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DeSoto cars, 1928-1961, with specifications

Early DeSoto Model KOn May 6, 1928, the Detroit Free Press reported: "Probably no development of the past five years has created so profound a stir in the automobile industry as the current announcement that the new De Soto Six, which will be presented to the public in the next three months, is to be built by Chrysler.”

With hardly any more information than this, over 500 dealers signed for franchises. Production for the 1929 model began in July, 1928, and official announcement was made at the January, 1929, New York Automobile Show. With the unveiling of De Soto at a price of $845, Walter P. Chrysler now felt that he had closed a marketing gap between Dodge and Chrysler. [That’s Chrysler’s 1966 statement. Many feel DeSoto was planned in case Chrysler could not buy Dodge Brothers, and was superfluous once Dodge Brothers was acquired.] (Also see our full History of DeSoto cars)

1929 desoto The new lightweight Model K De Soto Six had an engine displacement of 174.9 cubic inches rated at 55 horsepower. By the end of 1928, over 34,000 De Sotos had been shipped to a dealer force now expanded to 1,500.
1930 DE SOTO SIX, CK: The original De Soto Six had such a successful introduction that it was carried on into the 1930 model year with virtually no change. Despite marketing pressures brought on by the Depression, De Soto moved from 15th to 12th in sales position, passing such well known and established makes as Graham and Hudson. DeSoto Six CK
1930 CF 1930 DESOTO EIGHT, CF: A new L-head eight-cylinder engine that featured a downdraft carburetor and developed 70 horsepower was unveiled in a new De Soto model whose appearance was noticeably different from the Six. Soon the Eight had established itself for quick get away and tenacious hill climbing ability.
1931 DE SOTO SIX, SA: Piston displacement of the Six was increased to 205 cu in. and the rear axle gear changed from 4.6 to 1 to 4.33 to 1. A double-drop frame was adopted together with a re-styled body appearance which emphasized a longer hood. 1931 SA
1931 DE SOTO EIGHT, CF*: Like the new DeSoto Six, the 1931 Eight used a new head lamp crossbar. The DeSoto name plate or crest was removed from the grille and placed on the center of the crossbar .Engine displacement was increased to 220.7 cubic inches for 77 horsepower. To distinguish it from the Six, the Eight had two-tier bumpers, a stripe on the visor, and matching color fenders and body
1932 DESOTO SIX, SC: Production was curtailed to six-cylinder models after February, 1932, as the Depression hit low ebb. New features for De Soto included Floating Power, free wheeling, an optional, and vacuum-operated automatic clutch controlled by the accelerator pedal. Deluxe models were identified by a pair of trumpet horns mounted alongside the grille.
1933 DESOTO SIX, SD: Prices ranged from $695 to a high of $975 for a custom convertible sedan. Engineering advancements continued as De Soto entered 1933 with an automatic choke, automatic manifold heat control, all-helical gear transmission for silent operation, and a coincidental starter operated from the accelerator pedal.
1934 DESOTO AIRFLOW, SE: De Soto together with Chrysler introduced a startling new design called the Airflow. It had a streamlined body which allowed three people to sit up front, and the engine was moved up over the front axle, initiating an approach to balanced weight distribution that was years ahead of its time.
1935 DE SOTO AIRSTREAM, SF: A new car called the Airstream was introduced as a companion to the Airflow. Its lower price placed De Soto in a larger market segmentwith immediate success; 20,784 Airstreams were shipped. Selling price of the 4-door sedan Airstream was $795 F. O. B. Detroit, or $220 less than a comparable Airflow.
1935 DESOTO AIRFLOW, SG: For the second year in a row, a De Soto Airflow won the coveted Grand Prix Award for aerodynamic styling at the Concours d'Elegance at Monte Carlo. It had a new grille and hood that extended forward in a V-shape. The hypoid rear axle was adopted, and the antisway stabilizer bar moved from the rear of the car to the front.
1936 DESOTO CUSTOM AIRSTREAM, S-l: Burgeoning success of the Airstream led to its being offered in a Custom and Deluxe series. The Custom had a split V-type windshield with two cowl-mounted wipers, while the Deluxe retained the one-piece flat windshield that cranked open at the bottom and had a single overhead wiper.
1936 DESOTO AIRFLOW, S-2: A new flanged steel roof panel insert was bolted to the roof perimeter. Itwas acoustically treated and electrically insulated to serve as a radio antenna. Five thousand S-2 models were built in this, the last year of theDe Soto Airflows. By now, the best of their features had been incorporated in the more conventional Airstream cars.
1937 DESOTO S-3: The safety-styled interior became a key selling feature, just as it did in other 1937 Chrysler cars. Knobs on the instrument panel were recessed and gauges flush-mounted. Door handles were curved inward to avoid snagging, and the top of the front seat back was heavily padded. Even the overhead wiper knob was soft rubber!
1938 DE SOTO S-5: The crank-open windshield finally came to a demise with the introduction to De Soto of the large cowl ventilator. The wiper pivots also became permanently located at the base of the windshield, a move similar to the one that had had brief existence on the earlier 1936 De Soto Custom.
1939 DE SOTO S-6: De Soto joined with other 1939 cars in adopting the column-mounted manual gear shift lever. Electric, constant-speed windshield wipers made their De Soto debut along with Superfinish, an exclusive Chrysler Corporation method of giving engine parts a smooth, mirror-like surface.
1940 DE SOTO CUSTOM, S-7: Sealed-beam headlights became standard equipment on De Soto as well as all other Chrysler Corporation cars. Also new to De Soto was the optional All-Weather Air Control system with dual blower and heater units. At 122.5 inches, the new wheelbase was De Soto's longest to date.
1941 DE SOTO DELUXE, S-8: Exterior door panels were designed to be flush with the sills when the doors were closed and running boards actually became an optional item. Rear visibility was greatly improved as rear window glass area rose from 355 to 524 square inches.
1942 DESOTO CUSTOM, S-10: A total of 24,771 De Sotos was shipped before automobile production ceased for World War II. An interesting feature of the 1942 De Soto was its concealed headlights. They were recessed into the fenders and covered by shutters that opened automatically when the lights were turned on.
1946-48 DESOTO DELUXE, S-ll: Postwar De Sotos were ushered in with an improved Gyrol Fluid Drive and Tip-Toe Hydraulic Shift to take the work out of shifting. A much discussed new body style was a 9-passenger Suburban that looked like an elongated sedan. It had folding third seat, roof luggage rack, and two-tone paint.
1949 DESOTO CUSTOM, S-13: De Soto joined other Chrysler cars to introduce a new first — a key-operated ignition/ starter switch. A versatile new 4-door sedan called the Carry All made its bow. It had a fold-down rear seat which could provide open luggage space from the back of the front seat to the end of the trunk.
1950 DESOTO CUSTOM, S-14: DeSoto's new 12-inch brakes with cyclebond linings were among the largest used on any American passenger car. The introduction of bonded linings to De Soto and other Chrysler cars became another First. Shipments for the year rose to 136, 203 as De Soto passed the 100,000 sales mark for the second year in a row. A special hardtop sports coupe called the Sportsman was a new entry.
1951 DESOTO CUSTOM, S-15: Along with other Chrysler cars, De Soto brought out the new Oriflow shock absorber, with "sea-leg" mountings. A new all-steel station wagon that eliminated wood trim was endowed with another Corporation First--a tail gate window that actually rolled down into the tail gate. 1951 Custom S15
1952 DeSoto Firedome Eight S17 1952 DESOTO FIREDOME EIGHT, S-17: On November 23, 1951, DeSoto unveiled a V- 8 engine plant with new transfermatic engine -building machinery capable of turning out 60 V-8s an hour. Its first task was the 160 hp FireDome V-8 with hemispherical combustion chambers. The FireDome Eight series with six body styles was-introduced early in 1952.
1953 DESOTO FIREDOME, S-16: The PowerMaster Six and FireDome officially replaced the previous Custom and Deluxe series. Power brakes and overdrive were new to DeSoto. FireDome Eight sales outdistanced the Six by almost two-to-one in this, only the second year of V-8 production. DeSoto Firedome S16
1954 DeSoto Firedome S19 1954 DESOTO FIREDOME, S-19: Sales of the FireDome now grossed 70% of total De Soto production. PowerFlite, Chrysler Corporation's first fully automatic transmission, was made available to DeSoto. Other DeSoto virtues could be discovered by tuning in Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" on both radio and television.
1955 DESOTO FIREFLITE, S-21: Production of six-cylinder engine models ceased for DeSoto, but a new higher priced series called the FireFlite was introduced with a 200 hp V-8 and four-barrel carburetor. Automatic transmission-equipped cars now were operated by a "Flite" control lever on the instrument panel. 1955 DeSoto Fireflite S21
1956 DESOTO FIREFLITE, S-24: News for DeSoto was the change-over to the 12-volt electrical system, and the adoption of the push-button operated PowerFlite automatic transmission as standard equipment. A new 320 hp, limited production hardtop named the Adventurer was unveiled with great success.
1957 DESOTO FIREFLITE, S-26: The DeSoto line-up was further expanded by adding a lower-priced, shorter-wheel-base car. Known as the FireSweep, the new De Soto absorbed 35% of the total De Soto production by the time the model year ended. Deep, wrap-around windshields at 1444 square inches were 31% larger than 1956.
1958 DE SOTO FIREFLITE: Caught in a depressed market squeeze of cars in its price class, DeSoto sales declined to less than 40,000 units. Production was transferred to the Chrysler Jefferson plant after 22 years in the Warren-Wyoming location. Dual headlights became standard equipment on all models.
1959 DESOTO ADVENTURER: Swivel front seats were a new option of note, and three-tiered taillights were a styling feature for the fourth consecutive year. On March 12, 1959, De Soto produced its 2,000,000th car following 31 years of manufacturing.
1960 DE SOTO ADVENTURER: In order to tighten up its sales picture, the De Soto line-up was pared to two series--the FireFlite and the popular Adventurer. The new De Sotos had unit construction and, along with Plymouth, offered an optional 45 rpm record player. Total sales figures for the year were 23, 677 units.
1961 DESOTO ADVENTURER: Production of all De Soto cars ceased in the first week of December, 1960, notmuch more than a month after new car introduction, as De Soto fell victim to a shift in marketing patterns that had been taking place the past three years. Some 2,056,000 De Sotos had been built since 1928. The De Soto name did not die, however, but still is used as a name for a line of trucks produced in the Corporation's International operations.

1951 DeSoto

DeSoto cars: chronological view

MOD
YEAR
ENGR.
SYM.
PROD
START
PROD
STOP
NAME WB CYL. BORE x STROKE cu in. C/R HP TORQUE
1929 K 7-28 5-30 DeSoto 109 6 3 x 4-1/8 174.9 5.2 55 at 30 110 at 12
1930 CK 5-30 11-30 DeSoto Six 109 6 3-1/8 x 4-1/8 189.8 5.2 60 at 34 120 at 12
CF 12-29 DeSoto Eight 114 8 2-7/8 x 4 207.7 70 at 34 132 at 12
1931 SA 12-30 3-32 DeSoto Six 109-3/8 6 3-1/4 x 14.1/8 205.3 5.4 72 at 34 139 at 12
CF* 2-32 DeSoto Eight 114 8 2-7/8 x 4-1/4 220.7 77 at 34 140 at 12
1932 SC 12-31 10-32 DeSoto 112-3/8 6 3-1/4 x 4-1/4 211.4 5.4 75 at 34 140 at 14
1933 SD 11-32 10-33 Standard 114-3/8 6 3-1/4 x 4-3/8 217.8 6.0 86 at 34 160 at 12
Custom
1934 SE 1-34 10-34 Airflow 115-1/2 6 3-3/8 x 4-1/2 241.5 6.2 100 at 34 185 at 12
1935 SF 11 -34 8-35 Airstream 116 6 3-3/8 x 4-1/2 241.5 6.0 93 at 34 180 at 12
SG 9-35 Airflow 115-1/2 6.5 100 at 34 185 at 12
1936 S1 9-35 8-36 Deluxe Airstream 118 6 3-3/8 x 4-1/2 241.5 6.0 93 at 34 180 at 12
Custom Airstream
S2 Airflow 115-1/2 6.5 100 at 34 185 at 12
1937 S3 9-36 8-37 DeSoto 116 6 3-3/8 x 4-1/4 228.1 6.5 93 at 36 168 at 12
1938 S5 9-37 7-38 DeSoto 119 6 3-3/8 x 4-1/4 228.1 6.5 93 at 36 172 at 12
1939 s6 8-38 7-39 Deluxe 119 6 3-3/8 x 4-1/4 228.1 6.5 93 at 30 172 at 12
Custom
1940 S7 8-39 7-40 Deluxe 122-1/2 6 3-3/8 x 4-1/4 228.1 6.5 100 at 36 176 at 12
Custom
1941 s8 8-40 7-41 Deluxe 121-1/2 6 3-3/8 x 4-1/4
Later Cars
228.1 6.5 100 at 36 170 at 12
Custom 6.8 105 at 36 178 at 12
1942 S10 8-41 1-42 Deluxe 121-1/2 6 3-7/16 x 4-1/4 236.7 6.6 115 at 38 190 at 16
Custom

POST WORLD WAR II DeSOTO CARS

MODEL YEAR ENGR. SYM. PROD START PROD STOP NAME WB CYL. BORE x STROKE cu in. C/R HP TORQUE
1946
to
1948
S11 11-45 2-49 DeSoto Deluxe 121-1/2 6 3-7/16 x 4-1/4 236.7 6.6 109 at 36 192 at 12
12-45 DeSoto Custom
1949 S13 12-48 12-49 DeSoto Deluxe 125-1/2 6 3-7/16 x 4-1/4 236.7 7.0 112 at 36 195 at 12
DeSoto Custom
1950 S14 1-50 12-50 DeSoto Deluxe 125-1/2 6 3-7/16 x 4-1/4 236.7 7.0 112 at 36 195 at 16
DeSoto Custom
1951 S15-1 12-50 11-51 DeSoto Deluxe 125-1/2 6 3-7/16 x 4-1/2 250.6 7.0 116 at 36 208 at 16
S15-2 DeSoto Custom
1952 S15-1 11-51 9-52 DeSoto Deluxe 125-1/2 6 3-7/16 x 4-1/2 250.6 7.0 116 at 36 208 at 16
S15-2 DeSoto Custom
S17 DeSoto Firedome Eight V-8 3-5/8 x 3-H/32 276.1 7.1 160 at 40 250 at 20
1953 S18 10-52 9-53 DeSoto Powermaster 125-1/2 6 3-7/16 x 4-1/2 250.6 7.0 116 at 36 208 at 16
S16 DeSoto Firedome V-8 3-5/8 x 3-11/32 276.1 7.1 160 at 40 250 at 20
1954 S20 10-53 8-54 DeSoto Powermaster 125-1/2 6 3-7/16 x 4-1/2 250.6 7.0 110 at 36 208 at 16
S19 DeSoto Firedome V-8 3-5/8 x 3-11/32 276.1 7.5 170 at 44 255 at 24
1955 S22 10-54 7-55 DeSoto Firedome 126 V-8 3.720 x 3.344 291 7.5 185 at 44 245 at 28
S21 DeSoto Fireflite 200 at 44 274 at 28

1956 and onwards

1957 figures apparently do not match up to at least one other source, but they have been verified by cross checking with the authoritative book Chrysler Engines 1922-1998.

Model Year Eng'r Symbol Production Names Wheel-base No. Cyl. Bore & Stroke Displ.
(cu in.)
Compression Ratio Advertised
BHP Torque
Began Ended Std Opt
Std Opt Std Opt
1956 S-23 8-55 8-56 Firedome 126 V-8 3.72 x 3.80 330 8.5 230 @ 44 ... 305 @ 28 ...
S-24 Fireflite 3.72 X 3.80 330 8.5 ... 255 @ 44 ... 350 @ 32 ...
S-24 Adventurer 3.78 x 3.80 341.4 9.25 ... 320 @ 52 ... 356 @ 40 ...
1957 S-27 9-56 9-57 FireSweep 122 V-8 3.69 x 3.80 325 8.5 8.5 245 @ 44 260 @ 44 320 @ 24 335 @ 28
S-25 Firedome 126 3.78 x 3.80 341 9.25 ... 270 @ 46 ... 350 @ 24 ...
S-26 Fireflite 3.78 x 3.80 341 9.25 ... 295 @ 46 ... 375 @ 28 ...
S-26 Adventurer 3.80 x 3.80 345 9.25 ... 345 @ 52 ... 355 @ 36 ...
1958 LS1-L 9-57 7-58 FireSweep 122 V-8 4.06 x 3.38 350 10.0 10.0 280 @ 46 295 @ 46 380 @ 24 385 @ 28
LSI-M Firedome 126 4.12 x 3.38 361 10.0 ... 295 @ 46 ... 390 @ 24 ...
LS3-H Fireflite 4.12 x 3.38 361 10.0 ... 305 @ 46 ... 400 @ 28 ...
LS3-S Adventurer 4.12 x 3.38 361 10.25 10.25(a) 345 @ 50 355 @ 50(a) 400 @ 36 400 @ 36(a)
1959 MS1-L 9-58 7-59 FireSweep 122 V-8 Std 4.12 x 3.38 361 10.0 ... 295 @ 46 ... 390 @ 24 ...
Opt 4.25 x 3.38 383 ... 10.1 ... 350 @ 50 ... 425 @ 36
MS2-M Firedome 126 4.25 x 3.38 383 10.1 10.1 305 @ 46 350 @ 50 410 @ 24 425 @ 36
MS3-H Firefllte 4.25 x 3.38 383 10.1 10.1 325 @ 46 350 @ 50 425 @ 28 425 @ 36
MS3-H Adventurer 4.25 x 3.38 383 10.1 ... 350 @ 50 ... 425 @ 36 ...
1960 PS1-L 9-59 7-60 Fireflite 122 V-8 Std 4.12 x 3.38 361 10.0 ... 295 @ 46 ... 390 @ 24 ...
Opt 4.25 x 3.38 383 (b) ... 10.0 ...  325 @ 46 ... 425 @ 28
PS3-M Adventurer Std 4.25 x 3.38 383 10. 0 ... 305 @ 46 ... 410 @ 24 ...
Opt 4.25 x 3.38 383 ... 10.0 ... 325 @ 46 ... 425 @ 28
4.25 x 3.38 383 (c) 10.0 330 @ 48 460 @ 28
1961 RS1-L 8-60 12-60 DeSoto 122 V-8 4.12 X 3.38 361 9.0 ... 265 @ 44 ... 380 @ 24 ...
(c)   Ram Induction Manifolding (a)   Equipment with Fuel Injection (b)   TorqueFlite equipped cars only

See our DeSoto cars page!

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