Monday, June 2, 2014

Field trip DeSoto discovery!

I recently took a brief excursion out of the city and appropriately discovered a car named after an explorer! Yes the very classy and substantial vehicle before you is a 1948 DeSoto 4 door sedan. This marque's namesake was Hernando de Soto who was the kind of brutal explorer to ruthlessly pillage and subjugate any peoples he encountered. We won't let that legacy spoil the massive beauty sitting before us though. 
The first thing that needs to be expressed is just how awesome that grill is. Nothing about it is particularly complex, but it reminds me of the baleen of a whale in it's vast uniformity.
Here is a close up of the mega-stylized hood ornament which is of a winged goddess. In 1949 they went to the head of Hernando with his conquistador's helmet, but this sets a much nicer tone.
DeSoto was actually a division of Chrysler going back to the '20s, but was firmly established in it's own right long before this model was built. This faded coat of arms is the DeSoto logo, and supposedly stems from the original family crest of Hernando de Soto. It would continue to be further stylized until almost unrecognizable by the DeSoto division's demise in 1961.
The crest on the trunk is in much better condition, and has the added bonus of de Soto's head rising above it.
The swooping lines of these late '40s cars are so fluid that they happen to be more aerodynamic than anything built domestically for the following 30+ years. Even more impressive is that these cars were designed before World War II and still looked good when postwar civilian production resumed in 1946.
Close up of the neat art deco detail of the taillights.
It's kind of hard to see the inside but the dashboard has as much chrome as the front of the car! A radio sits sideways next to the large center-dash speaker. That shift lever controls the Fluid Drive system which was Chrysler's semi-automatic transmission first introduced back in 1941. With this trans all you needed the clutch for was to start from a stopped position in 1st gear; you selected all other gears by simply letting off the gas and shifting. 
Here we get the full majesty of this barge with it's rear-hinged "suicide" rear doors. When this car was new it was one of the most popular choices for taxicabs. Imagine rocketing through Manhattan in this beast!
This field trip was a fruitful one, with this property in particular delivering several choice rides from several decades, so stay tuned. . .

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