Two Door Survivor: 1948 DeSoto Custom

This beautiful Desoto is listed on Craigslist in Stockton, California for $7,950. The price seems reasonable for a car this nice. I’m surprised it’s been listed for a month now and not sold. It was repainted at some time, but otherwise it’s original. It runs and drives very well.

The interior shows some staining and a little wear but it still looks nice. It looks original, but what do you think?

The dash looks really nice. You can see the staining on the door panel and hole worn in the seat.

It looks clean and original under the hood. The silver paint on the engine is not original, so perhaps the engine has had some attention at some time?

Why do you think this Desoto hasn’t sold after being listed for a month? It has a few flaws but looks like it would be a really great driver. It has the right number of doors and looks like a really nice car. The easy answer is the price is too high, of course. There’s little interest in pre war cars these days. Or maybe it’s not nearly as nice in person. Perhaps I should drive down and have a look for myself.


  1. Hoos Member

    I like it. The body has some interesting lines. I never did understand why Fonzie always put down the Desoto. I also don’t understand how this car, from ’48, is a pre-war car. Am I missing something?

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    • William

      A ’48 model car would not be “pre-war.”

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      • JimmyinTEXAS

        Pre-Korean war, maybe….

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      • David Frank David F Member

        The statement is “There’s little interest in pre war cars these days” not that this is a pre-war car. Most post-war cars kept their prewar design until new post-war designs began to appear in 1949.

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    • Ed P

      “Post war”

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    • Bellingham Fred

      True, the car was produced after WWII,however the styling is a carryover from pre-war. In the rush to get back to civilian production car makers made very few changes through the ’48 model year. So technically it is post-war, but to avoid confusion it should be called pre-war styling.

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  2. Wayne

    Maybe they meant to say Korean war

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  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Look at that beautiful nose!!

    Dang. If gas was cheap and artists designed cars instead of computers and wind tunnels the world would be a better place

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  4. vern lefever

    Where are you? If you find yourself in Carmel area feel free to stop by and look over my ’69 Cit wagon. I apparently have stage 4 prostate cancer and not sure I can continue using it.

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    • Greg Millard

      Sorry to hear about the cancer – there sure seems to be a lot of it one my daughters and another son in law both fighting it. Re Cit Wagon (Break) your car what year & model and is it ‘green’ fluid and a manual trans, thanks in advance, Greg

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  5. Joe Haska

    Looks like a very nice car, I think the problem is they have never been popular, and it is true the interest in the older cars pre-war in this case pre 1950. I have been at B/J all week, and will be until its over, and all I can say this year even more than all the others, I can’t figure it out? I can’t tell if there is some sort of a trend or if its random, you see cars go for what you think is way too cheap, and then all of sudden a car brings big money, that what “APPEARED” to be a very similar car, that earlier did nothing. Five Bantams went through yesterday, all nice cars obviously done by the same restorer. One went for over 50K and the others were about 30K , the one that got the big money was a pick up. The only explanation is people buy what they like , and it depends on who is bidding at the time, I’m sure someone will comment on how stupid I am and I know nothing about cars and the car market, OK. Because I would love to talk to the guy that does understand it!

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  6. Rustytech Member

    This is the first car I was old enough to remember my father having. His was a 4 door in black. I saw it going up the road in front of the house one morning and told dad about it. He said it was just one that looked like his, until he went to the garage to leave for work and the car was gone. The police found it the next day out of gas at a local garage. Fortunately it was not damaged. This is a nice old car.

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  7. Craig MacDonald

    I drove a 1950 DeSoto through H.S. (graduated in 1968, so I was NOT one of the cool kids). Two thoughts: that odd semi-automatic transmission is an odd contraption that takes some getting used to and combines the disadvantages of a manual and an automatic. Second, his price is high for a car that hasn’t and probably never will appreciate significantly. Too much money for a recreational driver.

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  8. Wagon master

    Geez, I don’t know. What else can u buy for that kind of money with that much character in a classic, assuming it runs and drives reliably. It’s in presentable non embarrassing condition.

    Good find Dave!!

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    • Mark S

      You nailed Wagon Master this is a good deal on a great car, of course I’m bias I’m a Mopar fan all the way.

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  9. Ben T. Spanner

    This is also the first car I remember my Father driving. His was a Grey 1948 Desoto convertible. After driving junk through WWII, the Korean War scared him and he bought a 1951, Dodge convertible off the showroom floor. I was 5 and was in heaven. So my Father’s 1948 Desoto was “prewar”.

    The Desoto and the first 1951 Dodge were fluid drive. The Dodge convertible was totaled by red light runner and replaced by a 1951 Dodge Diplomat which was a 2 door hardtop. It was loaded; full wheel covers, push button chrome radio, and Gryomatic; the goofy automatic described above.

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  10. Howard

    Fonzie used to rag on the DeSoto cause they were no longer made and he wasn’t damaging a current car brand. Guys like to be the cars they remember from their youth, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these in person. I had a 47 Dodge with the fluid drive and I loved it. It was a rust bucket but on the coldest days, you touched that starter button and it was running. It wasn’t a hot rod by any means but I could run around all day on a dollars worth of gas

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  11. Paul B

    We had a ’48 Dodge 4-door and my grandmother had a ’51 or ’52 Dodge 2-door, both with Fluid Drive. If I were interested in a car of that era, this DeSoto would be a very powerful candidate. It looks to be in really nice driver condition and it is beautiful with its roundness and Deco detailing everywhere. The Chrysler products of that time were very conservative (following the Airflow debacle) but also extremely well built, quiet and comfortable cars.

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  12. Paul B

    They really did have good features.

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  13. charlie Member

    Neighbor had a ’42 sedan, with every option, quite luxurious, and it had lids over the headlights. To a 14 year old car guy it was the most luxurious car I had ever sat in. SLOW off the mark with that Fluid Drive, no chirping the tires with that, but cruised at 70 MPH on the Maine Turnpike with no problem.

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    • Ed P

      Hidden headlights were on ’42s only. They did not return after WW2.

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  14. Peter Atherton

    Had a ’50 DeSoto convertible during my college years,it was passed down to me from my parents.Slow as molasses,but unstoppable in snow due to the Fluid Drive.It had really nice lines,square windshield panes,just the right amount of chrome.Neat feature was the “Black Light”dashboard lighting,and the lighted Hernando DeSoto hood ornament.

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  15. G 1

    All Chrysler Corp flathead engines from the 40’s on were painted silver.

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  16. starsailing

    I would buy this in a heartbeat if I wasn’t paying my kid’s bills…..forget all today’s cookie cutter cars…make a statement….living and relaxing in style…

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  17. Otto Nobedder

    Im amazed at the Commenters that had(or knew) DeSoto convertibles. That was my big brother’s first car. It was abandoned and had no top when he got it. In So Cal the top was not too big an issue when you’re young & dumb. After that, I thought all other cars with a clutch pedal should start out in 3rd gear!

    Like 0

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