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Early Hidden Headlamps! 1942 DeSoto Club Coupe


This 1942 DeSoto Custom S10 Club Coupe must be one of the first examples of hidden headlamps in a “regular” vehicle (I don’t consider Cords regular!) for sale in North America. This one is located in South San Francisco, California and is up for sale here on eBay. Bidding is currently at $3,000 but has not yet met the reserve.


The hidden lamps give this car a custom look; I wasn’t aware of this body style before this one and I find the super-clean design for the time very appealing. The seller has owned the car since 1990 and claims the car is completely stock. Unfortunately there is some rust present, as you can see by the holes in the rear fender.


You can see the shiny chrome in this picture; the ad states that both the front and rear bumpers and guards have been re-chromed, along with some of the side trim. I’m a little puzzled as to why the trim was reinstalled before fixing the rust holes in the body, as well as final painting for the car, but at least you know the components are all there.


As you can see from these pictures, the interior has some great styling features while remaining restrained. Obviously, a good amount of work will be necessary before the car would be ready to go, at least by my standards. The ad also mentions a 5” x 5” hole in the passenger side floor that you can see, as well as an area on the driver’s side that needs attention. The trunk floor also needs some help.


Supposedly, this car has only 8,875 miles, but there’s no documentation of this claim included in the auction. I would be assuming that’s actually 108k unless documentation was presented otherwise. I have a hard time accepting that a car like this would just sit after covering less than 9,000 miles. The engine is said to be the original 237 cubic inch inline 6, which would have had 109 horsepower when new, and the engine compartment doesn’t look bad considering how long it’s been dormant. The original 3-speed transmission is in place as well. What do you think about this DeSoto? Tell us in the comments below.


  1. Donnie

    I have never seen head lights that I do not no much abought DESOTOS .I do no that the gas brake and clutch peddles look like more then 9k

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  2. Donnie

    9000 miles I
    mint /not dollars oops

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  3. Jason Houston

    Ah, my kind car! Make mine burgundy with beige top and Overdrive, please.

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  4. Blindmarc

    Never saw one of these before.

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    • Jason Houston

      1942 cars were very rare, since they were only in production a short time before WWII broke out. Most were face-lifted in the front, but some – like Pontiac and Mercury – sustained some beautiful grill treatments that were ’42 only. And the ’42 De Soto had hidden headlights! Fascinating car study…

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  5. RON

    What a treasure. I love 42 cars because of their scarity but a Desoto like this is un believable. the first antique I bought in 1970 was a 42 Dodge. It never failed me on long trips and never ran hot in summer. I would love to own this car. what I fail to understand is why people buy a car like this and spend3 grand on plating before they hear it run or drive it. I would have known what might be wrong with the engine and driving it in 2 weeks after I got it. Doesn’t impress me sitting in a collection for 20 years with that kind of money or other cars . Do they run or Barn Art? He does have an interesting collection. Would like to have this one in my shop a few days!!!!

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  6. piper62j

    Very cool…

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  7. Jim

    I’m gonna have to throw the Bovine Excrement Card down on the mileage. There is NO WAY that car has only 9000 miles on it wit all the rust penetration and the deplorable condition of the interior.
    Other than that, I would love to own it and do a restoration on it. I’m willing to bet that the taillights are going to hard to find, though.
    Somebody walked all over the roof too, that will be tricky to make look good.

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  8. A.J.

    This car is going to bring a lot more than most of you guys would expect.

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  9. Ed P

    The 1946 Desoto’s were built using the ’42 bodies minus the hidden headlamps. This is certainly a unique car and worthy of preservation

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  10. Rob

    May take a lot to get it to look like this, but well worth it in the end, due to the one yr only hidden headlight feature, effectively advertised as “out of sight except at night.”

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  11. Steve

    It doesn’t look like it would take much to get her running. I wouldn’t touch the body, maybe the floors, and drive it just like it is. It has personality and a cool factor with that hot rod black paint job. Get some seats and enjoy her!

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  12. Wayne

    Some of these 1942 model cars with low kilometres have a very interesting and sad history accompanying them. My brother in law has a 1942 Hudson 2 door Brougham with 24000 miles on it. It is just like it was in the dealers showroom with all the delivery documentation. The young man that bought it was called up shortly afterwards and never returned home. His heartbroken mother couldn’t bear to sell it. After she died it went to a museum, and my brother in law purchased it from there. It’s now in OZ and still like new with NO ageing whatever.

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    • Jason Houston

      That’s fascinating… where is OZ?

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      • George

        Somewhere over the rainbow… (Australia)

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  13. Joe

    I really like this car from all angles, especially the direct side view in the ebay ad. Just super nice. The proportions from top to bottom almost look like it has a slight chop, a nice aggressive look. Wheel size and color look very good. With paint scheme it has a bit of a rat rod flavor as well, which is just enough. Agree with Steve, I could drive it just as is with some sort of seat covers so as not to breathe in the dust.

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  14. Mark E

    Chrysler did the 1940/41 dual cowl Newport Phaeton but now you’ve gone from unusual to fantastically rare. Out of the 5 built Lana Turner had a red one and Walter P. kept one for personal use. They had custom aluminum bodies on a New Yorker frame. Another notable accomplishment of the 1940/41 Chrysler Newport Phaeton was the fact that it was the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 in 1941. The car that ran the first leg of the race was painted a bright yellow with “Chrysler” written on the side in bold black script. One of the amazing trivia facts about that pace car was that the running gear was NOT replaced….it ran on the conventional Chrysler gears.

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    • Sunbeamer Stu

      Much nicer bumper! The S10 is a beautiful design, but those massive industrial bumpers don’t fit.

      Never seen either of these cars before. Neat!

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  15. Chris in Australia

    Oz = Aus = Australia.

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  16. Tom

    From the looks of the brake & clutch pedals I think this car has a Chrysler touch a matic transmission.

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  17. Tom

    The sagging door handles and general interior condition indicate 109000 miles.

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  18. Wayne

    OZ as in Australia

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    • Wayne

      Howdy Wayne, I’ll change my user name as to avoid confusion amongst posters. I’ll be SK, LOL…

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  19. Rich

    The ad states that the body is solid and rust free. I guess we’re supposed to ignore the obvious signs of rust, must be ventilation holes.

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  20. Wayne

    Different Wayne… I will never, and I mean NEVER get this whole “satin” finish craze. Ah well, to each their own…

    Like 1
    • Jason Houston

      “Satin finish” is just an amateur’s description of “dull paint”. He may not know it’s not a factory term, but rather a common generic name on household rattle-can spray paints you get at the dime store. And, no, you don’t want to paint a car with it.

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  21. Wayne

    I know Jason. I had my own (side line) shop from ’88 thru ’95 until a domestic dispute otherwise know as divorce forced liquidation. All of my customers save one, wanted their vehicles to be sprayed in a fashion where they could see their own reflections. The one exception was a 1923 Model T that I did a frame-off resto on. The owner mentioned to his Grand Dad that he wanted it gloss black. Well, Grand Dad nearly had apoplexy at the thought of a shiny ’23 T, saying that he had seen them new, and there “Weren’t nuthin’ shiny about ’em ‘cept the headlights!” So, dark gray primer, wet sanding and a dry buffing wheel it was. Everyone was happy. Especially me when I cashed the check. However, I still would have liked to put a nice old fashioned synthetic black lacquer shine on her. Oh well, as I stated previously, to each their own…

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    • Jason Houston

      Your Grand Dad is one of the few priceless resources we have left that explains certain bits of history that are just impossible to reconcile, except from someone who was there! God bless him…

      Likewise, people today think post-1957 Thunderbirds were in fact finely engineered automobiles, when nothing could be further from the truth. I worked in Ford service during the 1960s and these were the most problematic cars Ford had ever turned loose onto the public. At any given moment, half of any Ford dealer’s service dept. in our region was Econolines (throttle linkage problems) and Thunderbirds (electrical nightmares). One customer drove from Florida to Long Beach in a new black ’65 convertible with white interior. They put the top down around OK City when it started to rain. NO Ford dealer between OK City and Calif. could figure out what was wrong with it. When it got to Long Beach the local dealer had the car five days and couldn’t fix it. They owners were angry as hell, swearing they would never buy a Ford again.

      I notice Ford just came out with a flat black primer Mustang. The entire car is flat back, except the glass. I think the factory name is Black Satin, like the bon-bon spray cans. I guess once it hits the ghetto it will look familiar.

      Like 1
  22. DENIS

    I really like it but the $$ are growin…I assume the headlites are vacuum-operated…I have never seen one in living color and I’ve owned lots of old MOPARS..

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  23. Joe

    Bright colors to dark colors to bright colors etc etc the cycles continues. There are definite trends in car colors. Before those black model T’s, “automobiles” (motorized carriages) were painted bright colors like yellow and orange and were taken from horse drawn carriage colors and paint methods. Assembly lines –and most early Model T Fords had dark asphalt based paints because they were easier to apply, dried quicker, and fit into the mass production of the assembly line process.
    In the 1920’s after WWI brighter rainbow colors were much more common (yellow, bright blue, red). These color trends changed depending on larger societal issues, like wars and the economy. Next time you are on the road note that today most cars are achromatic– white, gray (silver) or black. Again the result of the recent recession an shifts in how consumers think about cars. The flat/satin black paint on this 42 Desoto may just be primer but for me the satin black paint effect works very well on this car…it is attractive. The flat paint helps to visually understate the car, even with 50% of the front as chrome, the satin black make it all less showy, less sparkly, and more part of the background than a pop out figure that would be produced by a gloss coat.. For me this car is both retro and cutting edge. It is a piece of art and a statement about current thinking.

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  24. Frank Ronzino

    I have had about 700 vehicles since I was 14. I’m 60 and have wanted a 42 desoto for 30 plus years. When I had the money I got side tracked and didn’t get one. When I didn’t have the money I’d find a couple of course. If anyone finds one I’m sure interested. As long as it runs or could be made to run with a whole rebuild I’m interested. Thanks. A 42 Chrysler may be ok.

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  25. Buzz Phillips

    I know a lot about these Desotos. I grew up with them and they have always been a favorite. Unfortunately, I am too old to take on another project or I would certainly be interested in the ’42. They are unique in a lot of ways and are different than the 46 thru 49 (first series) cars. This car deserves a quality restoration back to original.

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  26. John Bishop

    so did you sell it?

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  27. John Bishop

    oops forgot to ask for comments

    Like 0

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