1959 DeSoto Fireflite Convertible
1959 DeSoto Fireflite Convertible
The '59 DeSotos continued in the style of famed automotive designer Virgil Exner's “Forward Look,” the celebrated styling trend which Chrysler introduced across the board for their 1956 models... the “look” that made Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto and Chrysler sales soar as mightily as did the fins of these bespangled automobiles. MoPar magazine ads were, perhaps, a bit optimistic, however, when they proclaimed the 1959 DeSotos “the exciting look and feel of the future!” This “future” would be very short lived as termination of DeSoto production was just around the bend.
For consignment a 1959 DeSoto Fireflite Convertible. The difference between the Fireflite, and the Firesweep is the Firesweep is the entry level car, and Fireflite is the high-end car with more power, a 4-barrel carburetor, and a higher optioned car. This Fireflite was rebuilt from the ground up, utilizing a couple of donor cars to complete this car with all steel no rust panels, a solid frame where even the inside was epoxied to prevent rust on the frame. All panels were dipped then meticulously sanded and painted to what you see here as your crescendo in 1959 form.
From “eyebrow” topped dual headlights, to thin horizontal grille, then downward to the massive chromed bumper with 2 mini Dagmars on the bottom, and long oval inserts on top, this front end announces with a shout that you've arrived. Add some jet age styled trimmings on top of the large front quarters, and on the sides utilize the beginnings of a trim spear that will eventually sweep downward and accentuate a rear massive fin, and we are using our eyes to sop up the late 50's gravy presented before us, that is dripping with the trappings of the era. DeSoto, known for their innovations, has used flush door handles on this car, as well as dual exterior side mirrors, all in beautiful chrome. Steel panels are straight, rust free, and bathed in red paint that is so deep one could dive headfirst into it. And lest we forget, the sweepspear in contrasting white with its outer chrome borders is just one of the excesses on this wonderful car. Screaming midcentury modern jet age style, our sweepspear climbs upward and forms a large fin for the rear quarter. Here the back of the car takes over with not 1, not 2, but 3 dixie cup shaped taillights in the fin formed by the spear. Throw on another massive rear bumper that emulates the design of the front, and we can now use the word snazzy. Also, this car's topper is a pristine white canvas convertible top, which has a clear plastic rear window, and moves up and down flawlessly. Turbine styled wheel covers in chrome wrapped by semi-wide whites are on all 4 corners.
Moving our adventure to the interior of this car, we can take an overall glance and see immediately the definition of excess! Starting with the door panels which use a red broadcloth insert that has horizontal lines stitched intermittently in white, gray and black looking a lot like the interference you would get on a TV when a windstorm would blow down your antennae. This is bordered on the bottom by a solid red vinyl panel and just above the broadcloth and below the red painted metal sill, is a white vinyl insert, loosely emulating the sweep spear of the exterior fame. Toggles for power windows are embedded in this panel also more early innovation from DeSoto. Turning our attention to the passenger seating we see a split bench with more of the TV interference pattern inserted into a smooth red bolster, with a white top panel. Noted these front seats swivel for easy in and out (eat your heart out bullet style T birds!). Power controls are on these seats, as is a mid-section smooth red vinyl mid seat and armrest/mid seat back. The big rear bench stretches from side panel to side panel and is in the same motif as the front split bench. On the dash which has more buttons, knobs and bezeled instruments than a modern 757, we note a push button station panel for the transmission. (Meet George Jetson!) Paying attention to detail, this push button console has a nifty Eames era pattern stamped into the background of aluminum. In addition to the plethora of controls and gauges a centrally located speedometer with a multicolored rolling bar tells your speed…snappy! A red padded dash top, stamped aluminum mid panel and white under dash combine with all the chrome to create a stunning array of gleaming eye candy. Black perfect carpet floods the floors and noted is the dash top mounted rear-view mirror.
Popping the hood and we shake hands with an immaculate engine bay with a 383ci V8 just perfectly restored and assembled in polished metal block and intake manifold and gold highlighted valve covers and dual oval air cleaners. These air cleaners hide dual 4-barrel carburetors, and on back is a 3-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission. If you are interested, the original 3.31 geared rear axle has been put on. (Jane his wife!)
Due to the replaced but mixed with the original frame off restoration, we see nothing but showroom condition underneath. Not even a mark on any of the black X frame, suspension and steering components, and the rest of the undercarriage bathed in red. Torsion bar suspension is in front, and leaf springs for the rear. Power drum brakes are noted on all 4 corners. We need to make mention, this car presents with a Firesweep VIN. Keep in mind that several donor cars were used in its construction, but it presents as a beautiful Fireflite, as per the consigner who would know…he built it!
This writer's wheelhouse of obsessions, I hopped right in and took her for a spin. She fired right up, and with the push of a button I was off like a prom dress! The test track proved no match for this buttoned up example of excesses. She handled beautifully, accelerated using all 8 of her barrels to drink fuel and provide a nice power curve, and shifted smoothly. A snappy cruiser, with all the neat functions working just swimmingly. A fantastic experience that made me want to run out and have my hair teased into a beehive…but I may be a bit early on that!
We could say as close to perfection and overdone to excess, but for the time this car was the cats meow. And it still is, as it presents a great example of what motoring was in 1959. A sight to behold, enough to have your throw your arms up in exhilaration, just like the ads' models.
2-Dodge Main Assy Plant
114555-Sequential Unit Number
Classic Auto Mall is a 336,000-square foot classic and special interest automobile showroom, featuring over 600 vehicles for sale with showroom space for up to 1,000 vehicles. Also, a 400 vehicle barn find collection is on display.
This vehicle is located in our showroom in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, conveniently located just 1-hour west of Philadelphia on the I-76 Pennsylvania Turnpike. The website is www.classicautomall.com and our phone number is (888) 227-0914. Please contact us anytime for more information or to come see the vehicle in person.