Reasonably Priced: 1950 DeSoto Custom

Post-war DeSotos marked the height for yearly sales for the brand. Over 133,000 were sold in 1950 and they never sold that many again. Even though they shared many parts with their badge-engineered cousins, Desoto doesn’t get much respect in the class car market. But that can keep values low and cars available to collectors. The owner of this DeSoto Custom is asking a reasonable $2,295 here on craigslist and the car can be found in Cincinnati, Ohio.

There are only two pictures of this car but from what we can see it looks pretty good. The paint has some shine, the glass is good and the chrome is good. This car was stored in a garage but we don’t know for how long. We also know that the engine is stuck but the owner is trying to soak it to free it up. This car is a hard top, four door (not pillar less or a convertible) which offers great utility and keeps the price low.

Image Courtesy of Pinterest

This Desoto has the 6-cylinder L-head engine and the Fluid Drive transmission. It’s not going to roast the tires but it should be reliable once the engine is freed up. It is exciting to see an unmolested car for a reasonable price! Unfortunately you won’t be able to drive this DeSoto before you decide, but for this price it is worth the risk!


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  1. Joe Gotts

    They even love 1950 Desoto’s in Cuba!

  2. Mark S. Member

    I love these old early 50’s Mopars. they were admittedly frompy fat fendered cars that look like they weigh 10 tons, but it might surprise you that there not as heavy as they look even with that cast iron lump up front. I did a weight comparison between my 51 dodge 2 door hard top and 2001 dodge caravan also a 6 cylinder. What I found was a surprise to me my 51 is about 500lbs less than the caravan. I did this because I was looking for a modern brake system that I can retro fit into the 51 hard top. I think I found my donor, as it happens dodge has not changed its wheel bolt pattern / dimensions since 1938. I have recently acquired a donor van and will post again if I can make this work. As for this car there are a few different ways that these engines can be freed up. The soaking idea is a good start, I’d second that with pulling the head setting up a heavy cross bar on two of the running mates and put wooden blocks on top of the pistons using the head bolts like a press you typically tighten down on the wood blocks a bit at a time while keeping the cylinders lubarcated. The engine my free right away or it might take weeks. If that isn’t working then the crank has to be pulled and each piston pushed out individually. Nice find I hope the new owner takes their time freeing up this engine. It can be done without damage.

    • John D

      Do a search online for disc brake conversions. There is a fellow in Fla making these for eh. I looked up his email address,

    • Dan

      Great idea on freeing up the engine!

  3. David C

    At this last weekend’s car/swap meet there was a 1951 Desoto 2 door coupe, Hemi, with a resent repaint, original interior, running-driving, no issues. $10,500.00. It was beautiful and very tempting.

    • duaney Member

      Minor correction, 1952 was the first year for the hemi. Not available in 1951

  4. Royal Ricci

    I have a 51 DeSoto Custom Limo. I bought one of these simply because I needed the head for the motor I had rebuilt in mine as it was cracked. This one was cracked as well. I let my friend haul it away. This was in 1992-1993. Now there is one For Sale in Hyde Park in the most pretty shade of Royal Blue and I believe it was listed for sale on Hudson Valley Craigslist, but not there now. You may be able to see it if you are headed up Route 9G out of Poughkeepsie to Hyde Park.

  5. Fred w.

    I’m not even a four door hater, but I’ve always considered these and the other Mopar cousins easily the frumpiest, most “grandpa” looking cars ever. 2 door and convertible versions not so much.

  6. Ben T. Spanner

    Mark S referred to a 1951 Dodge 2 door hardtop. We had one in 1955. A Dodge Diplomat pillarless Hardtop.. It had Gyromatic.

    This Desoto may have Gyromatic as ad states automatic transmission. Fluid Drive wasn’t auto. Easy to confuse without driving as both have a clutch pedal. I don’t recall a shift quadrant or indicator with Gyromatic.

    • Jim Kirkland

      I believe the “semi-auto” in this
      car, probably Gyromatic, actually
      has 4 speeds. With 2 speeds in High
      Range and 2 in Low Range. Most
      driving was done in High Range.
      Decades ago, somebody at
      Road & Track wrote a humorous
      article about trying to drive one
      of these Mopar semi-autos as a
      4-speed. Lots of clunking, lol.

  7. On and On On and On Member

    Is it a 1950 or a 51?

  8. George Soffa

    My parents brought me home from the hospital in their fairly new 1950 DeSoto coupe with deep green paint! My Dad was a mechanic for the local Chrysler / DeSoto dealer , so got a deal I’m sure! My earliest memories are of going down to the shop at night to work on a 1952 Chrysler Imperial that was wrecked when new, so as soon as it was finished, the DeSoto moved on!

  9. GO-PAR

    There’s been several mentions of the Mopar body styles (Dodge, Plymouth, Desoto, etc.) of the the early 50’s being pretty frumpy. And yes, they were certainly that! But it’s been my experience that these old cars ran very well against what was available at the time. What they lacked in style, the made up for in power, torque, and reliability. My stock 50 Plymouth Special Deluxe polished off its share of 6-cyl. Chevys, 272 V8 Fords, The later model Corvair Spyders and the like, drag racing the back roads of Alabama and even on the Atlanta Highway in Montgomery.

  10. DweezilAZ

    A four door sedan. Not a hardtop anything, Aaron, but a neat car and thanks for featuring it. And it not only features practicality but a more solid and rattle free drive.

    If it had no B pillars, it would be a hardtop 4 door. Those would not be available in a Chrysler brand for a few years yet.

  11. Peter Atherton

    My parents had a 1950 DeSoto convertible, brand new in 1950;that car was slow as molasses, but was fairly pleasant at highway speeds.With Fluid Drive,it was great in snow.I loved the “black light”instrument panel lights.My dad traded it in on a new 1961 Jaguar 3.8 sedan,4 speed, sunroof,chrome wire wheels…That was a real car!!

  12. Jim Kirkland

    Another slight advantage of these
    Desotos is the fact that the 236
    Flathead has a shorter stroke (4.25
    inches) than other Mopar sixes of
    the period. Gives a somewhat more
    relaxed highway-cruise. Less friction.

  13. RicK

    Back in ’04 I bought a ’67 Mustang off a storage lot along with a ’52 DeSoto DeLuxe 4 door (I wanted the Mustang, only way the owner would sell was if I bought her DeSoto with it also). Anyhow, flipped the Mustang easily and made out pretty good, tried the same with the DeSoto but nobody wanted it. Was very clean, nice older repaint in its original black, zero rust, good chrome, stainless and glass, presentable orig interior, would almost call it survivor grade, even had its original (from ’63) black Cali plates, only problem was, the flathead 6 was partially disassembled so it didn’t run, had been like that for at least 10 years (last year it was tabbed was early 90s) so the brakes needed redone as well. Anyhow, I wasn’t interested in the car at all, but no matter how hard I tried to sell it, I got absolutely no action on it. Back then decent similar vintage 4 door DeSoto drivers only went for about $2500 max, $5K if really nice. Anyhow, after 2 years of trying, I finally got somebody to take it for $600. I suspect that the price on today’s feature car is way on the high side, noticed that its still avail on c/l, IMHO seller should cut at least $1000 or more off the price if he wants to move it.

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