Monday, November 19, 2012

1949 DeSoto Custom Convertible

"The engineers and artists who designed this new De Soto knew exactly what you wanted. Here is a car with a new wide, low look. But there's more room inside  . . .  not less. There are big wide doors that you walk into  . . .  not creep into. And the steering wheel doesn't hit your knees or obstruct your view. Here's an instrument panel that curves forward to give front-seat passengers real stretch-out comfort. Here are luxurious chair-high seats that mean more real visibility through the bigger windshield and larger windows. Here's the famous De Soto 'ride' made smoother than ever. And De Soto lets you drive without shifting. Its Tip-Toe Hydraulic Shift with gyrol Fluid Drive has a record of billions of miles of effortless driving. See this new De Soto at your dealer's as soon as possible. Compare it feature by feature with any other car on the market at any price. Then decide."

One of just 3,385 produced in 1949, this DeSoto Custom Convertible from Cienfuegos is a pretty rough looking proyecto. It may need loads of perseverance, but once finished, it sure will be a looker on the road.

Certainly much more impressive than its stodgy and ornate design are the vast dimensions of this car. When you enter the driver's seat, you actually seem to step up! In 1949, customers could buy two generations of DeSotos, because the new lineup was presented pretty late in March 1949. The ones who had signed their contracts early, had bad luck and took delivery of a 1948 model, titled as a 1949 car. The all-new "second series" DeSotos for 1949 wore a modernized skin and were a bit longer, but large parts of car and engine were still based on the previous model. And with a 125.5-inch (3,19m) wheelbase and an overall length of 207 inches (5,26m), the two-door DeSoto was anything but small. Chrysler chairman K.T. Keller wanted all Chrysler cars to be practical, and demanded an upright silhouette that would let the occupants keep wearing a hat even on the backseat, which resulted in stodgy cars, nicknamed "Keller boxes".

Problem was, that the general car market began to change when Americans discovered styling at the dawn of the 50s. Beside a new, low-slung Oldsmobile or Chevrolet, the DeSotos soon looked heavy and just a bit wrong. However, in 1949, the main reasons for buying these massive cars were dependability and DeSoto's solid build quality, rather than a sharp look. Yet, change was in the air, and with the introduction of Virgil Exner's "Forward Look" designs six years later, DeSoto should become one of the most stylish looking brands on the road.

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