When I first saw today’s featured DeSoto Firesweep Convertible on the lawn outside Goodwood House a couple of months ago my first thought was along the lines of “Wow ! a convertible Batmobile.”
This is the first DeSoto I recall ever seeing in the flesh and it would appear to me that Virgil Exner, who was responsible for the ‘forward look’ that graced the Chrysler Corp’s models across the Dodge, Plymouth, DeSoto and Chrysler brands, was himself influenced by the 1955 Lincoln Futura that became the 1965 Batmobile for the Batman TV series.
1958 Firesweeps were offered with six body options of which the rarest was the convertible with just 700 examples built.
One of the more interesting items on the 1958 DeSoto Options list, not fitted to this car so far as I know, was a 45rpm Hi Way Hi Fi record player, for which Chrysler also had a list of hits that could be ordered from the dealer.
In 1957 sales of the Firesweep totaled 40,000 so it must have come as a shock to DeSoto executives when sales of the 1958 Firesweeps with slightly larger and more powerful 5.7 litre / 350 cui 280 hp motors slumped to just 18,000 units.
There are numerous reasons why DeSoto sales slumped including a recession which saw unemployment in Detroit alone rise to 20% in 1958 and the same year also marked the end of the post war baby boom which would see US birth’s in decline for 11 consecutive years.
At the time of writing it appears today’s featured car, thought to be one of just twelve Firesweep convertibles known to remain, is being offered for sale by a dealer in the Netherlands, usual disclaimers, with advice to proceed with caution and plenty of your own research, apply.
Thanks for joining me on this “Sales Dipper” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !