Last summer, a 1959 De Soto Firedome showed up on the Cohort, but it was in pretty rough shape. But then I found this similar ’59 Firedome sedan on eBay, and I think this Heather Blue/Pearl White beauty deserves a post of its own. It also gives me the opportunity to showcase a unique design feature which was only used on certain Forward Look Mopars to great effect . . .
Four door sedans (and certain wagons) of Chrysler’s 1957-59 senior makes (i.e. De Soto, Chrysler, Imperial; but not Dodge or Plymouth) had these “smart burnished” aluminum door frames . . .
. . . which were “another example of the meticulous detailing” found only in these cars.
This is the first time in a long time that I’ve gotten a good look at these; I didn’t realize that they also included this wrapped bright metal base molding around the doorposts.
I like the graceful curve of the sedan roof combined with these nicely-fitting aluminum frames which won’t ever rust!
You can really see the effect here.
Since “the hobby” prioritizes convertibles and hardtops over sedans, this attractive sedan body style is so seldom seen, despite the models’ higher production numbers.
Like all Mopars for ’59, the De Soto has its own newly-designed front end, which, by virtue of its various elaborate space-age gothic forms, is very much in-tune with those exciting times!
All the Mopar makes were fundamentally similar; the decision of which to buy depended on how much money you were willing to spend and which stylistic flight-of-fancy appealed to you.
The wide-angle lens exaggerates the dramatic styling even further!
The comic strip Shoe parodied this car quite often!
This jewel-like dashboard is a true mid-century modern work of art–George Jetson would feel right at home!
We rarely get to see fine details like these in car books. How many people know what the door panel of a ’59 De Soto actually looks like? Will anyone recognize that jet motif on the lower right?
Seats look luxurious, with good quality materials. Pretty nice, considering this is the bottom-of-the-line “true” De Soto (the Firesweep being a Dodge with De Soto styling). Above Firedome were Fireflite and Adventurer–even higher levels of luxury and craftsmanship!
The “over your right shoulder” view.
Under the hood: This should be a 383 cubic inch, 305 horsepower V-8 with 2 bbl. carburetor.
Three torsion bars up front–two for suspension, and one sway bar. Is the oil filter rubbing against that hose?
Forward Look styling themes spread to other contemporary products. However, I suspect this “ad” is a modern forgery designed to look like it’s from the actual ’50s.
But there were real bikes that looked like this–I happen to have one. It’s called a Columbia Firebolt. Note the De Soto-like fin on the chain guard!
“Cars that can do what they look like they can do!” . . . Fly to Saturn? Bomb the Soviets? Scare little children? May-BE . . .
The next year (1960) all Chrysler Corporation cars were completely revised with newly-styled Unibodies. The aluminum door frames were no longer used. De Soto itself would disappear after 1960, which is something I find hard to explain. I thought De Soto often had the best styling compared to its stable-mates. That, plus the excellent Torsion Aire Ride, and fine quality materials and details throughout would seem to make De Soto a sharp choice in its field. De Soto sold about as many cars as Edsel for calendar 1959–not very good. Things got even worse in ’60, even as others did well. A handful of ’61 models were made, and then Chrysler pulled the plug on De Soto.
Sometimes, you offer the public something good, and they still won’t buy. And sometimes if you feed them gruel (like the Pinto), they lap it right up. So add De Soto to the list of makes that should have survived, but somehow didn’t.