Golden Opportunity? Rare 1956 DeSoto Adventurer

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

In 1955, Chrysler launched the first luxury, high-performance muscle car salvo with the iconic C-300. Some called it the “Beautiful Brute” which is an accurate moniker. The totally redesigned ’55 Chrysler coupe was an awesome package of 50’s high style and high performance, thanks to its 331-cubic-inch Hemi V8, the most powerful production V8 coming out of Detroit that year. The DeSoto gang wanted in on the action, too, and the next year they offered their more blinged-out version of a limited-production, high-performance luxury coupe called the Golden Adventurer. Only a scant 966 were produced and according to the seller, this is one of 32 known survivors from a February 1956 two-week production run. Located in the Houston area in Pasadena, Texas, this very rare Mopar is for sale here on craigslist for $20,000.

The seller shares that he bought the DeSoto more than 15 years ago and it once won a People’s Choice Award at a large car show. Unfortunately, fate stepped in and the Adventurer sat outside as the seller’s time and financial resources were consumed caring for an elderly mother and his disabled wife. Only a few photos are supplied and it’s hard to understand why no images of the car’s interior or its brutish 341-cubic-inch Hemi V8 are included. Adventurers only came in gold/black/white color options in 1956 and this one is wearing the classy Adventurer Gold and Surf White combo (with those awesome, hard-to-find, gold wheel covers). It’s tough to judge the current condition of the paint, but it looks presentable as does the chrome, glass, and trim, and the owner claims it is complete. It appears to be in a driveway on a jack stand.

The seller admits there is exterior sheet metal rust issues and shows a photo of the driver’s door and another of some trim rust, but no other details are given. He claims, “The rust is not underbody rot. The frame is nice and there is original paint on the floors.” DeSoto carried the Adventurer gold theme inside as well with gorgeous, upscale gold and brown interiors that came with power seats and windows, plus a padded instrument panel. Two interesting (and probably rare) options you could order included a self-winding Benrus clock in the steering wheel hub and Chrysler’s new Highway Hi-Fi, the compact phonograph that was mounted under the dash and played special 16 2/3-rpm discs. The seller shares the only modification to the car is an under-the-dash air conditioner unit. Too bad no photos were included.

And too bad no pics of the engine were included, either. Under that hood you should find a 341-cubic inch Hemi V8 with dual four-barrel carbs that generated 320 horsepower. When tested back in the day, the Adventurer achieved a 137 mph top speed at Daytona and was clocked at 144 mph at the Chrysler Proving Grounds. Not too shabby.The mileage is listed as 70,000 and the seller shares, “It was driven to where it sits. The motor was rotated frequently. I feel it could be driven with a days work but is sold AS IS.” The owner lists the overall condition of his Adventurer as “Fair” and in need of TLC. Hagerty’s estimates the value of a ’56 Adventurer in #4 Fair Condition at $27,200. Sure, a lot of questions remain about this DeSoto’s current condition, but on the surface, it appears to be a solid (and very rare) car with a more-than-fair asking price.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    The car appears to be sitting on a jack stand a bit behind the left front wheel.

    Like 4
    • Ron Denny Ron DennyAuthor

      Good eye. I’ve edited the article…much obliged.

      Like 3
      • Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

        Nice article Ron, happy to help.

        Like 3
  2. Will Fox

    One thing is for sure with this find: This car worth every dime you invest in restoring it. Limited edition for the time, and fewer than 1000 built. Only model worth more would be the convertible version. Too bad so few photos included. Would love to see the interior.

    Like 7
    • Sparky

      Top convertible in ’56 was the Fireflite; no Adventurer convert.
      Regardless, would hate to lose that sweet bubble-esque hardtop roof.

      Like 3
      • Ron Denny Ron DennyAuthor

        Sparky, I didn’t think DeSoto made an Adventurer convertible in ’56, either. In researching this article, I found out that a convertible Adventurer was made as the Official Pace Car of the 5/30/56 Indy 500. DeSoto produced 100 Adventurer Pace Car convertible replicas…

        Like 3
      • Will Fox

        I guess you forgot (or never knew of) the `56 Indy Pace car, which was an Adventurer in gold/white! There were a few hundred ‘replicas’ that dealers sold too. Google it.

        Like 3
      • DeSoto Dave

        The pace car convertible replicas, of which around 400 were built, was actually a Fireflite with the Adventurer trim, interior, and colors. If you look at photos of them, you’ll see the “Fireflite” emblem on the front fender, not the “Adventurer” rear quarter emblem. The Adventurer officially was only available as a hardtop in 1956. In 1957, you could get both body styles.

        Like 0
  3. MLM

    With a 20K asking price, this car may not last that long. I won’t be a bit surprised if someone scoops this up real soon. This is one nice looking car.

    Like 5
  4. tiger66

    @Ron: There was no Adventurer convertible in ’56. The Indy pace car was a gold and white Fireflite convertible. DeSoto did make an estimated 400 Pacesetter convertibles with the same color scheme that replicated the pace car, but they were Fireflites, not Adventurers.


    Like 6
  5. Bob nicholas

    A lot of questions on this “gem.” I would consider an on site inspection of this vehicle before proceeding much further.


    Like 1
  6. Ohio Rick

    Indy pacer was a Fireflite convertible with some Adventure-like additions.

    Like 3
  7. Poppy

    Refreshing to see such an honest, straightforward seller. He even refers readers to a similar car in better condition for sale for those looking for less of a project.

    Like 2
  8. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    The 1956 “DeSotomatic” horn button clock is one really rare accessory, it is different from the 1957 to 59 versions, and a 1-year only item. I hope that car is kept locked and the owner has a security camera system to watch the car.

    In 1970 I was in a local junkyard in Rockville, MD [Sav-Mor Auto Parts], pulling parts off a 1956 Packard Patrician, when a wrecked ’56 Adventurer came in on the hook. It had the same clock as well as the Hi-Way Hi-Fi. I bought the clock for $1 and the record player for $10. Also bought the entire intake manifold, dual carbs and air cleaner, but paid good money for those parts, I think I paid about $50 for the engine parts. Should have bought the whole car as the left front fender was the only serious damage and the car ran great, but I had no place to put it. They only wanted $100 for the entire car. Sold the parts a couple of months later at the Hershey AACA parts meet.

    Like 2
  9. Mountainwoodie

    Being outside Houston and stored outside I would think the humidity has done a number on the interior. Strange no mention of it. Maybe the seller figures the dealers Adventurer for sale in a nearby town is enough to attract someone who’d rather put the money into an Adventurer than pay for it upfront.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds