The Desoto Airstream was built by the Chrysler Corporation and sold through its DeSoto division from 1935 through 1936. They were sold alongside the DeSoto Airflow, but were more conventionally styled and cost considerably less. The design of the Airstream was created under the direction of Raymond Dietrich, a legendary former custom body designer and former coachbuilder who lead Chrysler designers out of the Airflow era.
The public agreed with the design of the Airstream, with sales of DeSoto's exceeding 116 percent for 1935. The Airflow was phased out, while the production of the DeSoto continued.
For 1936, there were only minor changes. The chassis was lowered by an inch and the wheelbase lengthened by an inch to 117-inches. The soft inserts of earlier cars were replaced with metal roof inserts. The front suspension was independent, a feature introduced in 1935, and hydraulic brakes could be found at all four corners.
This 1936 Airstream Buisiness Coupe was one of the first coupe styles to have a deck lid extending down to bumper level, providing access to the trunk compartment. Mounted vertically behind the single 2-passenger seats is the spare tire. This car was ordered with factory installed rear wheel shields.
It is believed that this elegant coupe has had only two owners since new. The odometer shows just 32,400 miles which are believed to be accurate. The car remains in factory original, well preserved condition. It has been in storage for many years, so the current owner commissioned a professional restoration facility to make the car fully operational again after its slumber.
There were only 2,592 examples of the 2-Passenger Coupe created. In 2008, this example was offered for sale at the 'Quail Lodge, A Sale of Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia' presented by Bonhams Auction. The car was estimated to sell for $30,000 - 50,000 but left the auction unsold.By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2008
The fast-rising new Chrysler Corporation issued its first DeSoto in 1928. Though good times soon turned 'hard,' DeSoto would be one of the few pre-Depression 'expansion' makes to survive the thirties. Following Chrysler in a hasty retreat from the radically designed Airflows, DeSoto introduced the more conventionally designed and more saleable Airstream, saving the company from a disaster that briefly threatened DeSoto's existence. Only 215 of this very rare convertible sedan model were produced, with only three known to survive today. This three-owner 'Art Deco' styled DeSoto was found intact in the late eighties in New Hampshire and treated to a frame-off restoration in 1991. It most recently completed the 2007 Glidden Tour.
The Airstream was met with great enthusiasm by the public and sales nearly doubled for 1935 for DeSoto. Introduced in 1935, the Desoto Airstream was built by the Chrysler Corporation and marketed through the DeSoto division until 1936. The Airstream was sold alongside the streamlined DeSoto Airflow, and there was also a Chrysler Airstream model sold at the same time. The Airflow wasn't the most popular vehicle at the time, and the more mainstream Airstream was introduced as a ‘stop-gap' until the introduction of the 1937 fully redesigned DeSoto.
The Airstream was built solidly and featured a more conservative body style and no longer carried the Airflow's broad grille work, integrated headlights and moncoque construction. The Airstream came with an all-steel super structure and while the car rested on is frame, the Airflow featured a unibody style that placed the passenger compartment within the frame structure.
For the 1935 model year, the Airstream lineup included a 2-door business coupe, roadster coupe, convertible coupe, trunkback sedan and a 5-passenger coupe. A base sedan and a trunkback sedan fell into the four-door category and all models came with Chrysler's vaunted 'Floating Power' rubber engine mounts which isolated engine vibration from the cassis. The Airstream came with an optional radio, heater, and carpeting for the front seat area. The Airstream was a popular option for buyers as it featured more traditional styling and it was priced around $200 less than the DeSoto Airflow.
A total of 20,003 DeSoto Airstreams were sold in 1935. The following year the Airstream was divided into two trim levels, the Custom and the Deluxe. Deluxe models featured on piece windshields, while the Custom models were two piece units while rapidly became the industry standard. A Custom Traveller model was introduced as well to the senior series and was built on a stretched 130' wheelbase. Popular with limousine conversion companies, Custom Traveller marked the start of DeSoto's long standing and continuous relationship with the Taxicab industry.
A total of 33,938 units were sold during the 1936 model year. For 1936 DeSota received its own production facilities and sales continued to rise by more than ten thousand vehicles. Production more than doubled in 137 thanks to the attractive new styling and DeSoto moved from 13th to 12th in the industry. DeSoto outsold Nash for the first time since 1933.By Jessica Donaldson