Rust Free: 1947 Desoto Deluxe

Rich in patina, and relatively solid, this Desoto was tucked away into a barn in 1959 due to an issue with cylinder 3 within the engine. The seller has stated that this Desoto is “Rust free” but it is obvious that is not the case. Rot on the other hand is not apparent, making for a considerably straight body with plenty of surface rust. Looking to be a great canvas for either a restoration, or a patina-rod, this Desoto is offered up at $2,250. Find it here on craigslist out of Topeka, Kansas. Thanks Pat L for the Rust Free submission!

This Desoto was originally powered by a Chrysler L-head 237 cubic inch inline 6 with a Fluid Drive automatic transmission. Since the engine has suffered damage to cylinder 3, and sat for 57 years, this Desoto is going to need a new heart. There are plenty of options, whether you wanted to keep this Desoto pure, or if you wanted to go astray to a more modern engine with more parts availability. The tried and true Chevy SBC could be suitable option for this Desoto, but there are loads of options out there.

Inside of this Desoto is rough, and cringe worthy. The seat has obviously been visited by some rodents, and is in need of repair.  The back seat isn’t nearly as bad off as the front, but if you are going to do one, you may as well do both. All of the door panels are present, though they are rough as well with the material rolling off and cracking. Fortunately, it would appear that all of the door panel hardware is present. Rebuild and reupholster the seats, then recover the door panels, and you will be left with manageable and inviting interior. The steering wheel suffers from some cracking, but the dash overall seems fair.

The bulbous rusty lines are still quite appealing on this Desoto. Although generously covered with surface rust, there appears to be no rot present on this Desoto. Most of the glass is in fair to good condition, minus the driver and passenger side windows which are cracked. The bumpers are in fairly good shape with only minor rust, and maybe even a small amount of chrome rolling off in some places. The passenger side door trim is missing and the trim over the rear driver side fender has some minor denting. The trim on the rear passenger fender needs to be replaced, as there was a slight mishap pulling this Desoto out of the barn it was in. That passenger rear fender suffered from some denting, but it appears to be relatively minor. The seller recommends taking the fender off and massaging the dents out. Solid, with an appealing look to those who appreciate extreme patina, this Desoto would make for a great project with its reasonable buy in price. Would you take on this Desoto project?


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  1. JW454

    That is one imposing grill. I’d first try to source a stock type engine. If that proved to be too much of a task, my second option would be a MOPAR 360 cu. in. with a 727/904 Torqueflight.

    • mike

      Ford Coyote engine would be better

  2. Chuck Cobb

    1st option is Mopar drivetrain. New Hemi/auto would be nice too. Mopars don’t use Chevy engines!!! If bucks up find a Hellcat drivetrain.

  3. Ed P

    I think I would want an antibiotic to deal with the interior. Desoto Chrysler and heavy Dodge trucks used the long block 6. I would think one could be found.

  4. Eric 10Cars

    Title is missing and it’s down to $1975, the ad having been up for 12 days. Suspect $1200 cash might do the job. It’s not a very collectible car, so restoring to original would not be my choice. You’d never recoup the investment. Clean out a junk yard for a drive train. I’m not sure what modern front end would bolt on, but you can’t spend too much on this one. Just make it a reasonable driver. That would be cool enough.

  5. Lee Hartman

    I’m thinking a 5.8 litre Mopar with the automatic overdrive. I’d love to have this if I had the room.

  6. mike

    put a 1953 mopar with fluid clutch in that varmit

  7. geomechs geomechs Member

    There’s a guy in our club, spent 6 years restoring a DeSoto Club coupe. He started out with something very similar to this. He found out that it had been in a major wreck and was hit on the right side. Ended up replacing the frame and then pulling the right side of the body apart to weld in patch panels and get both sides of the car the same length. He ended up using a 251 motor out of a later Chrysler and it couldn’t have run better. He kept up with modern traffic just fine. Put close to 50K miles on it since the restoration. Never ran better….

  8. Mike W H

    By “Rust Free” did he mean the rust comes free with the car?

    Like 1
  9. Bill McCoskey

    This car has only 2 major things in it’s favor; Rot free body and it’s a club coupe. However needing an engine, paint, upholstery, chrome, wiring, and much more, it’s not worth the asking price. While I do support keeping vehicles original when possible, in this case it might just be better off rodded.

  10. Gary Merly

    Viper V10!!

  11. Dovi65

    Coulda been Mrs. C’s car from Happy Days .. Howard drove a big DeSoto ‘burban, so maybe he bought Marian a DeSoto coupe??

  12. Robert

    No the author is mistaken.
    the “rust free ” statement actually means that there is no extra charge for the rust.

    Like 1
  13. Dennis Fox

    Owner speaks with forked tongue.

  14. Dennis Fox

    Is that rope holding the hood down or the fenders up? Just asking.

    Like 1
  15. Mark S Member

    I’d think that a 331 period hemi would fit the bill nicely with a 4 speed manual trans behind it. I’d leave the body stock looking and put a leather interior out of a wrecked newer 300. Finally I’d upgrade at least the front brakes to disc. With some scrounging this could be a relatively inexpensive driver quality restoration. As I’ve said in the past these old cars had single stage gloss paint on them something fairly easy to do and not that expensive. To many old car are over restored and that really drives prices up.

  16. Lance Walker

    Brian I think what he meant by saying ‘rust free’ is that the rust is free.

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