Out of Deep Storage: 1948 DeSoto


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All too often we see cars pulled out of storage that have suffered from neglect and poor storage conditions. So I was very surprised when I saw the overall good condition of this 1948 DeSoto advertised for sale here on craigslist in Clinton, Connecticut.


You have to go mostly by the pictures, as there’s not much description in this ad. The car has the the standard six-cylinder engine with a three-speed transmission on the column. While this engine does not have much power, and the DeSoto is a fairly heavy car, having driven similar Mopar cars of this period, I really prefer the way the standard tranny drives compared to the sluggish fluid drive alternative.


The seller says this DeSoto is “pristine,” which seems to me a bit of a stretch. The interior needs a deep cleaning for sure. The body is claimed to be rot-free and really does look remarkably solid in the photos provided, though there are no photos and no mention of the floors, trunk, or inner fenders.


What is not mentioned is the condition of any of the mechanicals. It’s impossible to know their condition without a close inspection, of course. Hopefully, the engine runs, but so much depends on how well it was taken care of before and during storage. Coming out of storage, it does seem likely there will be some work needed. Gas tank and fuel system? Brakes? Has the exhaust system rusted through?


These post-war Chrysler Corporation cars were very solidly engineered and built, inside and out. They will keep up with modern traffic as long as driver expectations are modest. 1948 was a big year for DeSoto with over 100,000 cars manufactured, but you won’t see yourself coming and going in this car anymore. And at least for me, that waterfall style grille is very attractive compared to Dodge and Plymouths of the same year.


With a $4,800 asking price, if this barn find is actually a runner, the price is reasonable. I was surprised to find that the values of these cars seem to have increased substantially in the past few years, with even average condition cars valued at $9,750.


I love that steering wheel! You have to wonder why the seller has not spent a bit of time cleaning up the interior (mildew – yech) – wouldn’t that make it easier to sell? Still, it would be interesting to see this car close up and since I live only about 35 miles away, I am tempted to go have a look. In a way, I am afraid to go see it – if I liked it too much I would just be frustrated since I have no place to store another car. I hope someone else here might take the plunge. This is just a nice old car and potentially an economical to operate, roomy family cruiser.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. DENIS

    I really like the old girl just because it appears that it wouldn’t take much to make it driveable….not very valuable but a neat old ride for not a lotta dough and simple to fix….

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  2. HoA Howard AMember

    Howard Cunningham drove a DeSoto like this on Happy Days. Just the frumpiest looking cars, which is why, I’m sure, the producers of the show chose it. Looks like a great car to start with. Again, it’s the same thing, why redo the motor and slush box, just to have 1948 performance again. Plenty of room for just about any motor, I’m thinking a slant 6. The vinyl glove over the intake is classic. What’s to protect? It’s probably already stuck. What a cool find. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-zw3Nn7E5blQ/Uk0DQ2gNowI/AAAAAAACrbQ/Dz6WodgYAq4/s1600/desoto+2.JPG

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    • mike conrad

      The happy days Desoto still exists, it at the Lemay family collection in Spanaway Wa. It is still in Excellent original condition.

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    • puhnto

      The Happy Days DeSoto was the longer wheel base, “Suburban” model. The same length as the old Sunshine taxi cabs of the late forties. (Long enough to have limousine style “jump seats”)

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  3. Chris in WNC

    those sixes can be tweaked to perform very respectably…..

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  4. Jim OMember

    I’ve stopped by to look at the car as it’s in the next town down from me. The car is very solid! It’s not stuck but it’s not running! He says it’s been sitting for a couple of years but i think its been a little longer. There is the telltale smell of varnished bad gas in the tank.There is no rust through anywhere that I find which is great. The paint is an older repaint that’s OK and with a little elbow grease it would look OK.The interior is original with some staining on the headliner and there have been critters living under the back seat.

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  5. Blueprint

    Someone beat me here with the Happy Days connection!

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  6. Joeinthousandoaks

    Happy Days car was a Suburban though.

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  7. Nova Scotian

    That steering wheel has impaled more drivers, and the windscreen decapitated more passengers than we will ever know. Safety in cars of this era was not on the minds of most engineers of the day.

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  8. Ed P

    I find old Desoto’s of this era very interesting. The flat head six was a smaller version of the six used in Chrysler’s of this time. Exciting performance was not a factory option on these cars, but durability was. The lack of rust is interesting when compared to the 57 and later Chrysler vehicles.

    Like 0

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