The 1950s saw the emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll, with the new sounds of Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly sweeping across a booming America. The movie theatres were packed with punters looking for a glimpse at their big screen icons like John Wayne, Grace Kelly, and Marilyn Monroe. Televisions were now something the average family could afford in their new house, courtesy of the suburban boom.
U.S. car production in the 1950s exceeded that of many other nations across the globe and the “fabulous fifties” also saw some of the most beautiful and outlandish cars ever made. Out with the humdrum of old and in with copious chrome, big wings, turbines, afterburner tail-lights and grill teeth.
Synonymous with an era of excess and style, 1950s cars are on the wish list of many a classic car enthusiast and collector. One such example, representative of that time, is this beautiful 1953 DeSoto Firedome.
Thought to be only one of seven remaining in the world and the only one believed to be in Europe, this rare 2-door, V8 Hemi-powered DeSoto Firedome Club Coupe is an opportunity to be the custodian of something truly special.
The DeSoto Firedome first appeared in 1952, powered by the shared Hemi V-8 available in other Chryslers of the period. The 4525cc (276ci) engine generated 160 hp propelling the Firedome to 60mph in 15.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 100mph, through its four-speed automatic gearbox.
It was available in several model variations, including a convertible, station wagon, six and eight passenger sedans (saloon), a hardtop coupe, or as in this case, a club coupe.
The eye-catching 1953 Firedome Club Coupe we have here, is finished in Arizona Beige and upholstered with a striped brown cloth interior. It began life in the Golden State of California, where its first owner, a Southern Pacific railway engineer, covered 47,000 miles up until 1977. It changed hands in the US, before being imported to the UK in 1988. Its first UK owner was a former paramedic turned outdoor walking writer (as is evident in the car’s extensive history documentation).
The car has been the recipient of many awards and trophies, including ‘car of the show’, ‘American car winner’ and on several occasions was featured in magazines such as 'Classic American' and 'Cumbria Life'.
The current owner acquired the car in early 2016 from a private car collection, and has since kept the Firedome garaged, well maintained and has enjoyed attending classic car and American shows.
To say that the owners across the lifetime of this car have been meticulous, is an understatement. The extensive accompanying documentation is vast and builds the story of the vehicle’s journey through the decades. This includes the original sales invoice from Dalton Motors, Sacramento, California. The car’s specification and associated costs, tax and fees make interesting nostalgic reading. No charge for white walls!
Additionally, the history file includes original DeSoto sales literature, handbooks, workshop manual and the charming inclusion of a small handwritten notebook listing many changes and maintenance carried out by previous owners.
The interior is a real masterclass in styling and fine finish. Chrome is plentiful and the switches, gauges, clock and dials are individual works of art. The steering wheel, leavers and radio are equally atheistic masterpieces. The condition of the entire dash is sublime, and you’d be forgiven if you were significantly distracted before driving off.
The upholstery in its brown and thin red striping is delightfully basic and reflective of the period. Condition again is excellent, with the only notable area for improvement being a section of the driver’s side floor carpet. The headlining is in unmarked original condition.
All handles, woodwork and glass are largely in great condition, a result of years of cherished ownership.
You could genuinely spend significant time just sitting in this car, admiring the interior without actually driving anywhere.
The Firedome is particularly representative of the 1950s era of car design, with its curves and lines drawing your eye across every inch of its attractive exterior. Chrome badging, trim, mirrors and bumpers, light surrounds and of course that teeth grill are such an appealing aspect to this Hemi V8 coupe. With some signs of pitting as expected for original chrome, the brightwork truly sets off the paintwork, which was fully resprayed back in 1986 and still looks great today.
The underside is seemingly very solid and has been protected at some stage in its life but does show some signs of surface corrosion commensurate with its age.
The wheels with their chrome hubcaps and white wall tyres finish the striking exterior. Both rims and tyres appear in good shape with plenty of tread.
Overall, the car is an absolute head-turner, and the condition throughout compliments the vehicle’s rarity.
This matching-numbers Firedome has a well-documented and well maintained Hemi V8, which burbles as it should, forcing you to stop in your tracks and listen to its soundtrack.
The engine bay as a whole presents extremely well, with the current owner noting a new loom with period correct fabric wiring, new radiator core and a full service and tune up when he first acquired it. The result is a smooth-running motor and the car drives and stops with no suspect noises. Steering is light and manoeuvring is surprisingly easy, given the size of the car.
The owner states that the car has remained a reliable, easy and rewarding drive throughout his tenure.
It is not difficult to see why this Firedome has numerous accolades to its name and has been the pride and joy of each of its meticulous owners. It typifies the golden age of 1950s American motoring. The styling is nothing short of bold and beautiful.
If you’re into Americana, the vintage lifestyle or just fancy something truly rare then this DeSoto will tick all of those boxes with ease. There’s room to further improve the car in some areas or put your personal taste into it, but the current state and condition mean it is equally ready to just drive and enjoy.
Get ready to hit the diner or the drive-in movies for an authentic fantastic fifties experience!
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