Barn Hemi: 1955 DeSoto FireFlite Sportsman

Josh MortensenBy Josh Mortensen

This 1955 DeSoto FireFlite Sportsman might not be for everyone, but if you’ve been looking for an affordable Hemi powered classic, this could be the car for you. While the FireFlite was DeSoto’s flagship model, they aren’t extremely valuable today. This one has been in barn storage for a while and can now be found here on eBay.

DeSoto was created in 1928 by Chrysler as a mid-priced brand to compete with GM and Studebaker. The FireFlite was so successful that ’55 was the best year the company had seen since 1946. Sadly the success was short lived and Chrysler killed off the marque five years later.

The FireFlite is powered by a 291 cui Hemi V8, which is rated at 200 hp. The seller claims they have gotten the engine running, but not whether the car is drivable. We would guess it will need some work before it will be safe to drive. There were around 10,000 of these 2-door FireFlites built in ’55, but we haven’t seen many still floating around. We aren’t sure about the availability of parts for it, but given that it is a Chrysler product, we would assume most things can be found.

The interior looks complete, but needs work. This wasn’t the most luxurious car one could get in ’55, but it was well appointed for its price range and was known to be very comfortable to travel in. There weren’t many options offered for the FireFlite, but one could order a two tone paint scheme. Looking at the door jambs and engine bay, we are going to guess that someone resprayed it at some point in time

It hopefully won’t take a ton of work to get this thing back on the road. As long as there aren’t any serious structural rust issues, it shouldn’t be. Given the current market, we would fix what needs to be to drive it and just enjoy it. What would you do with this Hemi powered classic? Would you leave it as is, rod it, or do a rolling restoration? Not that we think this has any impact on the value of the car, but it would seem this car is being sold by the guys from Gas Monkey Garage and the show Fast and Loud.

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  1. Thomas Spencer

    freshen up the mechanicals, brakes, & tires, give it a good cleaning inside and out, drop a Vintage Air a/c system in it, and drive it daily.

  2. paul

    When I see something like this that is basically intact, I would leave it stock & restore, if the engine is missing or other main parts, those cars are good candidates for resto mods.

    • paul

      I do love Desoto’s very cool.

    • Horse Radish

      makes sense, that’s what I would do.
      Putting it back together to original will put you in the poorhouse on any car !

  3. pete bishop

    With all due respect to the DeSoto (and agreed, it IS really sweet) I’d take the fire truck in the background in a HEARTBEAT!!! How cool would THAT ride be!?

  4. Phil

    I suspected Gas Monkey Garage aka Fast And Loud was involved when I saw the Bruco fire and rescue truck, featured on a recent episode, parked in the back ground.

  5. Lori

    What a beauty! Make it mechanically sound and clean up the inside and drive it daily. Which is what I intend to do when I find my “perfect for me” 63 Studebaker GT Hawk. :o)

  6. J. Pickett

    Clean it up and make it safe and drive it. I had a 56 in high school, a four door sedan Firedome. Great ride.

  7. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    The 331 CI hemi was found in Chryslers. Desotos got the smaller Hemi, as the seller said in his correction to the eBay listing.

    These Fireflite (note to seller: it’s one word) hardtops are pretty attractive. For me they avoid the excesses of some of the more extreme and…let’s say…odd ’50s styling. I am more of a Euro performance car person, but I could sure enjoy Cruise Night in this Fireflite.

    If the reserve is reasonable this could be a good entry to Cruise Night for someone, but there are signs of rust in some of the photos (but no underside shots), so look closely at the sheet metal. The good news is that it looks just about complete.

    • paul

      Yep I’m with you more of the euro type, but as you said cool for a cruise night without braking the bank. I did drive one of these a long time ago & they were smooth & quiet the engines were amazing, you didn’t even know the thing was running.

  8. Bill

    It would be fun to fix this car as needed and clean it up real well, then drive it as it is. Now, that ’60 Catalina in the background would be a great candidate for a resto-mod.

    • paul

      Only if it’s missing parts but if it’s all there, keep it stock. But that’s just me.

  9. twwokc

    The fire truck, the DeSoto and the 60 Pontiac. Now thats an interesting garage.
    I have always like the DeSotos and this one looks like a basically a good starting spot. Wouldnt do a whole lot to this one,

  10. FRED


  11. Gnrdude

    I’d Clean it Up Give the Motor a Going Over Some new rubber & Seals Drive it as is.

  12. Rancho Bella

    Not only do I like the featured car but diggin’ big time on the firetruck in the background.

  13. Horse Radish

    This reminds me of a 1955 DeSoto Firedome.
    A local metal recycler/towing yard had one of these RUST FREE ! sitting in the back lot.
    I repeatedly asked if it was for sale: ” no, no it’s a buddy’s car. just storing it”. He did give me a phone number, but it was no good.
    Then it got moved to another yard and ‘tossed around’ for months on end and as goes with that it looked worse every time I saw it…..
    I lost track and it finally disappeared, mind you this was all going on with junk yard activity and a crusher ‘nearby’.
    I doubt that it survived.
    I tried to save it, I really did !

  14. william

    one early morning a about 12 years ago on the way to work saw a Desoto station wagon in silver gray with a cartop carrier looked like it came from the showroom the driver his wife and three kids all wearing 50s cloths. it was very strange like something from the twilight zone.
    it appeared to have same front grill/bumper as the above.


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