The DeSoto is a notable brand that is immediately recognizable to classic and collectible automobile enthusiasts, and it is interesting to note that the brand was creatively named after the famed explorer Hernando de Soto. The DeSoto line was the brainchild of none other than automotive industry legend Walter Chrysler,... and they produced their first car in 1929.
It is very interesting to note that Chrysler acquired Dodge at around that same time, and of course 1929 was the year of the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression. So, it would seem on the surface that this was not the best time to be extending your company in several different directions. In fact, Chrysler would have never launched DeSoto had he been able to close the deal with Dodge sooner.
Perhaps surprisingly, DeSoto succeeded, selling 25,000 cars in 1932. The company went on to introduce a succession of popular models until World War II interrupted commercial car production. Some of these were the UPE Six Convertible Coupe, the DeSoto Series CF, the S-6 Custom De Luxe 4-Door Sedan, and the DeSoto S-8 Series. After the war, they resumed production, and in the 1950s they released the Powermaster, Firedome, Fireflite, and Firesweep. Desoto did well through most of the 50s, but the economic downturn of 1958 led to their demise, and they halted production permanently in November of 1960 shortly after completing their run of 1961 models.
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