What’s This 1948 Desoto Worth?

1948 Desoto Suburban

Much like Jarod R’s Lincoln that we featured yesterday, Ryan M recently inherited a car that’s been parked in a field. This 1948 Desoto Suburban belonged to Ryan’s Grandfather, who parked it on the family farm years ago. It has been parked out in this field for a long time and is starting to show it. It’s covered in rust, but actually appears to be quite solid. Ryan and his family are trying to decide what to do with his Grandfather’s collection and he decided he would turn to us for information about this Desoto. He is curious to know if there is any value or interest in this big Suburban.

1948 Desoto

From Ryan M – So this 1948 Desoto Suburban is fully intact. Glass, tires, upholstery, engine, transmission, hood ornament…but clearly its being hanging out in the field with the cows. I have no idea where to start with this thing. Is it worth a dime? I have to believe there is someone out there who is working on these cars that needs that headlamp or rear axle. Or wants to dust this one off. What do ya’ll think?

So guys, what do you think about this Desoto? Is it worth restoring or is it a parts car now?


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  1. Fred Warnick

    Sure there is interest but it really needs a closer looking at

    • Anthony Anthony Member

      The Desoto needs more photos…..I am interested, but………..

  2. Vince Habel

    A Happy Days car. Possibly could make them happy. I don’t think it will ever bring a lot of money. It is something different.

  3. David Dietz

    Hard To say until it’s pulled out of the weeds so it can be properly photographed and evaluated. I know the vintage cargo carrier would fetch a few hundred on its own.

  4. Capt Doug

    The most expensive of the Desoto line in 1948 – it does have a strong collectible interest and is an imposing car in person.
    Get it out of the field, do some cleaning up and get someone to do a lot of photos – it will bring good money and should not be considered a parts car, it is likely in better shape than the one a parts buyer is restoring.

  5. Wayne Palmer

    Definitely not a parts car! This car’s design and function, right down to the luggage rack, is so unique. It may have been the first crossover! I don’t know who might have interest in it for restoration, but I think it would make a mean Surfer Rod with boards on top and plenty of room inside for a party on wheels. This car has so many cool elements that deserve to be repurposed!

  6. KO

    Save it! Can’t tell about rot, but looks beautiful and complete.

  7. Howard A Member

    Well, it’s got sentimental value through the roof, just because it was his Grandfather’s car. Sadly, cars left outside up to the bumper in dirt, generally don’t fare well. Still, if you could get it going, what a thrill to be driving the car your Grandfather drove. I say keep it. Gramps would be proud.

  8. DT

    This model, for a long time, has been a collectable. Now its all about condition. You need to pull it from the bushes,without doing more damage to it. Evaluate it,decide if its a keeper or not. If its not, decide on a price. Let the buyer decide if its restorable or a parts car.I dont think a headlamp is going to put you through college.

  9. Vince Habel

    This one is going to need the POR 15 treatment.

  10. tom999p

    It’s all about the money

  11. Ric Parrish

    It looks like the limo our YMCA guy hauled us kids around in, in the 50’s. It should have factory jump seats etc. It really looks like it because of the large back doors.

  12. jim Clark

    the Suburban is a rare and collectible car. The roof rack was original equipment, not just a vintage accessory. It could be an expensive restoration, but worth it.

  13. Jarod Rose

    One in perfect condition was on bringatrailer for 18,500
    I am in the same place as you inherited a car and now I have to decide what to do with it. If you can store it and have sentimental value you keep it and try to get it running. In a perfect situation that is what I would do with my Lincoln.

  14. Rick

    I would really like to see it out of the weeds and know where it is.

  15. Dave Wright

    I have owned several Desotos of this vintage. They are an in between car, big Chrysler bodies with smaller Dodge engines. They were good cars but seldom have the appeal of either Chryslers or Dodges. The Suburbans were interesting but values are less than the Chryslers and cost an equal amount to restore. There are a few exceptions, 1955 Indy pace car converts, 1959 sportsman…….but these early cars not so much.

  16. waynard

    There’s one nearly identical to this in my community; been sitting in the weeds for at least the 20 years I’ve lived here. I offered them $500.00 for it 15 or so years ago and about once every 18 months since then. Then offered $650.00. No luck. I’ve asked what they think it’s worth: They think it’s worth 10 times that. I’ve explained to them that the price will not be going up on the car, rather, it’s getting worse and more expensive to rebuild. No luck. It ain’t that valuable even in terrific condition, just an nice old car to me, that I’d like to get running and drive. The book says about $950.00 in #6 condition. I’d offer them that if they’d counter. No luck on that either.

    • roger gorski

      Wayward, you seem to be the most knowledgeable person to comment on this find. It is apparently true that beauty is really in the eye of the beholder or in this case the family who owns this old car. Why do owners think these #6 condition cars are so valuable?
      I say watching too many car shows on Velocity or reading collector websites that e-mail daily stories on “barn finds” and old cars that are currently up for sale. If they are so valuable why hasn’t the family done something with them before now?
      Leaving a car to rust in a weed field is the same as flushing cash down a toilet and thinking its going to be retrieved some day!

      • waynard

        I wish I could give you a clear and concise answer, but I have yet to find one. I appraise cars professionally and so I get to see an awful lot of things most people won’t, hidden away in yards and shipping containers and garages in inner city alleyways. Some good, some very good, some very bad.

        Sometimes I’ll appraise something that has no obvious apparent value in the marketplace or that insurance companies won’t touch. The owners of these vehicles will be upset that their ‘baby’ has very little value except as an oddity or a boat anchor to most, yet they continue to maintain their belief that they’re sitting on a goldmine. Usually these are cars from their fathers or uncles or that was the first car they ever owned and they’re going to save it for their kids to fix up. (Who most likely won’t want it anyway). As an aside, I see a lot of cars the kids or the widows don’t want and wind up virtually given away to strangers.

        I agree that TV’s and the InterNet’s obsession with auctions and car programs in general have distorted the market, giving people hope that American Pickers or Antiques Roadshow types will show up at their door with pocketfuls of cash. And indeed some of the “barn finds” that are out there in public now have brought scads of money. But those are rare or unique vehicles, not run of the mill cars or trucks, or even, like the subject of this blog, a desirable sedan, but not particularly so, except to a narrow group of collectors. Blogs like this one do all of us car guys (and gals) a great service in showing us what’s out there and what we can find if we look hard enough, then drag it home and make it whole again. Conversely, it also gives many owners a “right”, they feel, to put stupid prices on some things barely worth the screen you’re reading this on.

        This is not a 5 or 10K dollar car. It’s a #5 at the very best and more likely it’s bordering on #6 having been sitting in the weeds on wet ground for who knows how long; maybe a parts car with a value as I stated earlier. Would I pay $1000.00 for the one down the road from me? Probably. Would I pay $2000.00? Only if I had a burning desire to own it, believing I could bring it back to life for reasonable money. And I can’t. It just needs too much; obvious from the handful of personal inspections I’ve made on it already. Should it be saved? Definitely. I would hope an honest report on this or other vehicles saved from this situation would be forthcoming. Now there’s an idea for yet another blog.

      • Brian

        Sadly, we are quickly losing the generation of enthusiasts, due to advancing age and death, that had owned or grew up with these cars and would have had the greatest interest in buying and restoring them. Sadder for me, personally, is that the up-and-coming generation will be totally lost on the “Happy Days” references as well! You must be of “a certain age” for the expression “Marion! My DeSoto!” to mean anything to you…

        Hopefully, someone will step up, purchase it, and bring it back to it’s glory! It’s no hot rod, but it has style!

  17. skip

    restore it or sell it to someone who will!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. geomechs geomechs Member

    You definitely have to get it out of the weeds and onto a clean level surface to properly evaluate it. Clean it up and look at it from all angles including the underside. You might be surprised how little it might need to get it back in operation.

    If it was MY grandfather’s car, I would restore it and drive it, no matter the cost. Having something that you can trace back in your family is worth the investment.

  19. RickyM

    Good luck restoring it – Love that it’s still got the luggage on the roof rack !

  20. JC

    I checked around online and found out that this car is worth about $5,000-$10,000, depending on its condition, this one is probably in the $5,000 range.

  21. Jack R

    How much does it weigh? Scrap metal should bring good money.

  22. Doug

    Hey– I’m old enough to remember seeing these as taxi cabs in NY and Chicago, roof rack and all. Except those had smooth leather seats front and rear and no fancy wood paneling. As I remember, they had jump seats as well. Folks used to share rides back then and could squeeze 7 into one of these.,

    Hope you get it pulled out of the weeds soon. Send more pics incl. the interior if you can, we’d all like to follow your progress. This is a real piece of history..

  23. Scott Simpson

    Does anyone know what happened with this car ?

  24. Bridget McLoughlin

    just came across this post.
    It’s in the same spot…..
    Would love to find someone who is into this car get to enjoy all or part of it

  25. Scott Simpson

    I would like it. Where is this car?

    • Bridget M McLoughlin

      Moodus, CT 06469

      • Scott Simpson

        Thats about a hour from me.

  26. Bridget M McLoughlin

    Feel free to call 203 524 7356 or email gidgetmc@att.net and we can discuss

  27. Joyce Rapp

    I have a 48 DeSoto custom sedan that the engine got ruined on and needs a new radiator. I bought both but don’t have the time/money to restore it. I would like to give it a good home. Anyone interested?

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