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From Jim Benjaminson unless otherwise noted
The first car is a 1957 DeSoto Diplomat (Firesweep - Dodge-based front end). These photos appear to be from Chrysler.
Photos courtesy Philippe COURANT (1957 Crown convertible)
Diplomats kept the Plymouth front clip with DeSoto grillwork until 1957, when the introduction of the Dodge-based DeSoto Firesweep finally created a DeSoto front clip which would fit the Plymouth body. This continued through 1959, when the Firesweep got front fenders which looked more like those of the senior DeSotos (1957-58 Diplomats, like Firesweeps, used Dodge front fenders). 1959 is therefore the only year where Diplomats and senior DeSotos shared the same frontal appearance...
J. Rallison noted that, according to the Ultimate American Car Spotter’s Guide, early 1957s and 1958s had no teeth in the bumper, (on the sides), while the later 1957s and 1958s did. He owns Canadian 1957 and 1958 Regents, and both happen to be early models.
Metal-bodied station wagons seem to have used Plymouth nomenclature, with the exception of the bottom-line Diplomat 2-door wagon (and probably the Kingsway as well, though I was unable to find documentation) going by the name "Commercial Utility".
The Plymouth-based (pre-'60) Diplomats apparently differed enough from their siblings by virtue of their DeSoto frontal treatment that derivation from standard Plymouth trim was only necessary when the DeSoto wheelwell differed markedly from the Plymouth, as was the case in '57-'59.
The Dart-based '60-'61 Diplomat appeared identical to the Dodge on which it was based when viewed from the front and the rear, with the obvious exception of nameplates. (The '61 Diplomat Custom may have had an exclusive emblem in the center of a grille, in the manner of the '61 Polara and '62 Custom 880; the pictures I have are B&W copies of original brochure illustrations, and I can't make that part out for sure.) Side treatment was what differentiated the last Diplomats from their Dart cousins. The senior '60 Diplomats had a lower quarter panel moulding not unlike that seen on the '57 DeSoto line. The senior '61s had what appeared to be the '61 Pioneer moulding with an additional "thunderbolt" piece down below, continuing to the back of the car; a strange add-on to what was already in many eyes a strange looking car.
I have never seen a picture of a Rebel, and so I have no idea how much it differed from the '61 Lancer, but I've been assured by a South African MoPar buff that all three compact makes were sold there.
Chrysler 1904-2018 •
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