The De Soto marque was founded by Walter P

Saturday 4th August 1928

The De Soto marque was founded by Walter P. Chrysler, and introduced for the 1929 model year. It was named after the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. It ceased to exist in 1961.The new automobile logo featured a stylized image of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Chrysler’s announcement of the new DeSoto immediately attracted 500 deals and by the end of the year there were 1,500 dealerships.

As Chrysler was bring out the new DeSoto, the company purchased the Dodge Brothers which gave Chrysler two mid-priced lines. With the DeSoto priced below Dodge, the two-make approach to the mid-priced market niche worked. In 1933, Chrysler reversed the position of DeSoto and Dodge in the hopes of increasing Dodge sales. This meant that DeSoto was now priced higher than Dodge.

Chrysler began wind tunnel testing in 1927 and the quest for the ideal aerodynamic body which would save gasoline and increase speed. The result was the Airflow body. In 1934, the DeSoto used Chrysler’s streamlined Airflow bodies. The streamlined Airflow was originally designed for the Chrysler. However, the DeSoto wheelbase was shorter and the design was unpopular. While Chrysler offered both Airflow and standard models, the DeSoto was available only in an Airflow design. The Airflow design was a radical change in the way automobiles looked and performed. When asked if the public was ready for anything so radical, Mr. Chrysler replied: “I know the public is always ready for what it wants… and the public is always able to recognize genuine improvement.”
In Europe, the DeSoto Airflow was a major hit and European carmakers such as Volvo, Renault, and Peugeot began to copy the look. In the U.S., DeSoto sales dropped by 47%. In 1935, DeSoto returned to conventional styling and sales doubled.

Like all automakers, DeSoto production stopped during World War II. Following the war, DeSoto reissued the 1941 model as the 1946 model. In 1952, DeSoto addedthe Firedome with a 276-cid Hemi engine. In 1953, DeSoto dropped the Deluxe and Custom designations and designated its six-cylinder cars the Powermaster and its V-8 as the Firedome. In 1960, DeSoto production stopped shortly after the 1961 models were introduced. Nine DeSoto dealers in New Jersey, angered by the sudden cancellation of the DeSoto, filed suit against Chrysler Corporation. They eventually won their case.

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