Interior and exterior description
The Firesweep was a lower-priced entry which combined a Dodge shell and chassis with a DeSoto bumper and grill. 1957 models were sold only as imports in Canada. While the Firesweep featured DeSoto's signature tailfins, the front clip (the front section, forward of the firewall) was based on the Dodge Coronet. The most telling feature was the headlight design, housed under heavily chromed lids typical of Dodge. Firesweep grilles were similar to those on other contemporary DeSoto models.
The Firesweep could seat six passengers and was available as a four-door sedan, five-door station wagon, two-door coupé, and two-door convertible. Depending on the body style, Firesweeps weighed between 3,660 and 3,980 lb (1,660 and 1,674 kg). Power was provided by Chrysler's 350 cubic inch V8 in 1958 (361 in other Desoto models and all models in 1959) (first year of the "Big Block" V8 overhead valve engine available in 3 horsepower ratings topping at 305 hp with the 2x4 bbl option. A three-speed manual transmission was standard and an optional was the Powerflight 2 speed automatic and the Torqueflite 3 speed automatic transmission. The majority of 1959 Firesweeps were equipped with the automatic transmission.
The base price of the Firesweep (1957) was US$3,169 and it was offered in one and two-tone exterior finishes. Features included power steering, power brakes, dashboard clock, push-button radio and whitewall tires.
Production and sales
The first year of the car’s production, 1957, was the best year for Firesweep sales. A decline in DeSoto quality and increasing market pressures led to the end of the Firesweep’s production at the end of the 1959 model year. During 1959 Firesweep cars carried only DeSoto external nameplates.
The final Desoto model, lacking a series name, was offered for the 1961 model year. DeSoto production ended in November 1960.
Engine specifications, transmission, options
In 1957, the DeSoto Firesweep was powered by the Dodge "Poly" 325 V8 with a 2bbl Stromberg down draft carburetor. The 325 was basically a detuned polyspherical combustion chambered version of the Dodge "Red Ram" 325 Hemi. In 1958 and 1959 DeSoto used the Chrysler Corporate 361 wedge style V8.
The Firesweep was offered with three different transmissions as well, a two-speed PowerFlite, a three-speed TorqueFlite, or a three-speed column-shifted manual.
Body styles offered were: Convertible, two-door sportsman hardtop, two-door sedan, four-door sportsman hardtop, four-door sedan, and a nine-passenger Shopper station wagon (complete with rear-facing "death seat").
The Firesweep was available with up to a three-color paint job (the body was a different color than the "sweep" on the side of the body, and the roof was a different color still). DeSoto offered a laundry list of options for the vehicle to include, but not limited to: clock, AM radio, rear speaker, air conditioning, carpeting, deluxe cloth seat inserts, dual rear antennae, deluxe interior lighting, stainless steel stone shields, power steering, and power brakes.
The DeSoto Firesweep was also produced in Australia from 1958 to 1960. Production of the 1958 model began at Chrysler Australia’s Mile End facility in South Australia in early 1958, utilizing CKD components imported from Detroit. It was offered as a four-door sedan with a 350-cubic-inch V8 engine. The 1959 Firesweep, which was released in July 1959, was also assembled from CKD components, and was equipped with a 361-cubic-inch V8 engine and a push-button automatic transmission. The Firesweep was replaced on the Australian market in 1960 by the locally produced Dodge Phoenix.
- The Standard Catalog of American Cars (1946 - 1975), John Gunnell, Kraus Publications, 1987.
- Dodge 1959, Automobile Quarterly 32 #3, Automobile Heritage Publishing Co., pg. 107.
- 1957 DeSoto, Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946 - 1975, John Gunnell, Krause Publications, 1982, pp. 264 - 265.
- Gavin Farmer, Great Ideas in Motion, 2010, pages 73-77
- News Review, Three Chryslers, Australian Motor Sports, August 1959, page 314