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The DeSoto Motor Corporation
Division of Chrysler Corporation
In the 1940s came some improvement in DeSoto design including a longer 139.5 inch wheelbase. Chrysler’s Fluid Drive, which allowed the driver to start and stop without using the clutch became available on the 1940 DeSoto. The Custom Convertible Coupe was retained, but the Convertible Sedan was not.
DeSoto suffered a crippling strike at the start of the 1940 production year. Prices for the 1940 DeSoto ranged from $845.00 to $995.00. Production did increased 11,000 units to 65,500 units which was slightly more than the 1939 DeSoto.
In 1941, DeSoto sold more American Automobiles than any other year. Production in 1941 was at 97,000 units and put De Soto in 10th place among other auto makers in total sales. Success was owed to a heavy facelift which featured lower hoods and bolder fronts. The grille had “Teeth” that would remain a DeSoto trademark up to 1955.
1942 was another year for major restyling when DeSoto featured “Airfoil” hidden headlamps that were hidden except for night vision. Hidden headlamps first used on the 1936-1937 Cord were a first for the Chrysler Corporation. The grille was new and extended across the entire front. The engine used was a 115 horsepower six cylinder.
1942 DeSoto Model series included the S-10S Deluxe and S-10C Custom with 15 different body styles. 1942 body styles included the $1,000 Business Coupe, Club Coupe, Convertible Coupe, two door Sedan, four door Sedan, Town Sedan and a Limo.
1943-1945 DeSoto Goes To War
From early 1942 to 1945 DeSoto produced arms for the United States war effort, including parts for guns, bodies for bombers and vehicles parts. Most of DeSoto’s war years advertising included the statement “War Bonds Are Your Personal Investment For Victory”.
DeSoto returned to civilian automobile production in 1946. The drive train and chassis were the same as the 1942 models. Some restyling in body styles occurred in 1946. The DeSoto Suburban was new and the costliest of the all 46 DeSoto’s. The 1947 and 1948 DeSoto was based on the 1946 DeSoto. All wore a mild facelift of prewar DeSoto styling.
DeSoto was fully redesigned for 1949, as were other Chrysler makes. However, postwar styling was dull compared to GM and Ford. Styling was boxy and upright make the 1949 cars shorter looking. The lady hood ornament was replace by bust of Hernando DeSoto. Postwar inflation was affecting car prices all over including Desoto. In 1949 The DeSoto Motor Corporation produced a $3,000.00 woody wagon that had an all steel body. The Suburban was up over $500.00. Overall, 1949 was less than spectacular with volume at about 92,500 units. Sales of the S-13-2 Custom out performed the S-11S DeLuxe which was a sign that for 1950 the consumer wanted greater luxury.