1960: Demise of the DeSoto

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Chrysler motor corporation announced it would end production of its DeSoto automobile on November 30, 1960.  The marque made its first appearance in 1928, and was one of the few car models that included the figure of a Spanish conquistador as a hood ornament.

DeSoto emerged from World War II as one of Chrysler’s more agressive products, luring the newly-prosperous post-war generation with a 276-cid Hemi V8 engine and a chassis which could be described as pure 1950s extravagance.  The later models featured high-styling fins as part of their 2-door coupe and 4-door sedan design.  This car served as the Indianapolis 500 pace car in 1956, the high-water mark for DeSoto sales in the United States.

DeSotos also enjoyed some of the more creative names for cars in the 1950s and early 1960s.  Buyers could choose between the Firedome, Fireflite, and Firesweep. Only the 1980s Pontiac Fiero matches-up in this category (although the Fiero claims the ultimate edge, because it would actually erupt in flames on occasion). Drivers could also get behind the wheel of the DeSoto Adventurer and, in 1953, the Powermaster.

The American car-buying economy went south in 1958, and Chrysler saw the DeSoto’s dominance threatened by the newly-introduced Ford Edsel.  The DeSoto never recovered.  It lives on among classic car collectors in the United States and, appropriately enough, Cuba.

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