Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 136,379 pages of information and 219,138 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

De Soto

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search
1934. De Soto Airflow. Exhibit at Motor Museum of Western Australia.
1949. Desoto S13. Six-cylinders. 3870cc. Exhibit at the Manoir de L'Automobile, Loheac.

The DeSoto (sometimes De Soto) was a brand of automobile based in the United States, manufactured and marketed by the Chrysler Corporation from 1928 to 1961. The DeSoto logo featured a stylized image of Hernando de Soto.

The DeSoto make was founded by Walter P. Chrysler on August 4, 1928, and introduced for the 1929 model year. It was named after the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Chrysler wanted to enter the brand in competition with its arch-rivals General Motors, Studebaker, and Willys-Knight, in the mid-price class.

Shortly after DeSoto was introduced, however, Chrysler completed its purchase of the Dodge Brothers, giving the company two mid-priced makes. Had the transaction been completed sooner, DeSoto never would have been introduced.

Initially, the two-make strategy was relatively successful, with DeSoto priced below Dodge models. Despite the economic times, DeSoto sales were relatively healthy, pacing Dodge at around 25,000 units in 1932.

In 1933, Chrysler reversed the market positions of the two marques in hopes of boosting Dodge sales. By elevating DeSoto, it received Chrysler's streamlined 1934 Airflow bodies. But, on the shorter DeSoto wheelbase, the design was a disaster and was unpopular with consumers. Unlike Chrysler, which still had more traditional models to fall back on, DeSoto was hobbled by the Airflow design until the 1935 Airstream arrived.

Aside from its Airflow models, DeSoto's 1942 model is probably its second most memorable model from the pre-war years, when the cars were fitted with powered pop-up headlights, a first for a North American mass-production vehicle. DeSoto marketed the feature as "Air-Foil" lights "Out of Sight Except at Night".

UK Assembly

1930-31 A cheaper brand of Chrysler assembled at Kew [1]

See Also

Loading...

Sources of Information

  1. * A-Z of Cars of the 1920s by Nick Baldwin. 1994. ISBN 1 870979 53 2