Walter P Chrysler introduced the DeSoto marque in 1928 and it took off like you wouldn’t believe. By the end of the year 1,500 agencies were selling the 1929 model DeSoto Six of which more than 81,000 were built. The demand was growing fast as was its reputation for building fine automobiles. It isn’t a surprise that Chrysler Corporation dumped several million of its $15,000,000 programme for new dies and retooling for all its brands into the body alone of the 1939 DeSoto as it knew it would make the money back — and way more on top — but by the Fifties, trends were changing. Big inline-six family haulers were suddenly considered boring. Instead, an emerging horsepower race between Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Chrysler had begun, and it was during this decade that DeSoto produced some of its most memorable models, such as the ’56 Adventurer.
The fiery high-performance model, a sub-series of the top level DeSoto Fireflite, was decked out in an eye-catching black and gold paint job, and it stormed into the power competition. It hit 137mph [220kph] at Daytona Beach and scorched Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds at 144mph [238kph]. It was selected as the pace car for Pike’s Peak in 1956 and it paced the Indianapolis 500 with the words “DeSoto Sets The Pace” in big block letters on the doors. Neither Ford nor Chevy had an answer to the DeSoto with the Thunderbird and Corvette’s performance paling into insignificance.
The Adventurer, which had a heavy duty suspension, was blessed with enormous power thanks to its 341 cubic inch Hemi V8 with true dual exhausts. It made 320 horses, but this wasn’t just an all-out street brawler; it featured luxury items including a push button control Powerflite automatic transmission, power steering, power seats, power windows, power brakes, windshield washers and an electric clock. The interior was finished in high-quality materials and it had a padded dash, duel rear-view mirrors and dual radio antennas that sat proudly on top of the tailfins. DeSoto had initially built just 996 units that year and six weeks later, they’d all sold.
The model range grew when the hard-top was joined by a convertible in 1957, and a four-door saloon in its final year of 1960. Want one today? Then prepare to start the bargaining from Dh100,000.