in the beginning…

In the beginning there was a DeSoto in a guys front yard…that was 14 or so years ago. Boy does time fly.

The car sat around for a few years. I wasn’t sure where to begin, I also had no idea what I was getting into. Eventually I grew tired of looking at it and needed to decide whether to sell it or build it. I put it up for sale a few times but project cars are very difficult to sell unless you are giving them away. I had done enough research on the car to know how rare it was, and what is rare has value.

I found the car about twenty minutes from where I live. Brad, a friend had told me about it. I met Brad at a local car show, and ended up featuring his ’32 Ford Roadster in our very first Speed & Chrome issue. He has a beautiful black flathead powered fenderless roadster. I had no idea what it was when I saw it. All I knew was it was very complete, a two-door hardtop and it had a Hemi in it. What more did I need to know right? We made the deal and I drug it home.

What is a desoto?

While I’d heard of a DeSoto, I knew nothing about them. Brad was just interested in the Hemi for another ’32 project, but the guy wanted to sell it complete and not part it out. The car had been sitting for many years and it showed, the last tag on the rear plate was 1969. DMV wouldn’t let me keep the plates as there wasn’t any papers on the car. But, I still have them.

After getting it home I had to research it to see what in the world it was. The model is a Firedome (Hemi) Sportsman (two-door hardtop). I found out that the production numbers were pretty low and it was a pretty rare car. The two-door hardtops are the same body as the convertibles, with just a top welded on. Also, I learned later that many of the parts are specific to those two models, the very common four door and two-door post cars are completely different in many ways. Not good when your trying to find parts.

Initially my thoughts were to just get it on the road as quick and cheap as possible, and looking back now, I should have redone the mechanicals and ran it as is. But, at the time I started working on it, patina’d cars were not in style and after owning it now for fourteen years or so, I’ve still yet to drive it. Pretty dang sad. 

Disc brakes were added, huge 12” rotors off a 3/4 Chevy truck were added to the front. I worked closely with Roger at AAJ brakes up in Oregon to get them sorted out. He built me a new pedal mount assembly. The original pedals mounted to the original single master cyl. which doesn’t work so well when you need to swap it out. Roger built a new assembly which mounted the brake pedals and also allowed me to upgrade to a modern dual reservoir master cyl.