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It’s A Hemi! 1953 DeSoto Firedome

The 1953 model year was a good one for DeSoto, which outsold its prior outing by nearly 35%. Much of that was finishing out pent-up demand after World War II and concerns that the Korean War might also limit automobile availability. This ’53 Firedome, one of only two series offered that year, looks to have been tucked away in a barn for many moons and has the dust and dirt to show for it. Located in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and being sold as part of an estate, the opening bid of $6,250 awaits a taker here on eBay. Our thanks to T.J. for another vintage tip!

Firedomes could be differentiated from Powermasters by a higher level of trim and a V8 engine (rather than an inline-6). The cars had revamped sheet metal for 1953 yet looked much the same as they did the year before. The Chrysler division was enjoying its 25the anniversary, yet no plans had been made to celebrate the occasion, like with a special edition. The cars gained one-piece, curved windshields for the first time, a Chrysler innovation that dated to the 1930s on the Airflow.

We don’t know much about the heritage of this nearly 70-year-old car other than it belonged to the father of a friend. The seller got involved to help settle Dad’s estate. The car appears to have been stationary for eons, so its mechanical health is unknown. Under the hood is DeSoto’s 276 cubic-inch “Hemi” V8 which should have produced 160 hp with a 2-barrel carburetor. It’s paired with a “3-on-the-tree” manual transmission although Fluid Torque Drive was optional.

DeSoto built 130,400 automobiles in 1953, of which 86,500 were the more upscale Firedome. The 4-door sedan, such as the one here, saw the production of 64,200 units. Given the sales performance that year, who would have predicted that the brand would be gone in another short eight years? This Firedome may have only 13,000 miles, but the odometer could have turned over. The body and interior look acceptable from inside the dark barn, but some rust appears to be on the lip of the trunk lid. The winning bidder will have to help pull the DeSoto out from its resting place.


  1. Heck Dodson Member

    OMG! Would it be great fun getting this one fired up and running again,and everything seems to be there. These early Hemis are still amazing to me. Great find

    Like 12
  2. Todd J. Member

    Are those Mercury wire wheel covers? Regardless, to whoever buys this car, don’t remove ’em!!

    Like 4
  3. GregM

    Groucho approves….

    Like 6
    • Rumpledoorskin

      It’s De-Lovely.

      Like 5
  4. Harry Allen

    Looks to have the spare part for the bruised left front door otherwise I see no reason that this vehicle should be over looked. I had a Chrysler of the same vintage I bought in 68 a nice running car and just fixed the cosmetics that the owner considered detrimental. I bought it for 50.00 and sold it for 400.00 after replacing left front fender and that tank bumper.

    Like 2
  5. gaspumpchas

    baby Hemi, whats not to love!!!

    Like 2
  6. Howard A Member

    #1288, the guy down the block from my parents, was George, and older than us, and a terrible influence on a young mind. In the late 60s, he bought a ’54 Chrysler in pristine condition, with a blown 6 cylinder, automatic. Fact is, he had to promise the sellers he would fix it. He agreed, and did he EVER fix it. He found a ’53 DeSoto, just like this, $50 bucks, I think, and put this motor in the Chrysler, and proceeded to kill the Chrysler. It did wicked burnouts, for a while until the trans puked.
    The 1st car I remember, was my old mans ’59 DeSoto. While he never liked Chryslers, but I’d bet he bought one on Grouchos advice. He was that well respected. Yeah, whatever happened to THAT? A credible TV personality. Sadly, the motor is the only attraction here. They were great cars, Groucho Marx said so. In this commercial, in case some never heard of him, was the absolute KING of the 1 liners, touted the all new “power steering”, probably the single most important feature. While many women could shift a manual, they couldn’t steer the dang thing. PS changed everything. The unrestrained kids in the ad was nothing to worry about, or so it seemed.

    Like 7
    • LMK Member

      Groucho Marx , what a guy…!!

      Like 2
  7. RNR

    My grandfather had one of these through the early 60’s, in metallic green, spotlight and all. One day he was tinkering under the hood and what did my nine year old model car building eyes spy ? A Hemi! I had a newfound respect for that old barge after that. The woodgrain on the dash was another fond memory…

    Like 3
  8. GlennR Member

    Back in the day, the words ” V eight, stick” set teenage boys hearts pounding.
    Then the words “four door” calmed them down (I’m talking late 50’s early 60’s.

  9. Phil Maniatty

    From the interior photo, I think this might be equipped with Fluid Torque transmission. There appears to be a gear selector on the steering column. Don’t let the presence of a clutch fool you. Until the introduction of Powerflite in 1954, all Chrysler products had a clutch pedal.

  10. James Sayre

    Awsome cars I had a 54 Firedome 4 dr with Powerflite automatic, bought it for $35 from dealer back lot, not running. It had bad valves, a valve job later had a nice ride. drove it for 3 years only thing had to do was a brake job. I probably would still have it if my brother hadn’t begged for a car. He was not very mechanical, blew radiator hose drove car about 40 miles then dumped cold water in engine. Just had a boat anchor then.

  11. Ranco Racing

    I was given a ’53 Firedome when I was 14. It was one of my first cars that I worked on in the backyard. Got it running, cleaned it up and sold it, which financed my first motorcycle. I have said many times I would like to have that one back. If only this was a 2 door.

  12. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    I would volunteer, free of charge to remove those aftermarket “fog lights”.

    Like 1
  13. Kelly MacGregor

    Is that a taxi-meter on the dashboard?

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