October 18, 1951 – DeSoto Firedome production begins

1953 desoto hemi
1953 DeSoto Firedome. By dave_7 from Lethbridge, Canada CC BY-SA 2.0

For 1952 the DeSoto Firedome, which began production on this day in 1951, would replace the Custom at the top of the Desoto line up. Starting at $2,740, the six passenger land yacht rolled off the assembly line in a variety of body styles, including a wagon, coupe, sedan or convertible. Each came equipped with a Hemi V8 engine, marking the first time DeSoto offered a V8 since 1931. The 276 cubic inch Firedome Hemi produced 160 horsepower that powered the car to a top speed of 100 miles per hour. In 1953, horsepower increased to 170.

1955 DeSoto Firedome

With the introduction of the Fireflite in 1955, the Firedome found itself at the bottom of the line up. However, its engine only grew larger, hitting 291 cubic inches and 185 horsepower. The next year, 1956, horsepower jumped to 230. Powerwise, it only got better. By 1958 the V8 pumped out more than 300 horsepower and pushed the car to more than 115 miles per hour. However power wouldn’t save the day for DeSoto, nor would a massive variety of colors.

desoto firedome
1959 DeSoto Firedome. By Lglswe – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1959, the final year of the Firedome, consumers could select from 26 solid colors or an astonishing 190 two tone options. Still sales slumped, in part due to the poor economy, but also due to ongoing quality issues at DeSoto. The model was phased out after 1959 and within two years DeSoto would end production altogether.

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