by Gerard Wilson
This is the third article in a series. For details on production records and how these numbers were calculated, see the first article in this series, “Plymouth U.S. Production Figures 1946-2001.”
To build these tables, I examined all of the sources of information on each make and model, and tried to determine the most accurate figure for that make and model.
These tables are not definitive or fully accurate. They are the best I could do with the information which I was able to uncover. I would welcome correspondence with anyone who is interested in this material and can correct any errors or misinformation on my part.
— Gerard Wilson, April 2013
DeSoto Diplomats were Plymouths with DeSoto badges and front end clips (grilles and surrounds) which resembled the same-year DeSoto. They were exported for sale outside of the U.S. and Canada. Between 1946 and 1959, serial numbers and model year production figures are included with Plymouth. For the last three years of production, 1960 - 1962, they used the common Dodge/Plymouth unibody, and are included in Dodge production.
Between 1946 and 1954, DeSoto went through three model cycles, 1946 - 1948, 1949 - 1952, and 1953 - 1954. Most cars were built on a standard wheelbase (3.1 meter for 1946 - 1948, 3.2 for 1949 - 1952), but DeSoto also offered an 8 passenger sedan on a 3.5 meter wheelbase which was popular with many taxi fleets for its durability.
Model year production totals are based upon U.S. and Canadian model year serial numbers, and U.S. and Canadian combined model year production as published. Serial number and model year totals are usually equal, and where there is a small divergence (1950) an adjustment is made in favor of the reported model year production.
*not available - included with Plymouth
For 1955 - 1956, both DeSoto car lines were built on the same chassis, dropping the long wheelbase models. A high performance Adventurer was added for 1956. Entries are serial numbers, adjusted to equal reported model year totals.
The Firesweep (1957 - 1959), was built on a 3.1 chassis also used for Plymouth/DeSoto Diplomat Suburbans and all Dodges. The intent was to stimulate DeSoto sales by offering a lower - priced line, but it was not successful. The number of DeSoto Diplomat Suburbans built is not known. Firesweep totals are published model year totals, U.S. only.
Firedome, Fireflite, and Adventurer (1957 - 1959) were all built on a 3.2 meter wheelbase platform. Entries for 1957 and 1959 are official data, U.S. only; the entry for 1958 is the serial number total, U.S. only. Entries for models other than Diplomat, 1946-1956, are drawn from official data: serial numbers in each country, and published model year production numbers which combine production from Canada and the U.S. These sources are usually in agreement, or diverge only slightly. DeSoto built only a few Diplomats for 1957, restored the mid-range Firedome for 1958 - 1959. Entries for these and the 1960 Adventurer are model year production (U.S. + Canada) less U.S.. For 1961, Chrysler replaced DeSoto at the former DeSoto - Dodge dealers, and Chrysler production more than doubled.
1960 Fireflite and Adventurer, and any DeSoto for 1961, shared all the engineering/quality features of the 1960 Chrysler line. Chrysler decided to phase out DeSoto, replacing it with upper level Dodges and lower level Chryslers. The same management then phased out the premium Dodge Polara for 1962 without any replacement, until Dodge dealers demanded one, the Custom 880 (starting in early 1962).
* Not available - included with Dodge
DeSotos were built in Canada to give Dodge - DeSoto dealers an upscale offering on which import duties did not have to be paid. The DeSoto Diplomat was a Plymouth with a scaled down DeSoto front end. Most of these were built in the U.S., a few in Canada, all for sale outside of North America.
Entries for Diplomats are from Chrysler Canada production records, 1946 - 1960. None were built in Canada for 1955. Entry for 1961 may or may not be correctly attributable to Diplomat, which used the 1960 - 1961 Plymouth/Dodge unibody.
Editorial note. Wheelbases are in meters because the author is Canadian. A meter is around 39.4 inches.
Also by Gerard Wilson: Chrysler 1945-48 • Chrysler 1949-52 • Chrysler 1953-54 • Chrysler 1955-56
and Production numbers and histories, 1946-onwards
All Mopar Car and Truck News