This 1958 DeSoto Adventurer is one of 35 examples built by Chrysler with Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI). A total of 82 Adventurer convertibles were built in 1958, of which only five survive today. All of the EFI cars were recalled by Chrysler within one year, and the EFI units were replaced with conventional carburetion. Forty-four years later, the original EFI system was found in Pennsylvania, in the possession of the widow of J. Gerald Cassel, a Chrysler executive who had squirreled it away. The EFI system was refurbished and reinstalled, and the car is shown as it was delivered to William Dickson of Pittsburgh, PA in January of 1958. The car is fully equipped with almost every optional equipment and accessory available through the dealer at the time it was built.
This DeSoto is powered by a 361 cubic-inch over-head valve V8 engine developing 345 horsepower and coupled to a 3-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission and was capable of a top speed of 125 mph. Only 82 vehicles were produced in the convertible body style. There are only five surviving and three of those are in the United States. The Adventurer was a high-powered performance car with such amenities as swivel seats, dual headlamps, padded dashboards and gold name plating. This unit is equipped with a radio and a record player. The Adventurer sold for between $3,997 and $4,749.
The DeSoto was introduced in 1956 and produced through 1960. The two-door hardtop Adventurer had received its name from a DeSoto concept car. During its production life span, the car would endure both good times and bad times. There were many reasons for the final demise of the vehicle. At the close of the 1950's the country was experiencing economic turmoil which was causing the sales of most automobiles to decline. DeSoto was unable to advertise its vehicles to the same degree that other manufacturers could due to a limited budget. In 1958 quality control and recall problems plagued the company. By 1960 the DeSoto Company, owned by the Chrysler Corporation, ceased production.
Gold plating adorned the Adventurers mesh grille and its wheels were turbine-style. When introduced it did not have elaborate styling or flashy components, it was simply a clean and powerful automobile. Under the hood lurked a Hemi 5.6-liter V8 that produced between 230 and 320 horsepower. Power brakes were offered as standard equipment and the suspension was modified to help control the horsepower produced by the engine. A push-button PowerFlite automatic, electric clock, dual rear view mirrors, padded dash, power windows, power steering, and power seats added to the amenities provided by the Adventurer. A record player was offered as optional equipment but it was never very popular and was quickly discontinued.
The base price for a 1956 Adventurer was around $3680. This was less than most of its competition.
At Daytona Beach a golden Adventurer was able to achieve 137 miles per hour. At the Chrysler's Chelsea Proving Grounds oval it topped 144 miles-per-hour. There were no other vehicles offered that could out pace the Adventurer.
During the Adventurers introductory year nearly 1000 examples were produced. For 1957 the styling was enhanced and fins were placed on the rear of the vehicle, a style that was growing in popularity at the time. A convertible option became available. The engine was enlarged from 341 to 345 cubic-inch increasing horsepower output to 345, one horsepower per cubic inch. The suspension was modified to keep up with the engine enhancements. These improvements helped the sale of 1950 Adventurers for 1957, an increase of almost half from the prior year.
For 1958 only 423 examples were produced. This was due to several factors including an economic recession and changing trends in the market place that had other manufacturers producing more vehicles. A big reason however was quality. The Hemi engine was replaced with a cheaper-to-build engine that produced equivalent horsepower. Fuel injection was standard but often failed, causing the company to issue recalls. The Bendix EFI system was later replaced with carburetors. Many of the DeSotos leaked, had faulty transmissions, or a slew of other problems. This kept people from visiting the DeSoto show rooms.
For 1959 the exterior of the car received aesthetic modifications. Swivel bucket seats were part of the interior modifications. This helped entry and exit from the low-sitting car. Sales climbed to a respectable 687 units.
For 1960 the Adventurer name was available on nearly all DeSoto automobiles. Sales for the entire vehicle line-up continued to decline causing the Chrysler Corporation to discontinue the DeSoto marque in mid-November of 1960. By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2007
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