DeSoto Firedome

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DeSoto Firedome
Overview
Manufacturer Chrysler
Production 1952–1959
Body and chassis
Class Full-size
Layout FR layout

The DeSoto Firedome was a full-size automobile produced by the Chrysler Corporation for its DeSoto brand vehicles from 1952 to 1959. Introduced as DeSoto's premium line of vehicles in 1953 and 1954, the Firedome also occupied the least expensive position in the model lineup during 1955 and 1956 model years before it was reclassified as a mid-range vehicle offered by DeSoto between 1957 and 1959.

Topline series, 1952-54[edit]

First generation
De Soto Firedome 1954.jpg
Overview
Production 1952–1954
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
2-door convertible
Powertrain
Engine 276 cu in (4.5 L) 160 hp (119 kW) V8[1]

The 1953 Firedome was introduced just prior to DeSoto's 25th Anniversary in 1953, and arrived as the new top series, displacing the Custom nameplate which was retired at the end of the 1952 model year. The entire De Soto model lineup was restyled and Firedome prices started at US$2,740. During the 1953 model year, approximately 64,211 examples were produced.

The Firedome could seat six passengers. It was available as a 4-door sedan, 5-door station wagon, 2-door coupe and 2-door convertible. The AM radio was $85.[2]

The Firedome was powered by a Hemi V8 engine producing 160 hp (120 kW) and had a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h). The car weighed 3,700 lb (1,700 kg) and had a 0–60 mph (100 km/h) time of 15.5 seconds. This was the first time that DeSoto offered an 8-cylinder engine in one of its models since 1931.

Entry Level series 1955-56[edit]

Second generation
De Soto Firedome 1955.jpg
Overview
Production 1955–1956
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
2-door convertible
Powertrain
Engine 291 cu in (4.8 L) V8
Transmission 2-speed automatic
3-speed manual
Dimensions
Wheelbase 116 in (2,946 mm) [3]

In 1955, Chrysler dropped its 6-cylinder DeSoto Powermaster series and added the topline Fireflite series, pushing the Firedome down to entry level status. Still, the Firedome was not a cheap offering, retaining its V8 engine, but increasing the 276 c.i. displacement to 291 c.i. with a larger bore, and coming with a host of features and interior upgrades that were lacking in the Powermaster series. While Powerflite 2-speed automatics were advertised as standard transmission equipment on the Firedome, officially the car was offered with a 3-speed manual, although few were produced.

Midline series 1957-59[edit]

Third generation
58Firedome.JPG
Overview
Production 1957–1959
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
2-door convertible
Powertrain
Engine 361 cu in (5.9 L) V8

The series was pushed upmarket in the model offering when the 1957 DeSotos were introduced, with the Dodge-based Firesweep.

By 1958 the horsepower had increased to over 300 (220 kW) with the optional of the 361 cubic-inch (5,920 cc) V8 engine. Zero to 60 mph (100 km/h) now took just under eight seconds with a top speed of 115 mph (185 km/h). However 1958 DeSoto's sales skidded by almost 60% from 1957's model year output, partially due to the economy and partially because of build issues with the 1957 models.

In an attempt to attract buyers, Chrysler offered the 1959 DeSoto Firedome in 26 solid colors and 190 two-tone finishes. By the end of the 1959 model year, Chrysler was struggling to find buyers for its DeSoto automobiles. Despite the wide variety of models available, consumers shunned DeSoto automobiles as rumor circulated that Chrysler would phase out the marque. A padded dash was standard.[4]

Firedome production ended at the end of the 1959 model year.

For the 1960 model year DeSoto offered two models, the Fireflite and the Adventurer. For model year 1961, a model named only "DeSoto" was sold as a two-door coupe and four-door hardtop sedan. The end of the DeSoto marque came on November 30, 1960, 48 days after the 1961 models were introduced, ending 32 years of production.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Directory Index: DeSoto/1953_DeSoto/1953_DeSoto_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  2. ^ Flory, J. "Kelly", Jr. American Cars 1946–1959 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Coy, 2008), p.1021.
  3. ^ "Directory Index: DeSoto/1955_DeSoto/1955_DeSoto_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  4. ^ "Directory Index: DeSoto/1959_DeSoto/1959_DeSoto_Brochure". Oldcarbrochures.com. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  • Gunnell, John, Editor (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946–1975. Kraus Publications. ISBN 978-0-87341-096-0.