One of the forgotten names of the American car business is DeSoto. First launched by Chrysler in 1928, DeSoto was an all-new brand that would compete with Buick and Studebaker in the mid-market segment.
Due to their affordable price, DeSotos were popular right from the start. The 1929 models set a first-year sales record that stood for 31 years! DeSoto hit the peak of their popularity in 1956, when they had grown to become the 11th largest US automaker.
One of the cars that propelled DeSoto up the sales charts was this 1955 DeSoto Fireflite. It caught my eye on a recent visit to the Martin Auto Museum in Phoenix.
When I first caught a glimpse of this thing from across the parking lot, my gut told me it was a newer Chevy truck. I’m not really sure why though since it doesn’t really look like one at all. Maybe my subconscious mind picked up on some proportion that was similar to a Chevy in there somewhere, but I can’t put my finger on it. It wasn’t until I got closer to it that I realized it was a chopped Dakota with some sort of homemade DeSoto grille. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, but after looking at it again, I’ve sort of warmed up to it. There are a couple things I don’t really care for, like the word “taboo” above the grille, and I’ve never been a fan of pinstriping. Plus the whole Dodge thing. On top of that, this truck is partly responsible for the discontinuation of the best mid-sized truck of all time, the far superior Jeep Comanche.
But I do like the stance of this truck and the satin paint actually kind of works for it. Plus, extra points are awarded for being a man and using actual paint and not some lame ass vinyl wrap bullshit. And you’ve got to appreciate the amount of time someone spent chopping that top. I know that’s not an easy thing to pull off. I wish I could have taken a look under the hood though. Dodge’s offerings for the first gen Dakota were all over the place. Under that hood could be anything from a 97 hp 2.2L to a pretty damn impressive (for the time) 230 horse 318, and everything you could possibly imagine in between. All in all, I’d say it’s earned its place in the “car shows” category instead of the tasteless section. I approve.