Low-Mileage Hemi! 1954 DeSoto Firedome

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The Firedome was a car manufactured by the DeSoto division of Chrysler, with production beginning in 1952 and running through 1959.  One of the good things about the current marketplace for buyers is that many of these cars have remained somewhat affordable, with this largely original 1954 model here on Craigslist priced at $12,500.  This one’s also an inexpensive way to tell your friends you’ve got a Hemi, although it’s smaller than the later sixties elephant many of us have come to know and love.  The car is located in New Middletown, Ohio, and we’d like to thank Barn Finds reader Pat L. for spotting this DeSoto and sending it our way!

Chrysler kept upping the sizes of their Hemis as the years went on, with buyers of the 1954 Firedome getting a 276 cubic-inch motor, which was the smallest one DeSoto ever offered.  The seller mentions he’s selling the car for a neighbor, and sadly, it sounds like the owner is either incapacitated or deceased, but thankfully while still healthy he rebuilt the original engine.  The seller also says that he’s driven the car himself and claims that it truly runs and drives excellently, with lots of service records included in the sale too.

It’s unusual to find a nearly 70-year-old vehicle that’s only been driven 26,170 miles, but this is said to be actual, with the paint thought to be the original factory finish.  The seller says it’s got a nice patina, but I almost feel that’s an understatement, as this car looks not much short of amazing to my eyes if it’s indeed never had a respray or any metal work.  The body appears straight and I’m not spotting any obvious areas of rust, plus the trim looks pretty good as well and appears to be all there.  I’m always a fan of finding service-station stickers inside the doors dating back decades, such as when Exxon was still Esso.

Other than a crack and a couple of weak-looking spots in the steering wheel, the dashboard area seems to be well-preserved, with what I’m guessing is the factory radio still in place.  Most components inside are in the condition I’d expect a car with this kind of claimed low mileage to look like, and considering it has been around almost 7 decades I’m just not seeing much overall to find much fault with anywhere on this 1954 DeSoto Firedome.  Is $12.5k as reasonable as I’m thinking for what you’re seeing here?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. HoA Howard AMember

    It’s ” De-Lovely”,,,

    Like 10
    • Driveinstile DriveinstileMember

      Its Dynamic!!!

      Like 5
  2. Will Fox

    A sweet DeSoto and a great car for someone perhaps entering the hobby. You can’t beat how original it is, and obvious recipient of TLC over the decades. And I can’t argue the price for what you get. About the only change I would make would be for a set of radial cokers in the proper whitewall width for `54, and maybe paint the roof a dark blue for contrast. Other than that, just ENJOY!

    Like 10
  3. rudy nine

    I often wonder how the tri – 5 chevs are so popular. Other brands are so much more interesting.

    Like 23
  4. Maggy

    Heck yeah it’s worth it.Really awesome car that has been taken care of from what I can see. I always wanted a de Soto hemi car.Did’t Richies dad in Happy Days drive one? I could be wrong.Glwts.It’ll go fast

    Like 9
    • geezerglide 85

      I think Howard drove an earlier model long wheelbase De Soto ’46-’48. My guess it had the six with fluid drive.

      Like 5
    • al

      yes he did

      Like 2
  5. Vance

    My Father bought one new in 1954 and it was his 2nd favorite car he ever owned. His had the Hemi, and even though this is a very heavy car, he said it could scoot. It was a tu-toned blue, he would wax nostalgic about how it would move. Unfortunately, when he went to pick it up new, the dealership hadn’t filled the coolant system to the proper level and it overheated on the way home.They blamed him and he was mad as hell. My Father told them he woul never buy a Mopar again and he stuck to his word. He still loved the car but went back to Ford. His favorite car was a 1969 Mercury Marquis Brougham with a 429 4 barrel, I remember that one it and was fast as hell. Good memories and a great Father.

    Like 10
  6. Shuttle Guy Shuttle GuyMember

    Very nice. Hell, the engines probably worth $12K.

    Like 6
  7. Hammer

    Some time down the road the younger lads out there may just take interest in these old unique cars. No technology and still very unique . Beautiful car!

    Like 9
    • maggy

      I think you have a better chance of winning the powerball consecutively then that happening.

      Like 5
    • RallyeMember

      At the last cruise night/show last year at Jumbo’s in West Bend , WI there were 2 20ish lads that had just acquired a 51-52 Plymouth or Dodge.
      It was a decent driver with the flathead 6 all original. Maybe they’ll spread the word to their peers.

      Like 5
  8. Eric_13cars Eric_13carsMember

    Interesting how the Desoto and Chrysler were almost identical cars, other than some trim. Plymouth and Dodge was also almost identical, but different from the 2 upper level models. In those days, all of the manufacturers had essentially the same bodies on their different associated models. Our 54 Chrysler Windsor had the Spitfire flathead engine, but when it was new, the 2 speed automatic had plenty of pop on acceleration. I wished we had the New Yorker with the hemi, but the Windsor was plenty plush and could cruise all day at over 70.

    Like 3
    • Vance

      Not to blab on, but my Father told me that Desoto was sold to to customers that couldn’t afford a Chrysler. Many new options were started on the Desoto, and if popular they were them put into Chysler. Desoto was a good brand but too much competition from The rest of Mopar. The fifties we’re so tough on brands that didn’t have the capital to have lean times. They couldn’t afford the research and development that was required. A lot of brands had no choice but to close there doors.

      Like 2
  9. normadesmond

    Mom’s very first car was a used 2-door (which made for a better looking profile). For her & us kids it meant, finally, some freedom! The car was never good to her & since there was no money to fix it, the front end shook & she had to start it holding a screwdriver somewhere under the hood while I manned the key & ignition.

    Oh how I wish I could get this.

    Like 1
  10. Henry DavisMember

    I’ve got a 54 DeSoto Coronado waiting for me to restore. Got tranny (Powerflite) rebuilt and then got side tracked. Hemi engine turns over, no rust thru, good chrome and glass, horrible everything else. Paint scheme (Blue and White) reversed from the brochure. Will make a neat car if I can live long enough to finish it!

    Like 6
  11. Kenneth Carney

    Keep plugging away Henry, you’ll get
    there. I’d like to see some pics of your car sometime. Didn’t know they
    made Coronado’s in ’54 so I’ve learned something new today. I recall
    seeing a lot of these on used car lots
    in the early ’60s after DeSoto closed its doors. More st of the cars I saw
    were sixes mated to 3-speed trannies. Not very exciting to a young
    motorhead but they were solid, reliable cars for the most part. Dad
    bought a ’57 2-door hardtop for Mom
    in ’63 for the terrific sum of $75 due to the fact they quit making them and
    the dealer didn’t want an orphan car
    on his lot. All that fear over not being
    able to find parts was overrated. All
    you had to do was order parts for a same year Chrysler and call it a day.
    At least that’s how we kept Mom’s
    Firedome running. Still remember that car and those tall tailfins too.

    Like 8
    • Henry DavisMember

      Desoto came up with a car every year for the New York Auto Show. Nothing all that fancy, just unique paint color combination, a little snazzier upholstery, and a medallion behind the rear doors. Plus “Coronado” script on the sides. Was a half year model. Prolly not worth much more than a standard 4 door with hemi and powerflite. I bought it from a guy in Kansas about 15 yrs ago and just feel guilty every time I look at it! Mustang is done, Packard is done. Nova goes to paint shop tomorrow, Stude is next, then DeSoto, then Kaiser.
      If Boss would fire me I’d have time to work on it, but not the money. As long as I keep working I’ve got the money, but not the time! Woe is me!

      Like 10
  12. CarbobMember

    Nice car and priced well for what you are getting. I had a 1955 Coronado. Loved it. I’m having a banner day on Barn Finds! I could go broke snapping up the ‘51 Chevy, ‘54 Mercury and now this. I’m just going to have to show restraint. LOL.

    Like 2
  13. tiger66

    “Friends, go in to see your DeSoto-Plymouth dealer tomorrow. And when you do, tell him Groucho sent you.”

    Like 7
    • HoA Howard AMember

      That’s true. TV was in its infancy, and not the greedy, zombie disemboweling institution it’s become today. TV used celebrities that people actually trusted. If Groucho Marx said buy a DeSoto, then by golly, it was a sure bet. Honesty sold cars, not info screens. As trite as it sounds, power steering was the feature he touted in 1952, a game changer in sales, and apparently, I DO belong to a club that would have me as a member,,,

      Like 0
  14. HoA Howard AMember

    This must be said,,as a young teen, there was a guy down the block, his name was George, a bit older, and responsible for probably 90% of the shenanigans I got into. Kind of the “Eddie Haskell” of the block. He had a ’54 Chrysler with a bad 6 cylinder,( bought from an old lady, $100, aside from the motor, the car was perfect. He had to promise the lady he’d take care of it. He took care of it, alright) he then bought a DeSoto like this,$50, just for the motor. $150 TOTAL! We were just punk kids, and engine swaps of this nature, took all the friends. We had visions of this Chrysler with a “hemi” keeping up with the “rail jobs”,,but the motor was a gutless oily slug and didn’t last long. We all learned a lot from George, good and bad.

    Like 5
  15. Joseph Santoyo

    lost my virginity in one. Good cars

    Like 1
    • HoA Howard AMember

      Did “Mrs. Santoyo” as well?

      Like 0
  16. Ray Lambie

    I own a 1954 Firedome with Powerflite that has just 33461 original miles on it. It sat in storage from 1974{when the original passed} until 2016 when I acquired it from his grandson. The car runs and drives as it would of back when new. I also own a 1949 Desoto Custom Club Coupe.

    Like 0
    • normadesmond

      Ray, If you happen to be near the Twin Cities,
      I would pay you to let me have a ride in your car.

      Like 0
  17. Bruce

    Surprised it is not sold yet

    Like 0

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