Ram Induction 440 V8: 1959 DeSoto Firesweep

The DeSoto was an automobile marque of Chrysler Corp. between 1928-61. It was usually positioned between the Dodge and Chrysler on the corporate totem pole. By the late 1950s, sales had declined and the future of DeSoto was in jeopardy. The 1959 models would be the last for body-on-frame construction, which included the DeSoto Firesweep, the “entry-level” model. At first glance, this car looks mostly stock, but the engine, carburetion, and transmission set-ups are all from later model Mopars. That includes Chrysler’s complex-looking Ram Induction. Located in Cypress, Texas, this DeSoto is quite presentable and may only need some TLC. It’s available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $10,095.

1958 was a recession year for the auto industry, so the low-selling (by Chrysler standards) DeSoto models were little changed for 1959. They still wore all the styling cues from Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look” styling of 1957 that set the industry on its ear. The Firesweep was DeSoto’s standard offering, with the Firedome, Fireflite, and Adventurer rounding out the lineup based on trim and creature comforts. By the time the seller’s car was built, DeSoto’s fate was perhaps already sealed. There no longer seemed to be a need for a fourth Chrysler division, so shortly after the 1961 models went on sale, the DeSoto was discontinued.

When this Firesweep left the factory, it likely had a high-compression 361 cubic-inch V8 that produced 295 hp with a 2-barrel carburetor. The automatic transmission, probably a 2-speed Powerflite, should have been push-button operated. Today, there is a 440 under the hood (1966 is the first year it would be offered) and the automatic is now floor-shifted, perhaps a 3-speed TorqueFlite. But most interesting here is its ram induction crossover manifold for fuel intake using two separate carburetor housings. That was a Chrysler offering in 1960-61.

We’re told this DeSoto runs and drives but needs some tweaking as the seller’s mechanic isn’t familiar with what it takes to set up the ram induction hardware properly. The brakes and wheel cylinders are new as well as the alternator (wouldn’t that have originally been a generator in 1959?), and the DeSoto is wearing 1970s-era Rallye wheels, which look nice on this car. The body and paint look great with just a few little dings and the interior presents well, although the headliner will need replacing.

This Firesweep would have been one of 5,481 hardtops with two doors built in 1959. Overall DeSoto production had declined to 45,724 and would drop again in 1960. This overall car is said to have seen just 60,000 miles and it would be interesting to know how this DeSoto ended up with its newer drivetrain. But with a little TLC, this would be a great car to show off from an era when cars wore opulent styling and looked different from one another.


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  1. Jake8687 Member

    Worse comes to worse pull the motor and drop in a crate hemi. That is one nice looking car.

    Like 8
  2. Dave

    The cross ram induction system was not the choice for a car driven on public roads at various speeds due to the physics involved. Better to save it for a museum and run EFI or a streetable manifold and carburetor.

    Like 10
  3. Melton Mooney

    Do brake, steering, wheel/tire, and audio upgrades, drop in a couple of poofy sheepskin covered bucket seats, and you’re the king of the road.

    Like 2

    I don’t think that shifter is stock.

    Like 1
  5. Joe Haska

    Another car I never even thought about and now I want it!

    Like 4
  6. Bob McK Member

    I would love to own one of these. However, I would want it to be a more exciting color combination. Sure would be pretty in my garage.

    Like 3
  7. Jean Delmond

    Chrysler was the first american automaker to have alternator in the fifties

    Like 3
  8. scottymac
  9. Jean Delmond

    Thanks for the correction scottymac!

    Like 2
  10. Johnny C.

    As un-common as this car is, it should go to someone who can actually work on & tune a car that’s not “modern”. a.k.a. a real mechanic. Replacing the engine and the other lame changes suggested here, to dumb it down so any schmo can drive it, would be a real shame. This is an old car folks. It runs, drives and behaves like an old car and needs to be appreciated as such. If you want a car that runs & drives like a Lexus… buy a Lexus. Leave cars like this one to those who know what they’re doing.

    Like 18
    • David

      AMEN….From a” REAL MECHANIC”

      Like 9
    • Mountainwoodie

      Yeah, couldn’t agree more. I wish the seller had listed some history on the car. It would be interesting to know who crammed this beast into the car and why. It’s very cool. Though I dont like the slushbox….anyone know whats it from? Looks like a Valiant shifter box. Around 2000 I was in Cuba and saw a few 57-58 De Sotos in Havana. They really are beautiful cars

  11. nelson W rayder

    1960 was the first year for Chrysler alternators.

    Like 2
    • tiger66

      Only on the Valiant. The rest got alternators starting with the ’61s.

      Like 4
  12. bog

    My Aunt and Uncle had a nice tan DeSoto of about this vintage. Only got to ride in it a couple times. I’m sure it had a V8, but unsure of which one. The one offered here seems pretty neat, especially for those loving MOPARs. Chrysler corp sure did some interesting intake manifolds back then !

    Like 1
  13. benjy58

    The long ram manifolds were a Chrysler 300 option.

    • Curtis

      Also optional on 1960-61 Dodges, Plymouths and DeSotos, with 361 and 383 B motors.

  14. Ron

    Roadkill Garage needs this car…

  15. Clay Bryant

    The Nebraska State Highway Patrol ran both short ram and long ram dodges in 60 and 61. I know where two are stashed. We had a real gearhead for a procuring agent. The Dodges took the place of 58 and 59 Chevys with 348 tri-powers. Can”t speak for the Chevys but the Dodges ran like stink…..

    Like 1
  16. Clay Bryant

    I was in Don Garlit’s museum years ago and couldn’t believe all the stuff he had on display but not one of these.

  17. Joe Machado

    My son has 3 Correct Ram Induction 1960 Polaras. 2 Convertibles and a 9 passenger wagon.
    It’s easy for him to tune and drive these real cars.
    As mentioned earlier, if you can’t handle these, go get a look a like new car and stay home.
    Your i fone game is waiting for you

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