Low-Mileage Hemi: 1952 Desoto FireDome

I’ll admit- I’m a sucker for quirky stuff, like this 1952 Desoto sedan. My dad has a friend from work who is a car guy, typical car guy. He has probably 30 cars, most of which are 4 doors. In running condition, they are probably worth about $3,000 each, but he loves them for what they are. When I was maybe 12, he stopped by our house with his most recent find, a 1956 Desoto much like this one. It was a sedan with the original FireDome V8 and push-button automatic transmission. I vividly remember needing to push the car out of the driveway because he had not connected the linkage for reverse on the transmission! Thanks to reader ggt907 for this awesome Hemi!

I really like this car. It’s new enough to have the unique FireDome Hemi, but old enough to have a manual transmission and really classic post-war styling. The owner says that the car is 100-percent original, retaining its original engine, transmission, paint, and chrome trim. With what the owner claims to be 28,900 original miles, I am convinced that he may be right. Although the majority of the paint on the engine is gone, the patina that remains seems to concur with the low-mileage claim.

The interior presents well. The headliner seems to be in excellent condition, as do what look like the original grey cloth seat covers. From what I can tell, the tops of all four doors and the dash were all wood-grained at the factory. This neat addition still seems to present well. The exterior paint seems to be in good condition for being 63 years old, and the maroon color seems to match in patina across the whole vehicle. The steering wheel has what appears to be a nice factory horn ring and an aftermarket steering wheel wrap.

Honestly, I have my doubts about the original mileage claim. The liscence plate on the front bumper looks like someone bought it from a catalog and put it on after a comprehensive restoration. In all seriousness, for $7500, this car is a good purchase either way. You are getting what appears to be a solid, well-built, and well-loved sedan that any collector could clean and love.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    What a beast! 1st, I believe the dash and doors are painted, not wood. My Packard had that same wood type treatment, only darker. I think it’s pretty hard to replicate today. The interior sure looks original. This is much more what I remember older hemi’s looking like. Is that a power steering unit behind the generator? IDK, maybe it was stylish in the day, but I’d like to see the person, after looking at all the other cars of the day, who would say, “Mmm-hmm, let’s go with the DeSoto this year”.

    • David Montanbeau

      Wood painted dash and yes on the power steering.

    • Terry

      276 with 160 horsepower for the ’52?

    • Mark S

      Well Da Howard of course it’s wood grain painted on metal.

  2. 86 Vette Convertible

    Back in the mid 70’s I have a 55 Dodge PU that had a Desoto Firedome Hemi transplant in it. Even though it hadn’t run in years, doing some rewiring and dumping a little gas in the carb and it fired right off. That was quite the engine for it’s size. One unusual thing on it was it had lug bolts, not lug nuts. Plus one side loosened turning counter clockwise while the other loosened turning clockwise. I’m guessing this was the same.

    Enjoyed the photo and story.

    • Ed P

      Chrysler used used left and right hand threads on lug nuts up to the early 1970’s.

      • G 1

        Left & right lugs until 64

  3. CrazyGeorge CrazyGeorge

    HOWARD A ;
    In regards to your observation of the wood grain interior, yes it is some sort of factory application . I know it’s not a faux wood paint job but I do not know if it’s a wood grain decal . I had a 52 4 door sedan with a big 6 and a fluid drive. The DeSoto was one solid , well made vehicle , it was literally like riding on a cloud. I spotted this on Craigslist in Indy. I was pleased when it was posted. Thanks James K. You made my day. I hope someone buys this beautiful vehicle and preserves it for future generations ! I would take it but I have way too many projects on the honey -do list.
    Regards;
    CrazyGeorge AKA ggt907

  4. Francisco

    I don’t care what anyone says. That’s a nice dash. A nice car, too, for that matter.

  5. ELMER TURNER

    What a beautiful antique automobile especially in mostly origanal condition. Incidentaly, Those bullet grilles were used a lot for customized cars, especially 1949 to 1951 fords and mercurys. the back end reminds me of a 1954 chevy.

  6. Woodie Man

    For its originality alone it would be worth having imho. The faux wood graining I think is directly on the metal. IThe bumpers losing their chrome and having that dull pot metal look reminds me of so many post war cars from Packards to Dodges I played with over the decades.

    While its kind of ungainly and looking at it reminds me of my grandmother with that Mamie Eisenhower hairdo, its in great shape/

    Lots of cars in that collection

    https://classiccarbrokeringservices.shutterfly.com/4836

  7. Chris in WNC

    the cheesy front license plate does not necessarily mean it is not an original car….

  8. bcavileer

    The wood graining is painted over a primed metal dash. The grain patterns are engraved on aluminum plates, “inked” and then transfered by a roller to the dash. You then clear coat the finish when dry. The process is time consuming but looks spectacular when done. The kits and paints are available for most cars.

  9. LIL ABNER

    It’s a dandy/

  10. Paul R

    Hood is from a 51 model. The 52 has a functional scoop instead of the Desoto bust like this.

    • Fred

      I learned to drive in a 52&56 .Both were fire domes,and both had hemi’s.My 52 had a semi auto trans called fluid drive.it had a clutch pedal but was only used to put the car in gear. you could stop at a light without stepping on the pedal. You are right about the hood. I believe the scoop was used on the hemi,but not on the 6 cyl models.My father owned a large construction co all over NY NJ &CT and drove over 60 K a yr. The car had well over 200K,and was still running when he junked it.

  11. Howard A Member

    Make a great Cuban taxi.

  12. LIL ABNER

    Paul, I have been working on these old type vehicles for 60 years and I never noticed the hood on this vehicle. Good post. I always worked on GM vehicles but still I should have noticed this. Rest of you guys that saw it, good post.

  13. Randy W

    OK, how would you buy this car? ebay, craigs list, were is it. I think sometimes you get caught up in your monolog and not pay attn. to what your saying or doing.

  14. Teri gibson

    I’m thinking 1953 was first year for hemi fire dome tho I may be wrong

    • Ed P

      The Desoto hemi appeared in 1952.

      Like 1
  15. Allen Member

    EVERY Chrysler-built car – from the mid ’30s until at least 1953 had a wood-grain finished metal dashboard. MY ’37 Plymouth, my cousin’s ’37 Dodge, my dad’s 39 Dodge, my uncle’s ’42, ’47, and ’50 DeSotos. Another uncle’s ’42, ’49, and ’52 Plymouths. My own ’53 Plymouth. Sometime around 1951, these took on gray tones – but still wood-grain. 1955 cars were the first to totally desert the woodgrain look. And BTW, anyone who would liken a 1952 DeSoto to a ’56 model is unqualified to comment on these cars. ‘ Love ’em both, but there is nothing about nostalgia for a ’56 model that would engender nostalgia for a ’52 model. There were two MAJOR body-shell redesigns in between, plus a significant modification between ’55 and ’56. I’m no scholar about these cars, but I loved them all during my teen-age years. I know what I saw with each year, and I don’t care to hear “authoritative” comments from people who obviously don’t know these cars.

    • Yellowjax Member

      I love this site…. but to compare a 52 to a 56 seemed strange to me too and i am by far no expert.

      • Ed P

        :You are correct, the 55-56 Desoto’s have good contemporary styling. The 49-54 styling is tall and stubby compared to the competition’s cars. It is hard to mistake the difference.

  16. Allen Member

    EVERY Chrysler-built car – from the mid ’30s until at least 1953 had a wood-grain finished metal dashboard. My ’37 Plymouth, my cousin’s ’37 Dodge, my dad’s ’36 and ’37 DeSotos, his ’39 Dodge, my uncle’s ’42, ’47, and ’50 DeSotos. Another uncle’s ’42, ’49, and ’52 Plymouths. My ’53 Plymouth. Sometime around 1951, these took on gray tones – but still wood-grain. 1955 cars were the first to totally desert the woodgrain look. And BTW, anyone who would liken a 1952 DeSoto to a ’56 model is unqualified to comment on these cars. ‘ Love ’em both, but there is nothing about nostalgia for a ’56 model that would engender nostalgia for a ’52 model. There were two MAJOR body-shell redesigns in between, plus a significant modification between ’55 and ’56. I’m no scholar about these cars, but I loved them all during my teen-age years. I know what I saw with each year, and I don’t care to hear “authoritative” comments from people who obviously don’t know these cars.

  17. John

    53 was the first year for the Hemi. I used to stand on the front floor and put my arms on the dash and watch the road ahead of us while my Dad drove from Quincy to Joliet. You could line up oncoming cars using the hood ornament as a gunsight. I used to shoot down every Studebaker we passed. I was five. These were great cars. They leaked.

    • Ed P

      The hemi v8’s appeared: Chrysler 1951, Desoto 1952, Dodge 1953.

      Like 1
      • John

        I stand corrected. Thank you Ed. My Dad’s was a 53. My uncle had a Chrysler New Yorker at the same time. It had a rear seat arm rest. I coveted that little seat. The Desoto didn’t have one. My uncle never missed a chance to tell my Dad that his car was incomplete.

  18. Allen Member

    Yup, that’s why you can hardly find a pre-’60 Mopar with intact floors. Indeed, they all did leak. Well built in all other regards, but they did leak.

  19. John

    Expensive grille for a leadsled Merc!
    In great condition tho

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