There is no doubt that the Greatest Generation shaped the way we think about society and the way things used to be- their deep sense of community, patriotism, and respect sometimes seems to be a thing of the past. Perhaps that’s why we idolize the way they lived-the music, the old Coca-Cola bottle, the dancing…the cars. While the young men were fighting in “The War,” as so many veterans still say, the women anxiously awaited their return. The jubilee that followed the end of World War II, when combined with the booming economy led to great innovations and some of the best story lines for the love stories movie producers can hardly depict fast enough, it seems.
An iconic car of their generation is the DeSoto. Young couples loved to
take it for a spin, perhaps ending at the drive-in theater for the latest Clark Gable or Abbot & Costello motion picture. The story of the DeSoto begins in 1928, when Chrysler decided to enter the competition for middle-of-the-road prices on automobiles. Even in its early days, the DeSoto sold relatively well-about 25,000 units in 1932! Not bad for being The Great Depression.
One of the more memorable models is the 1942 DeSoto, which featured powered pop-up headlights-this was a first for North American mass-production vehicles. The “Air Foil” lights were marketed with the slogan “Out of Sight, Except at Night.” Once the war ended, the 1942 model was reissued as the 1946 model, but it no longer featured the hidden-headlight feature. This time, the fender lines extended into the doors.
In 1956, the DeSoto served as the Pace Car at the Indianapolis 500-it was the first and the last time. Tailfins had been added to the model to give it a little extra flair, and consumers loved it-the cars began to sell in record number. Sadly, the popularity didn’t last, and the DeSoto saw its last production year in 1961. The decision was announced in November 1960m a little over a month after the newest model was introduced.
As the old adage goes, “all good things must come to an end.” In the years leading up to DeSoto’s decline, so began a new era. The post-war economic boom was beginning to fall and Generation X was grappling to gain control of their young lives. As with all generations, they couldn’t wait to put their stamp on the cars of the future.