DeSoto, like many automobile manufacturers, were heavily involved in the war effort and indeed were responsible for the assembly of the fuselage sections for the Martin B26 Marauder amongst many other important war machines. The transference back to a civilian factory with appropriate tooling did not take place until 1946 but DeSoto’s first real post-war model appeared in 1949 as “The Car With You in Mind.”
DeSoto’s top line, the Fireflyte, was introduced in 1955. It offered avant-guard aeronautically inspired styling, which was coupled to a 200 hp four-barrel V8 engine with hemispherical segment combustion chambers.
The 1956 DeSoto Fireflyte Convertible pictured here was apparently purchased new by a doctor from Bremen from whom Mr. James Becker of Elkhart, Indiana, purchased it in 1960, using the car regularly until 1974. In the files accompanying this car it is noted that Mr. Becker “blew her up” in 1968 while drag racing. When the local Chrysler dealer was unable to repair the engine it was sent to Chrysler Corporation for a rebuild. Officials at Chrysler confirmed that this car was one of 42 constructed with the 320 bhp engine and installed in a convertible. A drag racer indeed! The car was subsequently purchased by noted Chrysler collector, Walt Erickson, who commenced a thorough restoration. The car was disassembled with the relevant parts being re-chromed, repainted, re-trimmed, and the front end rebuilt. It is now finished in yellow over black and sports five original Chrysler wire wheels, two four barrel carburetors with “batwing air cleaners” and is described as being in good to excellent condition.
This car is “loaded,” as not only does it sport the 341cu. in. “Pacecar” engine but it also features power steering, power brakes, power seats, dual antennae, dual exhausts, and all signal seeking radio with the optional Hiway HiFi record player, the height of the mid 1950’s rolling audio experience.
The ’50s personifies the era of cruising coupled with drag racing and this very good example of a rare DeSoto fulfills both requirements more than adequately.