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1956 Desoto Fireflite Sportsman Hardtop


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I can't stop looking at this car. It's just stunning. Yes, there are many who think the '55 is the pinnacle of Desoto styling, but I'm not one of them. I have a painting of a '56 similar to this hanging in my kitchen at the office, and the fins and the sweeping arrow of contrasting Iridescent Gray against the Shell Pink bodywork is just gorgeous. Following an extremely comprehensive and high-quality restoration, this beautiful Sportsman is not quite a #1 quality car but it's a #2 without question. Laser-straight bodywork, paint that glows and shines beautifully, and about a zillion dollars' worth of fresh chrome. to make it sparkle. There's no angle from which this car isn't beautifully styled and I, for one, like the mesh grille a lot more than the toothy one from the '55s, simply because they've become so ubiquitous on Mercury lead sleds. This car is elegant, sporting, and upscale and while it's certainly massive, the design disguises it rather well. If there are flaws they are limited to the fact that the nose emblem and the "DeS" badges on the C-pillars are original and show a bit of age. Yeah, it's that good. It also includes a set of fender skirts (fiberglass) but those were the first thing I removed.

 

The interior uses correct pink patterned fabric with silver threads (that's how the brochure describes it) with white leather and it's pure 1950s funky. Dark carpets and a black and white dash prevent it from being pink overload, and again, almost everything is expertly restored. The seats are firm and comfortable and you have a commanding driving position with excellent sight-lines in every direction. The big steering wheel feels great in your hands and you can guide the car with your fingertips thanks to standard power steering. The dashboard itself is rather uninspiring, a white panel with gauges that look like they have mother-of-pearl faces, but I have to admit I like the dash in Melanie's '56 Chrysler wagon better, plus the gauges are easier to read. That said, these all work properly although they are in original condition so there's some light deterioration on the needles. Nothing major, though. I love the clock perched up high, although it has been disconnected to preserve the battery and we're going to leave it that way. The radio powers up, but I haven't been able to tune anything on it. All the interior lights work, the weather seals are new, and the trunk is beautifully outfitted with gray carpets that are probably a lot nicer than whatever was there originally.

 

Yes, it's got a Hemi--a 330 cubic inch version of Chrysler's famous V8 powerplant. It's rebuilt and it runs great, with plenty of power at any speed and dipping into the secondaries on the big Carter 4-barrel delivers plenty of punch, even for such a massive car. It never feels as though it could be left behind. It's neatly detailed with correct colors, markings, and hardware--only the radiator cap lets it down but that's an easy fix. Power steering and brakes work properly and it runs nice and cool. Underneath it is solid and clean, with rebuilt suspension and brakes, so it rides and handles rather well for such a big boat. The floors are undercoated, so it's not sparkling but that also means you can drive it without worries, which is exactly what I'm doing with it right now. The 2-speed PowerFlite transmission actually shifts much better than Melanie's '56 wagon, very smooth, and it has more reasonable 3.54 gears in back so it's an easy cruiser even at today's highway speeds. The exhaust has fresh Magnaflow stainless mufflers that sound a bit like vintage glasspacks and might be a little more aggressive than original, but I can't really complain about the sound or the handsome tips under the bumper. Gorgeous factory wire wheels probably cost a fortune to restore and carry recent 235/75/15 wide whitewall radials that ride and handle great.

 

I never thought of Desoto as a lust-worthy car, but I sure like this one. I know I fall in love a lot, but that's only because I put the cars I like best on this site where you can see them. The blah cars don't make the cut. This Desoto is just gorgeous to look at and drives like a big '50s luxury car should. And only the most insecure of you should fret about driving a pink car--the gray makes it look masculine and you'll always be the center of attention. Ready to impress at $69,900. Thanks for looking!

 

EDIT: There's apparently now a photo limit on this site, so I had to start over. Even with multiple posts, I couldn't make it work. There are 101 photos of this car on my website, www.HarwoodMotors.com. Thanks.

 

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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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