1961 DeSoto assembly line

November 18, 1960 – End of the line for DeSoto

Less than a week after Chrysler acquired Dodge Brothers, it debuted its new mid-priced DeSoto line for 1929. The additions gave Chrysler two makes aimed at the same consumer. The original plan had Chrysler at the top, followed by DeSoto, then Plymouth as their entry level ride. Buying Dodge threw a bit of a wrench in things and DeSoto faced identity problems as executives tried to figure out where it sat on the Mopar totem pole. Upon its introduction, it was placed below Dodge and above Plymouth. In an attempt to boost Dodge sales, Chrysler flip-flopped the brands pricing models in 1933. The introduction of the DeSoto Airflow the following year nearly killed the marque, as it had no other models to fall back on.

1935 DeSoto Airflow
Above: 1935 DeSoto Airflow SG Business Coupe. By Greg Gjerdingen CC BY 2.0
Top: DeSoto production line in 1961 (Chrysler)

A mishmash of design ideas, pricing changes and experimentation with the DeSoto line left the brand on uneven ground for much of its early life. Things began to stabilize by the late 1930s, and Chrysler put more faith in the brand. For 1942 DeSoto even received the first mass produced power pop-up headlights. Unfortunately, WWII ended the model’s production and the reintroduction of the fancy feature failed to occur.

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While the brand achieved relative success in the early 1950s, a recession at the end of the decade led in part to Chrysler’s decision to cut DeSoto. The fateful announcement came on this day in 1960. The final Desotos would roll off the assembly line at Chrysler’s Jefferson Avenue Plant on November 30. The very last being a 1961 two-door hardtop with a 361cu, 265-hp V8. I could have been yours at $3,100.

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