DeSoto Custom Convertible

The DeSoto model line, named after the famed French explorer of North America, appeared along with Plymouth in 1929. Designed as a step up from Plymouth in price, power and size, over 80,000 DeSotos were delivered during that first year. Although Dodge was ranked higher than DeSoto, by the mid-1930s, DeSoto models were considered second only to the prestigious Chrysler and Imperial marques.

The first postwar DeSoto models that appeared in 1946 were based on the limited-production 1942 models. Although mechanically identical, Chrysler was able to provide the 1946 DeSoto line-up with a fresh face – new hoods, grilles, wraparound bumpers, smoother front fenders and a restyled rear end treatment completed the look. The styling continued basically untouched through 1948, and it was not until mid-1949 that DeSoto introduced its first entirely new postwar designs.

The factory optional Fluid Drive transmission, priced at $121, was an innovative semi-automatic system with two gear positions. “Low” was for first and second gears, while “high” operated third and fourth gears. Low was mainly used for fast starts, while normal driving conditions dictated that the driver push in the clutch, and slip the shifter into high. When accelerating, a slight thump at around 15 miles per hour indicated that one was now in fourth, where the car remained, until one had to use reverse, or go back into low. Stopping and starting did not require shifting.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2009 at the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.

109bhp, 236.6 cu. in. L-head inline six-cylinder engine, Fluid Drive transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 121.5".

Source: RM Auctions

Gallery: DeSoto Custom Convertible