1956 DeSoto Fireflite Pacesetter Convertible

The DeSoto, distinct from its short-lived Edwardian predecessor, debuted in 1929 under Chrysler Corporation’s umbrella, aiming to fill the gap between upscale Chrysler and the new Plymouth. Despite an impressive launch with record-breaking sales lasting three decades, DeSoto struggled amidst Chrysler’s efforts to streamline its brands, overshadowed by Dodge’s affordability and Chrysler’s prestige.

Post-World War II, DeSoto resumed civilian production in 1946, retaining its 1942 models with minimal updates until the early 1950s. The industry’s shift towards V8 engines saw Chrysler’s iconic ‘Hemi’ emerge, with DeSoto’s variant named ‘FireDome’. The brand’s OHV V8 debuted in 1952, with subsequent restyles leading to the 1955 ‘Forward Look’ design by Virgil Exner, epitomized by the FireFlite series.

The FireFlite, powered by a 200bhp FireDome V8, offered sedan, hardtop coup, and convertible variants, with the latter notably limited in production. The FireFlite convertible earned the prestigious title of the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car in 1956. However, within a few years, stiff competition, including Chrysler’s own Newport, led to DeSoto’s demise, marking the end of its production in November 1960.

Photo Source: RM Sotheby’s