By Jim Benjaminson
Given the opportunity to pick your favorite Plymouth or DeSoto, what would your choices be? This was the question asked by Lanny Knutson, editor of the Plymouth Bulletin published by the Plymouth Owners Club, on the occasion of the club’s 40th anniversary in 1987. Knutson asked Bulletin readers to vote—and comment—on the Plymouths they felt were the best looking Plymouth ever built. Expanding on the subject, Knutson also asked readers to vote for the “Worst Five” cars as well.
D. David Duricy Jr., co-editor of the National DeSoto Club’s DeSoto Adventures, asked that club’s membership the same question in 1996. Duricy’s survey, in addition to asking for the best and worst cars, asked readers to vote for the DeSoto that contributed most to the advancement of the automobile—and for the most underrated DeSoto. Ironically the car voted number one in contributing to the advancement of the automobile—the 1934 Airflow DeSoto—was also the number one underrated DeSoto!
Further questioning of DeSoto Club members asked if they thought Chrysler Corporation should revive the DeSoto nameplate, a subject that was voted down by the narrowest of margins, 51% to 49%. Perhaps most interesting of the entire survey was the reader loyalty poll, asking what type of car—1985 or later—they currently drive. Even though the last DeSoto came off the assembly lines 36 years ago, fully 50% indicated they still drove a Chrysler product.
Here are the Top Ten Plymouths and DeSotos as voted by members of both organizations:
(*) All three years were combined in the Plymouth Club survey
(**) 1946, 1947 and 1948 were counted separately in the DeSoto Club survey
(***) PB series only
It is interesting to note the top six spots in the DeSoto survey covered the final six years of DeSoto’s life, where only three Plymouths of this era made the top-ten list, none with a ranking higher than fifth.
And what were the “Worst Five,” as voted by members of these organizations?
In both surveys, the 1961 models ran away with top honors for the ugliest cars built by both marques. In the case of Plymouth, the cars of the early ’60s slid solidly into second and third spots—perhaps it’s just as well there was no ’62 DeSoto.
Readers wishing information about these respective organizations can check out:
Plymouth Owners Club and National DeSoto Club
Clubs for Mopar fans which cover Plymouth, DeSoto, Imperial, and Chrysler include:
National Chrysler Products Club • Walter P Chrysler Restorers Club
This book is reprinted with the permission and cooperation of Jim Benjaminson, who holds the copyright to the text and to his photos. Also see his book Plymouth 1946-1959.
Plymouth Commercial Vehicles
Top Ten List and Club Directory
Plymouth 1946-1959: Introduction • Turbines • Diesels • Christine • Dream Cars • Print version1924-1945 • 1946-48 • 1949 • 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 DeSoto and Plymouth Buyers’ Guide: DeSoto 1929-39 • DeSoto 1940s • DeSoto 1950s • Exports
Plymouth 1928-29 • 1930-34 • 1935-39 • 1940s • 1950s • 1960s • 1970s • Valiant/Barracuda
Acknowledgements • Introduction • Top Ten Lists and Clubs
Ramchargers: the trip from Hell
All Mopar Car and Truck News
Chrysler 300 Letter Cars
The Engine Cleanup Committee