Cohort Classic: 1953 DeSoto – Did Its Owners Catch It In The Pacific, On A Long-Ago Trip To The Oregon Coast?

(first posted 10/27/2012)   Has there ever been a toothier grille? Well, yes; the Buicks of the era. The 1950 Buick takes the cake in the deep-sea toothy-fish face sweepstakes. But DeSoto was nipping at Buick’s tail, starting with the 1950 model too. The 1953 marks the high-water mark for DeSoto dentification, as this shot posted by Impalamino at the Cohort attests. It has Iowa plates, but there’s proof on this fish-out-of -water that its owners visited the Oregon Coast in the early fifties. Did they catch it there, and lug it all the way back to Iowa?

Here it is: A window sticker for Mack Sherman’s Texaco Station, in Yachats, Oregon. From the look of it, I’d date its design as very much late-’40s. Considering the relative remoteness of the Oregon coast back then, Mack probably was still giving these out in the mid-’50s.

I strongly suspect that this Union 76 station now sits where Mack’s station did, considering that it’s the only service station in town. Curiously enough, it’s for sale ($475,000); I wonder if there are still some “Ain’t Mad At Nobody” stickers hidden away in a back drawer?

Yachats is a charming little village that has become Eugenians’ favorite coastal getaway spot. Without a harbor, though, it’s hardly the place to go fishing (surf-fishing excepted) for DeSotos. Good luck trying to land one of these whales that way.

Maybe the DeSoto’s superb patina got a head start from the salty spray of that trip long ago?

Since Impalamino couldn’t get a decent side shot, let’s get a lifeline from Google. Here’s another one, shot somewhere on a more California-looking coast.

Apparently, DeSotos were good transportation for desert vacations as well. With their 160 hp, 276 cu in Fire Dome (hemi) V8, they certainly were among the faster choices for a long-distance trip to Oregon in 1953 or so.  The DeSoto hemi was a slightly scaled-down version of the Chrysler hemi, back in the days when such a thing was still being done.

Those were the glory days of the hemi, well before its higher build costs eventually did it in. Fire Dome: now that was a memorable name.

And there was a memorable hood scoop to embellish, if not actually feed, it.

Not that it propelled DeSoto to any great sales success: DeSoto was Chrysler’s Mercury, but didn’t last nearly as long. It was the same basic story of rigid pricing hierarchies established in the ’20s falling apart in the ’50s, when lesser brands offered ever-greater pizazz, and premium brands expanded downward. Those in the middle got squeezed–that is, unless they came from GM.

Hi ho, hi ho; it’s off to Oregon we go! That dash has a rather modern aspect to it, having just the three instruments. They’re so direct and uncomplicated; complexity would come soon enough. I wonder if there’s still some Oregon coast sand down in the recesses of this interior?

Hernando de Soto was an adventurous explorer and successful conquistador. His expedition pushed west, through the southern areas of the US, making its members the first Westerners to set eyes on the Mississippi. He died thereabouts, and it took a car named for him to finally reach North America’s West Coast–and now it, too, seems to have died somewhere near the Mississippi.