Chrysler desired to enter the brand in competition with its rivals Hudson, Oldsmobile, Mercury, Studebaker, and Willys, in the mid-price class. DeSoto began as a lower price rendition of Chrysler vehicles, while Dodge and Plymouth were added to the Chrysler company in 1928.
Sales were 81,065 units in 1929, the inaugural DeSoto model year year, a first year record in the U.S. that was not surpassed until the introduction of the 1960 Ford Falcon. Shortly after DeSoto was announced, Chrysler acquired Dodge Brothers, giving the organization two mid-priced vehicles. At first, the two-model methodology was generally effective, with DeSoto prices below Dodge models. Notwithstanding the financial times, DeSoto sales were moderately solid, pacing Dodge at around 25,000 units in 1932.
By 1933, Chrysler switched market places of the two marques with expectations of increasing Dodge sales. By raising DeSoto, it got Chrysler's streamlined 1934
Airflow bodies. although, on the shorter DeSoto frame, the design was a calamity and was disliked by consumers. Not at all like Chrysler, which still had conventional models to fall back on, DeSoto was hampered by the Airflow plan until the 1935 Airstream was delivered.
Beside its Airflow models, DeSoto's 1942 model is presumably its second most significant model from the pre-war years, when the autos were fitted with powered popup headlights, a first for a North American mass manufactured vehicle. (The Cord 810 had dashboard hand cranked shrouded headlamps in the 1936 model year.) DeSoto advertised the component as "Air-Foil" lights, and ("Out of Sight Except at Night").
The DeSoto Division of the Chrysler Corporation manufactured cars from 1928 to the 1961 model year. DeSoto established by Walter Chrysler on August 4, 1928, and marketed for the 1929 model year. The name came from the
Spanish pilgrim Hernando de Soto. The DeSoto logo included an stylized image of the adventurer who led the first European endeavor deep into modern day Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, and was the first documented European to have gone west the Mississippi River.
On November 30, 1960, the Chrysler Corporation shut the DeSoto division down in a move to cut its misfortunes despite a descending pattern in the "mid-price" car market. That pattern was created by the 1958 recession and its consequences for Chrysler's rivals were equally serious.
DeSoto Six (1929-1939)
1929 DeSoto Six
1930 DeSoto K Roadster
1931 DeSoto SA Roadster
1932 DeSoto SC Roadster
The DeSoto Six was a vertical cast in block six cylinder, three inch bore, 4 1/8 inch stroke, the heads were removable, valves in side and in 1929 had a N.A.C.C. rating of 21.6 horsepower.
DeSoto Airflow (1934-1937)
1934 DeSoto Airflow SG Business Coupe
1935 DeSoto Airflow SG Business Coupe
1936 DeSoto Airflow
The DeSoto Airflow was built by DeSoto during model years 1934, 1935 and 1936. DeSoto received the then-revolutionary Airflow model due to its price structure relationship to larger and more expensive Chrysler brand cars. The 1934 Airflow models are noted for their unique styling. They generate interest for their engineering innovations. It has a 115.5 in (2,934 mm) wheelbase.
DeSoto Airstream (1935-1936)
1935 DeSoto Airstream
1936 DeSoto Airstream
The Airstream was created to capture market share lost during the 1934 season when DeSoto only offered the Airflow. In 1935, there were 20,784 Airstream cars sold, as compared to 6,797 Airflow models. Airstream sales nearly doubled the units of Airflows, 13,940, sold in 1934. While streamlined and aerodynamic, the Airflow was not embraced by the public, and the more mainstream Airstream was introduced as a stopgap measure until a fully redesigned DeSoto could be introduced in 1937.
DeSoto Series S (1937-1942)
1937 DeSoto S3 Convertible
1939 DeSoto S6 Sedan
The Series S-3 was the only model offered by DeSoto for 1937. Two wheelbase sizes were available including a 116-inch platform and a longer 133-inch version. Several body styles were offered with the most popular being a touring sedan which saw nearly 52,000 examples sold
DeSoto Custom and Deluxe (1939-1952)
1939 DeSoto De Luxe
1940 DeSoto Custom Convertible
1941 DeSoto De Luxe
1942 DeSoto Custom Convertible
1952 DeSoto Custom Convertible
The DeSoto Custom is an automobile produced by DeSoto from 1939 until the 1952 model year. While in production, the Custom was DeSoto’s top-trim level car, and was offered in a wide array of body styles, including a 7-passenger sedan and the extended-wheelbase Suburban sedans.
The Custom shared its engine design with the Deluxe, and were powered by Chrysler's L-head 236.7 six-cylinder engine, delivering 109 bhp at 3,600 rpm.
Custom models, along with Deluxe models, produced during the 1946, 1947, 1948 and first half of the 1949 model years used DeSoto's prewar bodies. A fully redesigned Custom was launched in the second half of 1949, along with a redesigned Deluxe, and these cars are referred to as “1949 Second Series” models
DeSoto Adventurer (1956-1960)
1956 Desoto Adventurer
1957 Desoto Adventurer
1960 Desoto Adventurer
The DeSoto Adventurer is an automobile that was produced by DeSoto from 1956 through the 1960 model year. The Adventurer name first started out a four seat high performance sports coupe concept car, but then was changed to be DeSoto's special, limited-production, high-performance model, similar to the more luxurious and exclusive Chrysler 300. While in production, the Adventurer was DeSoto’s top-trim level car, replacing the DeSoto Custom, and offered only as a hardtop coupe in 1956. The model range grew when the coupe was joined by a convertible in 1957, and a four-door hardtop and sedan in its final year of 1960.
DeSoto Firedome (1952-1959)
1952 DeSoto Firedome
1954 DeSoto Firedome
1955 DeSoto Firedome
1959 DeSoto Firedome Sportsman
The DeSoto Firedome was a full-size automobile produced between 1952 to 1959. Introduced as DeSoto's premium line of vehicles in 1953 and 1954, the Firedome also occupied the least expensive position in the model lineup during 1955 and 1956 model years before it was reclassified as a mid-range vehicle offered by DeSoto between 1957 and 1959.
DeSoto Fireflite (1955-1961)
1956 Desoto Fireflite
1956 Desoto Fireflite Convertible
1959 Desoto Fireflite
1961 Desoto Fireflite
The Fireflite was introduced in 1955 as De Soto's flagship model. It was wider and longer than previous DeSoto models and it came equipped with a V8 engine producing 200 hp when equipped with the 4 barrel carburetor (190 kW) and PowerFlite automatic transmission. The transmission was operated by a Flite-Control
lever located on the dashboard. The car weighed 4,070 pounds and cost US $3,544. AM radio was a $110 option.
DeSoto Firesweep (1957-1959)
1957 Desoto Firesweep
1958 Desoto Firesweep
1959 Desoto Firesweep
The Firesweep was a lower-priced entry which combined a Dodge shell and chassis with a DeSoto bumper and grill. 1957 models were sold only as imports in Canada. While the Firesweep featured DeSoto's signature tailfins, the front clip (the front section, forward of the firewall) was based on the Dodge Coronet. The most telling feature was the headlight design, housed under heavily chromed lids typical of Dodge. Firesweep grilles were similar to those on other contemporary DeSoto models.
1938 DeSoto Woodie
1949 DeSoto Woodie
1950 DeSoto Woodie
1951 DeSoto Woodie
1951 DeSoto Woodie
Though Chrysler was busy selling the Town & Country, relatively few bought a similar but lower trim DeSoto–these cars were never common even when new. Today they’ve become so scarce that if you’ve heard of them, it’s likely you either own one of the handful left, or you’ve never seen one in person and know it well.
Desoto Trucks (1937-1970)
1940 DeSoto Pickup
1958 DeSoto Pickup
Chrysler Corporation introduced the DeSoto brand of trucks in 1937 to provide a greater number of sales outlets overseas for the American-built Dodge and Fargo commercial vehicles. The DeSoto brand was badge engineered sporadically on Dodge trucks made in Argentina (for the D-100 and the D-400 since 1960 to 1965), Australia, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
Chrysler ended its truck operations in international markets in 1970.