Derelict or Driver? 1956 Desoto Firedome

Despite looking like another derelict car tucked away in a back yard, this 1956 Desoto Firedome is actually a driver, and is ready to roll. With a great “yard” appeal, a nice interior and a Hemi, this Desoto is offered for $3,900. Find it here on craigslist out of Marysville, Washington.

Although covered with some leaves and other dried vegetation, the engine bay of this Desoto looks pretty good for living outside. With only a hint of surface rust on the radiator support, a soapy bath would do wonders for this engine bay. The 331 Hemi V8 has been rebuilt and is reported as being a healthy runner. The transmission is a push button unit, so if you have yet to own or drive a push button auto car, this may very well be your chance!

After taking a look at the exterior and the engine bay, it is no surprise that the interior of this Desoto is so nice. With some obvious flaws present, the interior needs little if you are a minimalist, or appreciate originality. The dash shimmers as if it is 1956 in the very moment you look at it. The color scheme is actually rather pleasant with the muted pale yellow, and the crisp black accents. The seats are flaw free, but appear to be modern seat covers. Although suffering from some mild water stains, the door panels are nice, with no other damage. Firmly mounted in place, the headliner has some staining around the back window, possibly hinting at that rear window seal being leaky. Modern day seat belts have been installed, so as soon as you pick this up, you can immediately take your friends for a ride.

Sharing the same paint scheme as the interior, the body of this Desoto looks straight, but we need to talk about some of the rust that is present. There is surface rust, and rust bubbling present on this Desoto. The worst of it looks to be around the rear bumper area, and the spare tire well in the trunk. Also there is some bubbling pointed out by the seller in between the front and back doors on one side of this vehicle. Described as having “some rust, not structural” this Desoto looks like another affordable fair weather driver. A restoration would be wonderful, but the cost for many would be prohibitive. Polish this one up as much as you can, drive it, enjoy it, and store it in a garage. Its current condition could be maintained for many years.  Would you take on this reasonably priced driver?

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Comments

  1. 68 custom

    looks like a cheap way to by a hemi powered car with four wheel disc brakes and a cool dash layout, rust is scary but might be fun to clean it up and cruise into the sunset!

  2. Jack R.

    Some saddle blanket seat covers from Outlaw Products (www.outlawproducts.com) would look amazing on there!

  3. Benjamin

    Shame it’s on the wrong coast. I would love to park this beauty in my drive.

  4. packrat

    Washington State can sure keep an interior nice for decades. Had I picked a more financially rewarding path in life, my daydream would be to pick this up and set up a play date with an appropriately priced dry body (picture from Desert Valley Auto Parts), preferably with missing bumpers, weather frosted pot metal, a broiled mosaic of an interior and glass ironically clouded from a half-century of cloudless sunny afternoons. Push both into the barn and play a leisurely meditative round of mix and match with the interior, glass and chrome to have the best of both worlds, with spares where the good parts overlap. But that’s just me, because I’ve already had the experience of finding the *rest* of the rust-nests on the project *after* I’ve brought it home, the late afternoon discovery found after a tiring day of exploration and detailing, the Heartbreaker that in hindsight obviously made the previous owner throw in the towel and put the For Sale sign out. I’ve had unsatisfyingly limited success with permanently exorcising *all* the demons out of body panels made soggy with rust, without seeing them bubble back up out of the grave long before our local “sixteen year cicadas” erupt again.

  5. Ed P

    This is not a Chrysler 331 cid Hemi. It is a Desoto 330 cid hemi. Desoto had it’s own engine line that was separate from the Chrysler and Dodge hemi’s. The bore and stroke for Desoto is 3.72×3.80. Chrysler’s bore and stroke is 3.81×3.63.

  6. Howard A Member

    This one’s a little rough. Sorry, they’ve got to be cleaner than this to start with, like the Chrysler’s a ways back. The brake setup is a welcome addition ( although, I’d be interested to see how that was done) but for being rebuilt, the engine looks like most of the slimey hemi’s I used to work on. Love the “DeSoto” theme, but make no mistake, it’s going to take more than polish to make this a driver.

    • jaygryph

      Howard, what do you like?

      • Howard A Member

        Trucks, all kinds. Don’t get me wrong, I like these cars, just this particular one is going to need lots of work. And when done, by today’s standards, it’s going to be a beast to drive around, wallowing in the corners, voracious appetite for fuel, ( it takes premium, dude) and even with the disc brakes, it still weighs over 2 tons, and the brakes will do a good job,,,of locking up the tires. Besides, most of us here are “armchair” car restorers, and very few actually buy these things. It’s fun to talk about them, though.

  7. G 1

    No power steering. The tach like clock is missing, or the one in the center of the steering wheel. ( Desoto had them in 55-56).

  8. John C Cargill

    Just like my first car. Love to have it but 2000 miles away.

  9. Phil Maniatty

    The finish on the top of the instrument panel is not original. They weren’t painted with a full gloss finish. They were finished in a semi-gloss that was not smooth, but had texture to it similar to the finish on a stereo component.

  10. charlie Member

    My best friend’s father had one, 80 mph all day on the open highways “out west”. Used to feel the temp of the tires every two hours or so, and look for sidewall bubbles, and check the oil at every fill up. (But the gas station attendant did it, and showed you the dipstick) No seat belts, a steering wheel that would destroy your chest in a front end collision, minimal brakes, and bias ply tires with a useful life of about 25,000 miles, and a propensity to blow out, but for 1956 it was great. The good old days.

    Like 1
  11. John C Cargill

    I had to buy it from my brother. It was his and one day the brakes failed and I hit a newspaper stand. Damage, some green paint on rt frt fender and one broken 1×6. No ticket. $20.00 in 1964 it was all I had. Later sold it for the hemi for $25.00. Rare profit on a used car.

  12. Woodie Man

    Howard….I dont know. That black and yellow is mighty attractive. Im guessing those seat covers are, if not original, darn close. Really pretty car…In todays world for the money I think this is pretty much a good deal.more or less. Yeah it’s rusty but that just takes money…..looks pretty good ottherwise

  13. John

    I wish there were pictures of the disk brake conversion. That intrigues me.

    • John C Cargill

      Yes, I’d love to know what they used. But the lack of power steering would have to be addressed. My 56 had working PS. But I’ve driven Buick, Olds and Pontiac of the era without it and it is extremely difficult.

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