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Uncle Clarence’s 1941 DeSoto Coupe


Thanks to Barn Finds reader Drew V for the tip on the absolutely beautiful 1941 DeSoto. For being 75 years old, it’s as solid a survivor as you will ever find. In fact, if I am in as good condition when I hit that age, I will be extremely happy (cue the jokes about wheels and gas tank).


This car is a Custom Series Model S8C Club Coupe, of which 6,726 were manufactured in 1941, a year in which DeSoto production overall was almost 90,000 units, putting the marque in a solid 10th place in the industry (by comparison, Chevy sold over a million cars that year).


This was a five passenger car, powered by a 228 cubic inch L-head six cylinder engine, and usually a three speed manual transmission, with fluid drive optional.


This particular car comes with a wonderful story. It is up for auction in Pennsylvania (where it has been since it was purchased new from R.C. Keller Motor Cars in York). Interestingly, the auction company is called Keller also, though there is evidently no connection with the original selling DeSoto dealer.


The car was originally owned by a Mr. Clarence Conley. It is now in the hands of his niece, Darlene, who is ready for it to be purchased by someone who will give it the same level of care and attention it has received for its already long life.


Here is some of the story from the auction website, which is accompanied by 139 photos. As you will see from the auction site, this car is in remarkably original condition, has been driven very little, and should be prized by DeS0to lovers everywhere.

(Clarence) only drove it when the weather was nice and often walked to work everyday. He kept it protected from the elements by storing it in his garage. The 44,000 miles were mostly from drives through the countryside with his parents on beautiful days. Darlene remembers riding in the back seat as a child with her mother and grandparents on the way to picnics to Apple Country in Adams County, PA…. Darlene has many great memories of this car and her uncle together. She inherited the car in 1980 and it has been stored it in her garage since 1979 when it was driven to her home in Lititz. When it arrived to her home, it was set on blocks with the wheels off the ground until February of 2016 when it was taken to Steffy’s Garage in Leola, PA for servicing. Scott Steffy has collected and worked on antique cars over the years and was able to get the brakes working as they should, and got the car in running and driving condition. Very little work was done to get this antique car into its current condition. The gas tank was just replaced as the original had a hole rusted through on the top. Seat covers have protected the seats since Clarence bought it and appear to be in great shape. The covers have been removed to show the condition, but are being sold with the car. All of the gauges on the dash are known to be working along with the lights, wipers and horns. 


This DeSoto is terrifically attractive, has a great history, and displays wonderful detail and originality throughout. I would be thrilled – and proud –  to own this car, but I’d probably also be nervous about being able to give it the care it deserves, and have to wonder if it would not be better off in a museum somewhere, so that as many people as possible get a chance to see a pre-WWII original car in almost as-built condition.


It’s definitely fun to scroll through the pictures of this car on the auction site. Take a look. If one of our readers ends up buying this car, please let us know. I’d be willing to drive a long way to have a chance to see this car in person.


  1. Rock On Member

    Man, I wish that I had some cool Uncles like this!

    Like 1
  2. Ed P

    WOW!!!!! Uncle Clarence sure took care of his baby. Amazing original condition.

    Like 0
  3. Vince Habel

    Can’t get any closer to me as I live in the town where it is for sale. Too bad It isn’t for me

    Like 0
  4. Joe

    Looks to be a very well cared for solid car, nice styling and great story. Interesting how Uncle Clarence picked green after getting out of the army in 41. Price seems very reasonable.

    Like 0
  5. Mark S

    Fantastic car, its drive line / suspension looks just like my 1951 dodge. As a lot of you know post ww2 cars like mine were just freshened up version of the pre war cars, and dodge and DeSoto share the same DNA. Mine is not done yet ( about 80% ) but I’m hoping within the next few years it will be. I can assure anyone wanting a first time classic car that you will find this DeSoto to be easy to work on. I really hope that this goes to a good care giver that will use it but keep it maintained, great find.

    Like 0
  6. Fran McMullen

    Where did they find a new tank ? I need to replace the one in my ’41 De Soto.

    Thanks !

    Like 0
    • seth

      was wondering about the new tank

      Like 0
    • Al Prytherch

      I had one made for my 1926 Dodge,at a local metal shop. He used the old one for duplicating everything. Unfortunately that man has passed away but I suspect an older metal shop in your area could handle making one for you.

      Like 0
  7. Kevin

    I have a ’40 DeSoto S7 4 door sedan waiting patiently in my garage for resurrection. It survived but there is no comparison in condition to this beautiful ’41. Mine will not be painted. The one rear fender dent will be pounded out with a claw hammer. The long diagonal dent in the roof, caused by holding up a collapsed building for decades will be professionally fixed. The same engine and 3 speed as this ’41 will most likely be replaced with a low mile ’73 Dodge motorhome 360/727. Mine shows 44,000 miles and the engine turns. All of the body rubber parts, window and door seals are toast as ‘was’ the upholstery, it’s barren now. This was in the worst condition of three DeSoto’s I found in 2013. I traded a horrible condition ’49 Packard to save it from the crusher, I just couldn’t allow it to happen. Pic is as it was when I found it. The other two DeSoto’s were older, between a friend and I we bought all 3.

    Like 0
    • Kevin

      Early on I mistakenly thought mine was a ’41. The one year only grilles pegged it as a ’40.

      Like 0
  8. Doug Briggs

    In 1960 – 1962, I had a 1941 (per the title) Desoto Coupe that had that same grill, 2 speed rear end and a pair of fold away seats cushions in the rear.

    It had a 143 hp motor, three on the tree and a 6 volt electric system. I could roll start it by myself on asphalt. I removed the fender welting, brazed the joint and applied copious amounts of ‘Bondo’.

    I bought it for $35 wrecked. My dad took an independent suspension off a one side of a 941 Plymouth and painted it robin’s egg blue.

    When I joined the Navy I sold it for $125.


    Like 0

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