In late 1956, the innovative Virgil Exner’s vision of Chrysler’s future made an impact on every designers and Chrysler’s rivals scrambled to update all of the old models, otherwise, they would all be left behind by the brilliant designs’ of Virgil Exner. One of the most significant designs that came out of this is probably the 1956 DeSoto lineup that had similar designs with the cheaper Plymouth and Dodge models, and even the luxurious models of Chrysler.
Because the production number of the De Soto was not very high, it was exclusively sold. The stylish De Soto was highly desirable at that time and its top of the line model was the Fireflite. The Fireflite was powered by the iconic Hemi V8 engine that produced 295 horsepower. The De Soto Fireflite’s most prominent feature are the large tailfins. The unique design of the De Soto is brought by the tailfins fitted with 3 stacking taillights on each and loaded with chrome.
This 1957 De Soto from Charlotte, North Carolina is a great example of the best of its breed, the Fireflite Sportsmans hardtop. It comes in a classy Sahara Tan and White 2-tone finish which is believed to be original. This Fireflite clearly shows why they were very popular at their time. If you look closer, you can see that this stylish classic is beautiful in every detail. In the front, the large opening chrome grille is loaded with shiny trims covered in a deep finish. It rides on shining Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels covered in wide whitewall tires.
The 3-speed Torque-Flite automatic transmission can easily be controlled with the accessible push-button shifting controls mounted on the left side of the steering wheel. It has comfortable bench seats that are covered in classy vinyl. The padded dashboard, carpet, and headliner are in excellent condition. This car is a highly optioned example including a clock mounted on the dash, push-button AM radio with 2 swept-back antennas mounted on the top of the rear fins, and a stock heater and defroster.
In the engine bay, you can easily see the solid and clean “Fire-Flite” Hemi V8 engine and a distinctive air filter canister. The Hemi is topped with a Carter AFB carburetor to maximize the power output. The large Hemi engine setup is tucked low enough so it would not need a big-block hood. This De Soto also comes with its original power brakes and power steering, an optional upgrade that cost $145 in 1957.
To ensure that the roaring Hemi V8 is heard, a pair of dual-exhaust it installed. The tips of the dual exhaust are chrome plated to show that this Fireflite packs some serious heat. The 1957 De Soto also featured the Torsion-Bar front suspension which impressed the automotive testing expert, Tom McCahill. “So far superior to anything else being made in this country that the contest isn’t even close,” McCahill said. This provided the 1957 De Sotos outstanding handling even when going through sharp corners and turns at high speeds. Combined with the legendary Hemi V8, the De Soto Fireflite Sportsman proved to be a force to be reckoned with.
References & Photo Credits: