Barn Find 1948 DeSoto Limousine


A DeSoto limo? I didn’t even know there was such a thing! And a real barn find to boot! I did find out that a limo was listed in the factory catalog for 1948. This unusual car is located in Westport, Massachusetts and is up for sale here on eBay, where bidding is currently below $5.00 (not a typo!), but I’m sure it will have to go higher to meet the reserve.


The seller purchased the car from the wife of the man who bought it from a funeral parlor in 1981. It’s been stored ever since, unfortunately not in a perfect location, but at least most of the car has been under cover. The ad says there’s no rot in the floors, trunk floor, frame or body other than two small spots inside the rear doors under the rubber sills. However, there is surface rust coming through the paint on the body, and the roof and hood have some surface rust where there were large piles of bird droppings.


The seller has been able to free up the engine, get it running, and has driven it around the yard. They have cleaned the gas tank and installed a new fuel pump, as well as replacing ignition components and what sounds like a full brake job.


Inside, you can see the interior is basically sound but in need of freshening; by that I mean that everything’s good for patterns, but to make it really nice you’ll be replacing a lot of components. The “jump seats” are a neat feature! I realize this car was used as a funeral car, but unlike a hearse, there’s no obvious design features that carry a stigma.


This is what should be a 237 cubic inch inline 6. I found the spark plug spacing on the head pretty unusual; look at the space between plug one and two. Then I realized that the #1 plug is hidden behind the radiator hose and housing. The seller says the fluid drive seems to be operating correctly, but there are still some issues with gear selection. I think it would be great to finish the mechanical debugging, and in this case, finish the body in gleaming black. I know, a lot of you would like to preserve the patina, but in this case I think this could be a totally visually commanding package. What would you do?


  1. RayT Member

    Even though it has already climbed to almost $800.00 — and will surely go higher — I agree that this would be coolest if restored! I doubt anyone would rate it as “fun” to drive (it will certainly be slow and ponderous), but who cares? It looks neat, and would look better still in fresh, shiny black.

    There seems to be a coachbuilder’s badge on the front fender. Wonder who it was? Even though this DeSoto will almost certainly never be a big-bucks Collector’s Item, you’ll seldom see another one.

    • dave

      Car does 80 with ease. Restored one time with the original engine overhaul one time.
      Just visited a local repair shop that the owner owns a 1947 Desoto Custome with a million miles on it. It was used to chauffeur movie stars between our town of Sonora Ca to L.A. CA. The car was in a Christmas parade on the day after Thanksgiving

      Like 1
      • dave

        This car has a fascinating history!!

        Like 1
      • dave

        If the rear seat could talk!!!

        Like 1
      • dave

        Back shot

        Like 1
      • Patrick McConnell

        Another BF reader from Sonora!
        What garage is that from? I feel like I’ve seen it before. You’ve probably seen me bouncing around in my white 1970 Volkswagen!

      • Jason Houston

        Hey, that’s one beautiful car. Your AOH plate gave it away as a local car from Sonora. I had a 1957 Custom 300 with AOS263 from Sonora, which is a beautiful town, too!

  2. Rich

    This would look great if it had an oem visor above the front window. Nice find and hope it gets saved.

  3. Woodie Man

    This would have been the kind of car as a seventeen year old car nut I would have bought in a second. In fact I did. I had a ’47 Chrysler sedan when I lived in Colorado…in about the same shape…almost the same car. Had it parked in front of my cabin along a County road. Unbelievably one day I get back from pounding nails and the car is gone. The County claimed it was illegally parked on the county road. For some reason lost to the haze of time..and probably due to my youth and then unsophisticated understanding of how these things work….I just let it go. So I bought a ’60 Pontiac airport limo…with a bed platform in the back….much more practical!. If this was on the West coast and didnt climb much higher it would be a fun project.

    Like 1
  4. Vince Habel

    Was a PA car at one time

  5. francisco

    With show tires it’s ready for winter.

  6. Fred

    All you need is a roof rack, Ritchie, Ralph and Potsie, shown here drag racing Howard’s ride.

    Like 1
  7. Jim Mc

    In the parking lot at Cobra Lounge / All Rise Brewing in Chicago

    Like 1
    • Woodie Man

      There was a dark blue one of these( say ’52, ’53) in San Diego in the early eighties.

      • Jim Mc

        The silver one pictured is a true limo, double doors on the passenger side (can’t remember if they’re suicide doors?) but only a single door on the driver’s side. DeSoto for sure, looks to be a ’51 but has a small hood scoop instead of ornament, and something on the roof as well. No idea if Chrysler made it or if it was aftermarket. I’m by there every day but have never seen it move. If I knew the owner I’d ask for details.

  8. Jim Mc

    Beautiful car, as is the truck next to it.

  9. Rex Kahrs Member

    I’d like to have the 63 rambler in the bushes next to the Desoto.

  10. francisco

    It has Pennsylvania Antique license plate. Some of these older plates are now collector’s items.

  11. Stephen

    Pretty sure that’s the factory eight passenger sedan and not a custom stretch.

  12. Mark S

    Way cool car restore, repainted limo black, dark red leather interior, big fat white walls, and vinyl window stickers of a gangster holding a tompson machine gun with the barrel cartridge.on both back side windows just for fun.

  13. Rich Member

    I believe lots of these ended up in Israel. Eventually repowered with diesel power. I saw plenty in 1967.

  14. ric Parrish

    An old guy who ran our YMCA affiliate ‘Gray Y”, a grade school event, had one of these, I rode many miles in it, usually on one of the jump seats.

  15. Juan

    Correct me if I´m wrong but the Limo didn´t come with a diving glass? Here in Argentina I saw 2 bought from a Funeral Home, the owner claimed that only a little more than 100 were made (if I rembemeber correctly).

  16. Rich Cypher

    My brother Bill bought this Desoto and is planning a complete restoration with wide whites. We have both been trying to determine the difference between a LWB sedan and a limo. Thats what brought me to this sight.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.