|1956 DeSoto Fireflyte
|Original List Price:
|Tune Up Cost:
|Chassis Number Location:
|Left fron door hinge pillar
|Engine Number Location:
|Block top by water outlet
|National DeSoto Club, 3567 Daniel Paul Court, Reno, NV 89506
|1956 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1956 Ford Fairlane, 1956 Plymouth Fury
The car pictured was sold at Brooks’ auction at Quail Valley Lodge, Carmel Valley, California on August 28, 1999 for $46,000 including buyer’s commission. This car wasn’t a high quality restoration, with its age showing. Restored DeSoto convertibles don’t typically bring prices like this, $15-25,000 being more usual, making this result, quite exceptional. Perhaps it was the big engine with dual quads, or the Hiway HiFi, if the new owner can find 45rpm records he’s willing to sacrifice to its notorious skipping and scratching.
More intriguing is how the dual quad 341ci Adventurer engine came to be in this chassis in the first place. The Standard Catalog specifically states the pace car replicas had the standard 330ci Fireflite engine. Is this car’s engine a clever bit of junkyard scrounging and substitution by the drag racing Mr. Becker? Or a rare factory-built special? Finding satisfactory support of factory-special origin will realize the true value of this car although it is unlikely ever to be more than the amount paid here.
Like Mercury and Oldsmobile, DeSoto finds itself largely ignored by the collector car market, which concentrates its attention and spends its money on Fords and Chevies. Restored ’56 Ford and Chevrolet convertibles routinely bring $25-30,000 while their up-market cousins like Mercury and Pontiac sell at a discount that runs from at least 10% to as much as 25%. Today’s collectors, when kids, didn’t lust after up-market cruisers, as successful as these nameplates might have been. They’re spending their money to realize their dreams, not those of their fathers.
This is a neat car, with a dramatic yellow and black paint scheme that perfectly suits the style of the times and Chrysler Corporation’s fascination with fins. It has 235 fewer pounds for its 20 hp to pull around and should be as fast as a Chrysler 300B, no mean accomplishment by itself. But a Chevy Bel Air or Ford Fairlane convertible is more reliable as an investment and more liquid.-Michael Duffey