For nearly thirty-three years, the DeSoto name was a fixture in the automotive world and offered advanced engineering, economy, and style.
The DeSoto and Plymouth lines were launched by Walter P. Chrysler in May of 1928 in an effort to compete with the GM mid-prices lines, Oldsmobile and Pontiac. The appointed president of the new DeSoto Motors Corporation was Joseph E. Fields.
Production of the original 1929 Model K DeSoto 6 began in July 1929 at the Dodge Highland Park plant and the launch was August 4th of that same year. The appeal was immediately stunning, and within one year a total of 80,000 units of the new model had been sold. Setting a sales record for new model introduction, the 100,000th DeSoto was sold in November of 1929 resulting in a record that wouldn't be topped until almost 1960. The sales reached a level that required a new plant to be opened for DeSoto, and her sister line, Plymouth. The Lynch Road facility was opened in 1929.
The Desoto Model CF with a straight-eight engine was introduced in January of 1930. Though too expensive to be marketed as a mid-priced vehicle, the following year Chrysler introduced its own version with a straight-eight, based on the DeSoto tooling. By 1933 both DeSoto and Plymouth had outgrown their Lynch Road home and production was moved to the Jefferson Avenue Plymouth plant.
Sold through the DeSoto brand of Chrysler Corporation, the Firesweep was a brand of automobile produced from 1957 through 1959. Though resembling current models at the time, the DeSoto might just as well have been a Dodge; as it consisted of a DeSoto body on Dodge chassis, with Dodge engines and Dodge doors. The front clip was based on the Dodge Coronet, while the signature tail fins were directly from the DeSoto's lineup. Typical of Dodge, the headlight design was located under heavily chromed lids. The grille on the Firesweep was also very similar to those on other DeSoto models. The Firesweep was also built at the Dodge Main facility in Hamtramck.
The Firesweep was sold in a 4-door sedan, 2-door coupe, 5-door station wagon or a 2-door convertible version. The Firesweep could seat up to six passengers. Weighing between 3,660 and 3,980 lb depending on body style, the Firesweep's power came from Chrysler's 361 V8 overhead valve engine capable of 295 hp at 4,600 rpm. Standard was a 3-speed manual transmission and an option was Torqueflite automatic transmission. The automatic transmission was found on the majority of 1959 Firesweeps.
Offered in one and two-tone exterior finishes, the base price on the 1957 DeSota Firesweep was $3,169. Available features included power brakes and steering, push-button radio, dashboard clock, and whitewall tires.
The most lucrative year for Firesweep sales, 1957, the first year was a blazing success. Unfortunately by 1959, the decline in DeSota quality along with increasing market pressures led to the demise of Firesweep's production. At this time all vehicles carried only DeSota external nameplates. The individual companies were downgraded to divisions of the parent Chrysler Corporation in June 1958 and the presidents 'demoted' to general managers. DeSoto was downgraded from an independent division in October, and Harry E. Cheseborough was named the general manager of the new Plymouth-DeSoto-Valiant Division.
The once-proud DeSoto line was reduced to the final two series introduced in 1960, the Adventurer and Fireflite. The marque was merged with the Plymouth line. In this same year, the 2 millionth DeSoto was sold. Lacking a series name, for the 1961 model year, the final DeSoto model was introduced. In November of 1960 DeSoto production ended. The marque was relegated to history as the remaining stock of 1960 parts were used to build the last few vehicles.By Jessica Donaldson