DeSoto U.S. and Canada Model Year Production, 1946-1961

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

United States production

1946-1952

1947 DeSoto DiplomatDeSoto 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.

1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 total
SP15 Diplomat Deluxe,
Special Deluxe
*
S11 Deluxe, Custom 58,042 73,798 93,003 224,843
S11 Deluxe, Custom 7 passenger 5,490 8,396 8,864 22,750
SP19 Diplomat Deluxe
SP19 Diplomat Deluxe n/a
SP22 Diplomat
SP18 Diplomat Deluxe, Custom
SP20 Diplomat Deluxe, Custom *
SP23 Diplomat Deluxe, Custom
S13 Deluxe, Custom 91,300
S14 Deluxe, Custom 129,666
S15 Deluxe, Custom 98,618
S17 Deluxe Custom; S17 Firedome 85,419 405,300
S13 Deluxe, Custom 7 passenger 1,151
S14 Deluxe, Custom 7 passenger 3,939
S15 Deluxe, Custom 7 passenger 3,485
S15 Deluxe, Custom 7 passenger;
S17 Firedome 7 passenger
1,827 10,402
63,532 82,194 101,867 92,451 133,605 102,103 87,246

*not available - included with Plymouth

1953-1959: the last of the body-on-frame cars

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.

desoto police car

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.

1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 total
SP24 Diplomat *
SP25 Diplomat, Diplomat Deluxe, Diplomat Custom *
S18 Powermaster, S16 Firedome127,121
S20 Powermaster, S19 Firedome 73,177 200,298
S18 Powermaster, S16 Firedome 7 passenger2,136
S20 Powermaster, S19 Firedome 7 passenger 2,433 4,569
SP26/27 Diplomat, Diplomat Deluxe, Diplomat Custom *
SP28/29 Diplomat, Diplomat Deluxe, Diplomat Custom *
Firedome, Fireflite 112,910 106,231
Adventurer 996 220,137
Diplomat, Diplomat Deluxe, Diplomat Custom 3,874 2,346 1,877
Diplomat Adventurer 228,119
Diplomat Suburban 632 861 715
Firesweep 41,269 19,414 20,844 83,735
Firedome, Fireflite 74,295 28,529 23,763
Adventurer 1,950 432 699 129,668
129,257 75,610 112,910 107,227 122,020 51,582 47,920

*not available - included with Plymouth

1960-62

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).

1 9 6 0 1 9 6 1 total
Fireflite, Adventurer 28,832 3,034 26,866

* Not available - included with Dodge

Canadian production

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.

1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 totals
SP15 Diplomat Special Deluxe 168 672 342 1,182
S11C Custom club coupe, sedan 414 2,963 1,920 5,297
SP18 Diplomat Special Deluxe 192
SP20 Diplomat Special Deluxe 294
SP23 Diplomat Deluxe,
Special Deluxe
261 1,107 1,854
S13C Custom club coupe, sedan 2,600
S14C Custom club coupe, sedan 2,595
S15C Custom club coupe, sedan 2,325
S15C Custom,
S17 Firedome club coupe, sedan
2,325 9,845
SP22 Diplomat 35 70 105
SP24 Diplomat 276
SP25 Diplomat 588 864
S18 Powermaster,
S16 Firedome sedan, hardtop
2,858
S20 Powermaster,
S19 Firedome sedan, hardtop
2,974 5,832
total 582 3,635 2,262 2,792 2,889 2,621 3,502 3,141 3,563

1955195619571958195919601961total
Firedome, Fireflite2,5752,1954,770
SP29/30 Diplomat181181
Diplomat1983624258
Firedome1,0701,1272,197
Adventurer2,2492,249
Diplomat23108131
total2,5752,3761981,1061,1512,272108

Editorial note. Wheelbases are in meters because the author is Canadian. A meter is around 39.4 inches.

Sources

  1. Chrysler Canada Ltd. Model chart and serial number guide, internal document, 1957 (?)
  2. Chrysler Corp. Model chart and serial number guide, internal document, 1958 (?)
  3. Auto Editors of Consumer Guide. Encyclopedia of American Cars. Publications International, 2006.
  4. Grace Brigham. The Serial Number Book for U.S. Cars, 1900-1975. Motorbooks International, 1979.
  5. Don Butler. Plymouth-DeSoto Story. Crestline/Motorbooks International, 1978.
  6. Jerry Heasley. Production Figure Book for U.S. Cars. Motorbook International, 1977.
  7. John T. Lenzke. Standard Catalog of Chrysler, 1914-2000. Kraus Publications, 2000.
  8. Alan Ralston. “1959 DeSoto production discrepancies found,” DeSoto Adventures, July - August, 1998.
  9. Mark Theobaud. “DeSoto taxicab history,” DeSoto Adventures, May - June, July - August, 2012.
  10. Walter P Chrysler Club News, periodical, various issues
  11. Ward’s Automotive Yearbook and Ward’s Canadian Automotive Yearbook
  12. DeSoto articles on this site have been used as sources for the table, as has David Duricy's website, DeSotoland.
  13. Acknowledgement also to Barret Taft of the National DeSoto Club for providing articles from the Club publication, DeSoto Adventures.
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