1955 DeSoto Firedome?

Discussion in 'Vintage Finds and Deals' started by Heather, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Heather

    Heather Practically Family

    Messages:
    657
    Location:
    Southern Maine, USA
    There's one for sale down the road from me. Does anyone have any thoughts on these cars? Wikipedia can only tell me so much, y'know? :) Thanks!
     
  2. Heather

    Heather Practically Family

    Messages:
    657
    Location:
    Southern Maine, USA
    Correction--it's actually a Fireflite. Carry on! :p
     
  3. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    Cobourg
    I'm a fan of Chrysler cars including DeSoto. They are one of the best cars of their time. However, 1955 was a sort of transition period. They were a much more modern car than the flathead six cylinder model featured before 1955, with modern V8, 2 speed automatic trans, available power steering and power brakes etc.

    But 1958 and newer Chrysler products are better if you want a car you can use. Not a big difference in performance but 1957 - 58 was when the definitive engines (B and RB) , transmissions ( 3 speed Torqueflite) front suspension (torsion bar) were introduced. Mechanically speaking they hardly changed from 1958 to 1978. This makes 58 up models much easier to get parts and repairs on.
     
  4. Boodles

    Boodles A-List Customer

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    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Firedome

    Really sound advice from Mr. Doble, I think.

    The term Firedome, as I recall, refers to the hemi (hemispherical combustion chamber) engine. '55 was right about the 1st year for these. Way, way back I recall complaints about the mongrel 2 speed auto transmission. Finding a zizwheel for that nowadays would be a piece of work.

     
  5. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

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    2,853
    Location:
    Bennington, VT 05201
    Tom McCahill loved the '55 Chrysler line. So much so, he bought a '55 Dodge wagon for his own personal use.

    I love the styling, and there's a lot of interest in the early Hemis at the moment. DeSoto's came out in '52, incidentally. Couple that renewed interest with the internet and parts and upgrades are easier to get now than they've been in years.

    If you need more inspiration, read up on the '56 DeSoto Adventurer and read this thread on the HAMB.
     
  6. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,808
    Location:
    Cobourg
    McCahill was a fan of Chrysler products in general. In a 1955 road test he said that every part on a Chrysler built car looks like it cost more to make than the corresponding part on competitors' cars.

    Powerflite was a good reliable trans, though only a 2 speed, most automatics in those days were. Torqueflite was the first 3 speed, torque converter automatic in the modern mode. GM had their 4 speed hydramatic but it was an obsolete design with no torque converter.

    I wouldn't be afraid to buy a 55 DeSoto. McCahill rated its brother, the Chrysler Windsor the best buy in the medium price field.

    If I recall right, only the Firedome model had the hemi head engine. The Fireflite had a more conventional design they called a Polysphere. The difference is obvious at a glance. The hemi has wide valve covers with the spark plug wires in the middle. The Polysphere has valve covers scalloped along the bottom, with the spark plugs below the valve cover.

    Both engines used the same block and were alike except for the cylinder heads. The difference in performance was negligible below 80 MPH, then the hemi showed its class. This is the reason they dropped the hemi engine, every engineer agreed it was the best engine, but to the every day motorist the difference was not worth the cost.

    By the way I have a 1951 DeSoto in my garage and a 49 Chrysler in the driveway. The 1955 DeSoto is light years ahead of its predecessors of just 5 years earlier. But there was not a lot of progress in the next 20 years, at least when it came to usable performance for the average family. A 55 DeSoto in top shape would have no trouble keeping up with today's traffic.
     
  7. cookie

    cookie I'll Lock Up

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    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    The Chrysler was one of the vintage cars you saw a lot in Australia growing up in the 50s/60s.

    The DeSoto was a prolific brand. My father was in an accident in one in a full roll over and walked away unscathed! My brother had one of the 1963 Chryslers with those huge fins.

    Pure comfort and converted to like a double bed to sleep inside.
     
  8. AtomicEraTom

    AtomicEraTom

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    10,885
    Location:
    Portage, Wis.
    I wouldn't be afraid to buy one, and wouldn't be afraid of a 2-speed automatic. I've had Chevy's Powerglide in a couple cars in my teens and never had any issue with them.
     
  9. David Conwill

    David Conwill Call Me a Cab

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    2,853
    Location:
    Bennington, VT 05201
    I think that may be backward. In ‘55 Fireflite was the top line and Firedome was the entry-level DeSoto: Windsor to Fireflite’s New Yorker.
     

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