Hemi-Powered Project: 1955 DeSoto Firedome

If there was ever a car that sounded like it belongs in a James Bond movie it’s this 1955 DeSoto Firedome. What a great name and a great line of cars with an interesting history of moving up and down the trim-level scale over the years. This example is for sale as a Barn Finds classified and it can be found here. It’s located in Lake Worth, Florida and the seller is asking $6,999.

Oddly enough, this is the only photo that gives us any view of the passenger side at all and we never see the front end of the passenger side. I’m hoping that the seller could take any additional photos that a prospective buyer may need in order to make a decision on this one.

The second-generation DeSoto Firedome was made for the 1955 and 1956 model years and in total, they were made for the 1952 to 1959 model years in three generations. In this middle-generation, they were an entry-level trim, replacing the former Powermaster. The first-generation cars were a top-trim level and for the third-generation, made for the 1957-1959 model years, the Firedome was a middle-trim level as the new DeSoto Firesweep became their entry-level offering. Confusing, eh?

That grille, though! 1955 was the year that Chrysler’s Forward Look debuted and it was quite a change from previous designs. The Korean war was over and people were getting back to business, car companies were coming out with new designs and life was great, or at least good for most people. I’m not sure if there has ever really been a time when life has been great for everyone if you really think about it. As a reference, Hagerty is at $3,300 for a #4 fair condition car and $8,400 for a #3 good condition car.

Another new feature of the ’55s was the gear selector on the dash seen to the right of the steering wheel. It supposedly breaks away with 10-pounds of pressure so the “spearing” reports in an accident may be more urban legend than truth. There are no engine photos which is always disappointing, but the 1955s had the upgraded 291 cubic-inch Hemi which had 185 hp. This engine also isn’t in the car, unfortunately, but it’s reported to have been rebuilt and is waiting for the car to be restored to be reinstalled. Are there any DeSoto fans out there?

Have something to sell? List it here on Barn Finds!

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  1. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    The horizontal center bar in the grill was highly coveted for custom rods in the mid to late 50’s… and hard to find undamaged in any junkyard.

  2. Ben T Spanner

    My Father bought a 1 year old 1955 Desota Firedome 2 dr HT in January 1956. It was 2 tone green. The Firedome did not have the cool stalk mounted clock which went where the medallion is on the dash.
    Its stablemate was a 1951 Dodge Diplomat 2 dr ht, also green. The Dodge had the flathead six and Gyromatic transmission. Huge difference in performance.

  3. RGSmith1 Member

    Miss my 56 2dr ht. Push button trans and all!

  4. Vince H

    Takes me back to the days when they sponsored Groucho Marx. I think it is a bit overpriced for the condition.

  5. Vance

    My Father owned 3 Desotos, the last one being a 1953 with the hemi. He loved that car and said you could really open it up on the highway. That big toothy grill was a whole lot of chrome. They were a huge car that really filled the lane you were in. You mention Desoto to anyone under 60 and you get a blank look. I think of my Father everytime I see one.


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