Live Auctions

Affordable Explorer: 1949 Desoto Custom Coupe


Although this is not the famed Spanish Explorer, this 1949 Desoto Custom is ready to take you exploring. Appearing clean and road ready, we are having a difficult time passing up this Desoto. Even more so with its $4,500 price tag. Find it here on craigslist out of Eugene, Oregon.


Simple and appearing mostly original the engine and bay look to be in fair condition. The dusty and dirty appearance show more to the fact that this Desoto is a driver. A good cleaning and some tlc would go a long way for this engine bay. The inline 6 and automatic transmission have been listed as being rebuilt at some point of the cars history.


The interior is sharp, and clean. This Desoto looks like a comfortable and inviting ride. The seats have been reupholstered, and new carpet has been fitted.  As we look this car over we keep wondering what the story is on this car. The interior, dashboard and steering wheel look great. The paint in the door jams and in the engine bay match the exterior nicely. The seller has not said if this car is a survivor, or restored. The exterior paint is the biggest let down on this Desoto, with the clear coat suffering from delamination.  The chrome, paint, body, and glass all look very nice in this Desoto.   It would appear that maybe at the least this Desoto received a paint job many years ago. Fortunately rust appears to be at a minimum with mention of some rust in the trunk.


Although the paint is a bit of a letdown, the rest of this Desoto is stellar. A fresh paint job would do the rest of the car justice, but it could just as easily be left alone and driven for a while. No matter what the buyer decides, the price on this Desoto is just right. So would you pick up this Desoto? What would you do with this Desoto Custom Coupe?


  1. Coventrycat

    Nice car, attractive price. Something weird going on with that heater box(?) in the engine bay though.

  2. Fred W.

    I literally jumped when I saw the price on this one and the pictures were not a letdown. That would be a bargain even for a 4 door, but a two door with that stylish roofline rake? The heater box is just deteriorating fiberglass, easy to patch or replace. My dad never let go of the fact that my ’59 Mercedes had heater ducts made of “cardboard”(MB would call it “fiberboard) . “… *%! German Junk!”

  3. Hoos Member

    I really like this car, and I think the price is reasonable, but it is the same old story……money isn’t available for the car or the shipping. Oh well…….
    another one slips by.

  4. David Frank David Member

    Grand old sled reasonably priced. Love it! This would be a great driver just as it is, or with a little help. Was it repainted? Clear coat? Of course it’s a repaint. Thanks for the great writeup Brian!

  5. Mark S

    Great car I’d repaint it, this time with single stage paint.

  6. Vince Habel

    Fluid drive not a automatic

  7. Leman H. Wilson

    Fluid Drive was only from 1946 to 1948 in 1949 they went to a 2-speed torque flite trans.I had a 1949 Plymouth wagon and it was automatic.

    • Marty Parker

      Fluid Drive was used in DeSoto into the early 50’s. Plymouth didn’t offer the two speed automatic until 54. Was called “Hi-Drive”.

      Like 1
  8. Loco Mikado

    The interior picture shows a clutch pedal so it is a Fluid Drive. A nice car and the clutch in these old cars with low speed high torque engines and fluid drive are so much easier to operate than a newer stick shift. Most of the time you can start out in 2nd or even high. Try that with today’s cars and you go nowhere and burn up the clutch disk..

  9. Craig MacDonald

    I drove a ’50 DeSoto through High School in Seattle, and that transmission is an oddity. But once you’re used to it the thing works quite well. Let off the gas to go from 1st to 2nd, move the lever from 2nd to 3rd, and then off the gas again from 3rd to 4th. Only use the clutch to start off and to make that 2nd to 3rd shift, but depressing it for the other two shifts would smooth them out a bit.
    Wasn’t exactly a chick magnet in the late 60’s, but still a good looking car, and about 15 miles from where I now live. Hmmmm.

  10. Pete

    Who painted the tail lights?

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Meaning that they might have been repainted? Custom’s tail light housings were painted from the factory, sans the chrome trim surrounding the lens. I have seen a few that were chromed later and do look cool…but not correct.

  11. DrinkinGasoline

    I find it funny that the seller used “hemi” as a tag word. That said, at that price, it sure would look great next to my 49 four door in the garage. I paid 4k for mine 20 years ago.

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