Many car brands with storied histories have not survived to this day. One is DeSoto, formerly a division of Chrysler that specialized in the kind of huge family cars typical of American cars of the 1950s. Named after Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto, the brand was introduced as Chrysler’s mid-range brand, above Plymouth and below Dodge. Falling sales led to the brand retiring after 33 years in business.
Many successful cars were produced under the DeSoto name from 1928 until its disbandment in 1961. These included the DeSoto Six in 1929, the DeSoto Firedome in 1952, and the DeSoto Firesweep in 1957. The brand’s last years were the top of their line of cars was the adventurer.
The Adventurer was DeSoto’s best car during his last years, and as far as the last albums are concerned, it was a great note to end on.
History of the DeSoto Adventurer
The Adventurer was introduced in 1956 as an exclusive, limited-edition trim level of what had hitherto been DeSoto’s flagship model, the DeSoto Fireflite. And when we say limited edition, we mean it; only 1,950 of the 1957 DeSoto Adventurer were produced, and only 300 of those were convertibles. When the Adventurer was originally introduced, it was only available in the form of a two-door hardtop. The convertible option did not become available until 1957. In addition, until its last production year in 1960, the Adventurer was only available in two color schemes, black with gold trim and white with gold trim. Therefore it is very uncommon to find one with a different paint job.
It was very well received on the car’s debut, although sales were of course limited due to low production numbers. This was, of course, offset by the Adventurer’s rather hefty price tag, starting at $4,272. That works out to $45,155 today. But even by Adventurer’s low-stock standards, sales of the DeSoto Adventurer took a steep dive from 1957 onward, which was shared by the entire DeSoto lineup. This was due to changing market tastes, an economic downturn in the late 1950s that reduced sales of all mid-market car brands, and new competition from Ford in the form of the short-lived Edsel brand. That plunge continued for the rest of the Adventurer’s life until the car was discontinued in 1961 after just four years of production alongside the DeSoto brand itself.
Performance Features of the 1957 DeSoto Adventurer
The 1957 DeSoto Adventurer convertible is equipped with a 5.6-liter V8 engine that produces an advertised power output of 345 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 390 lb-ft of torque at 2400 rpm. That gives it a theoretical top speed of 126 miles per hour and a zero to sixty miles per hour acceleration time of 7.2 seconds, which is pretty impressive for the time period. It’s especially impressive when you consider that the DeSoto Adventurer isn’t exactly a lightweight. The DeSoto Adventurer has a curb weight of 4,410 lbs. As with most cars of the era, the Adventurer is a rear-wheel drive car, but more unusually, it was equipped with a 3-speed automatic transmission.
It’s not surprising that the Adventurer is a huge gas guzzler because of this. Its average fuel economy is only 9.7 miles per gallon, but gas was a lot cheaper back then and awareness of the effects of pollution was still a long way off. With a 23-gallon fuel tank, the Adventurer has a range of approximately 223 miles between refueling stops.
Other cool features of the 1957 DeSoto Adventurer
One of the best features is of course the roof. While convertibles tend to have poorer performance (and ironically a higher curb weight) than their hardtop equivalents, they make even the most mundane of cars more fun. And the adventurer is far from commonplace! This was at the height of the big car era, and at nearly 18 and a half feet in length, the Adventurer is practically a yacht that goes ashore rather than a car.
Styling features include: dual headlights, dual exhausts and the beautiful fin-covered design typical of high-end American cars of the 1950s. The Adventurer also had a great trim level for the period. Standard features include high-quality upholstery, a radio, an electronic clock, windshield washers and a full range of instruments. Optional features include power windows and air conditioning, which is incredibly impressive for a car in the 1950s, as it would be a long time before these became commonly offered features on cars, let alone standard features.
A Look Back at the DeSoto Firedome
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