1953 DeSoto Hemi Fire Dome

left front

My favorite barn finds are old sedans like these that are reasonably priced, somewhat unique, and won’t take a lot of work to make driveable. This old DeSoto, listed here on craigslist in Placerville, California with a reasonable asking of $3,000, could be one of those cars. It appears complete and original and is said to be pretty well rust-free. It was in storage for 45 years and is a low mileage car, though the mileage isn’t given.

The outside looks solid and complete, much like it must have looked 45 years ago when it was parked.

The dash makes a nice impression. It would be nice to see what the rest of the interior is like. If that’s how the trunk was originally finished it’s in incredible condition. They haven’t tried to restart the engine, but it appears they’ve done a lot of cleaning under the hood. Besides the usual mechanical work this might need there is, as always, the question of why it was parked. If this old DeSoto is as nice as it’s represented, I think it would make an inexpensive and nice driver.

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Comments

  1. fred

    Really nice looking engine compartment for a barn find. The good ones are never nearby.

  2. David Wilk Member

    Gone already. This looks like it was a great deal for its new owner, if indeed it sold.

  3. Healeydays

    Already gone. Someone agreed it was a good deal.

  4. Jason Houston

    What a pretty old De Soto. It has 1966 plates on it.

  5. Ed P

    Nice old Desoto. It looks like it has the semi automatic transmission. Could this tranny have failed and caused it to be parked? I think somebody got a nice car.

  6. John

    I burned my thumb on the cigarette lighter from one of these. First time I every saw one, I pushed it in and it didn’t come back out so I pulled on it. It came out and fell on the floor. I picked it up, briefly. I was 4. It hurt.

    The car was a leaker. It got traded for a 55 Buick Roadmaster a little over a year later. My Dad said he missed it for about 20 years.

  7. Gary I

    I got one for $300 about ten years ago. I bought it because of the can’t pass it up price, with no interest in spending the time restoring it. I pulled the 11 tooth grill and some other choice parts before sending it to the scrap yard. Scrap was up so I got $500 for it and thought I made out since I did profit. The grill is pretty valuable and I still have it waiting for the right project some day, so all and all I did ok. If I had someone interested in it at the time I would have sold it, but I couldn’t find any interest at the time. If this one went for $3,000 I can’t believe I couldn’t find any interest in mine. I did not have a hemi, only a flathead, maybe that’s why.

  8. PaulieB
  9. Mark S Member

    Nice old car, I really like the look of that engine. I think I’d like that engine even more if it was under the hood of my 1951 dodge Mayfair 2 door hard top. That would be about the only way I’d part with the 6 cylinder 218 cid. L head that is in the car now. Nice find.

  10. Howard A Member

    This site is incredible. Remember my story on the ’54 Chrysler a few days ago, where my friend put a Hemi in it from a ’53 DeSoto? THIS was that car! ( not literally, of course) After looking up “Hemi”, this could be any number of displacements,as DeSoto and Dodge had their own c.i. Hemi’s.( no Plymouth Hemi’s until 1964) The one my friend put in his Chrysler was not a 331, but the smaller 276 ( I thought they made smaller Hemi’s) Sure would be a beast to drive around.

    • Eric Dashman

      Howard A, I also commented on the 54 Chrysler. This Desoto is the exact body style of my Dad’s 54 Chrysler, and it’s also the same color combination (if the top is a faded black and not dark blue). I question whether this Desoto is a 53. I think it’s more likely a 54. In 53 the rear windows were actually 3 windows, with a large center section and small outer sections separated by vertical chrome strips. I know this was true for Chrysler and I believe also true for Desotos.
      BTW, note the chrome grab bars on the back of the rear seat. We had the same in our 54 Chrysler…with no seat belts, a particularly dangerous feature.

    • Eric Dashman

      Howard A, I also commented on the 54 Chrysler. This Desoto is the exact body style of my Dad’s 54 Chrysler, and it’s also the same color combination (if the top is a faded black and not dark blue). I question whether this Desoto is a 53. I think it’s more likely a 54. In 53 the rear windows were actually 3 windows, with a large center section and small outer sections separated by vertical chrome strips. I know this was true for Chrysler and I believe also true for Desotos.
      BTW, note the chrome grab bars on the back of the rear seat. We had the same in our 54 Chrysler…with no seat belts, a particularly dangerous feature.

    • Ed P

      Howard, Chrysler made three hemi’s in the early 50’s. The 331 was the Chrysler engine. Desoto had a 276 and Dodge had a 241. The crazy thing about these hemi motors is, they all had different blocks. An economy minded company would have made 1 block with 3 different displacements, but that was not Chrysler in the early ’50’s.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Ed, if memory serves, that same guy blew up the 276 in short order and got a 392 from somewhere, thinking it would bolt right in and we tried putting that in the car, and nothing matched up. I remember grinding something off so it would fit. Funny, since you’re into early Hemi’s, we think of Hemi’s today as these chrome fire breathing monsters, but back then, they were heavy, oily, gas gulping slugs. Did you know? ( I didn’t) Chrysler made the loudest air raid siren ever, powered by a 331 Chrysler Hemi.

      • Ed P

        Howard, the Fluidtorq Drive semi auto was a drag on acceleration. The 331 was the same size as Cadillacs v8 but had more HP. I have heard of the Air Raid Siren.

  11. Wabbit

    One of my shop projects in high school auto mech. class was to take one of these that had been sitting out in a pasture for many years and make it run again. people donated cars and old trucks to the class.Being to son of a mechanic/paint and body man/ welder I had learned about everything taught in the class already so to challenge me and as a final exam test grade I had to do an automatic transmission overhaul on the transmission from this car the rest of the class helped with everything but the trans. once finished it was sold to buy extra tools and shop supplies.

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