1941 was a year of preparation for war and with that came the beginning of material and resource reallocation, which contributed to sales prices of the DeSoto cars increasing over the course of the model year. Continuing with the Deluxe (S8-S) and Custom (S8-C) models, the new cars were a nearly all-new body, with the most notable changes coming up front. The grille was a little wider with vertical bars instead of the previous horizontal version. On the leading edge of the hood, 3 horizontal bars were added. Most notably, the parking lights were added directly to the top of the headlight surrounds. On the sides, door handles were moved up to the belt moulding and door hinges were all concealed except for the lower hinges on the rear doors of the 4 door sedans. Gone also was the x-braced frame that had been touted since the introduction as a feature in 1932. Overall length was increased 5.5 inches, width increased 2.25 inches, height decreased 1.5 inches, wheelbase decreased 1 inch for the shorter chassis, and weight increased by 121 pounds.
Big news for this year was the addition of the Fluid Drive coupling unit and Simplimatic transmission, the first semi-automatic transmission available in a DeSoto. This combo provided smooth power with accelerator-actuated automatic shifting. A new compression ratio increased horsepower from 100 to 105, with the aluminum head version of the engine being 110 horsepower. Also returning this year was the Town Sedan body, which had a special body design where the rear doors cut into the rear fenders, opened from the rear, and included vent windows. Added to the Custom line in March was the Sportsman Club Coupe, which featured an interior with seats and side panels similar to the convertible. Armrests were included in the rear, leather was prevalent on the seats, and a special steering wheel was used.
The National DeSoto Club also maintains a registry for all known 1941 DeSotos. If you have one and would like it added to the list, or would like the data plate decoded, please contact Dean Mullinax at email@example.com.
Engine: 228 c.i. 6 cylinder, 105 hp standard, 110 hp with aluminum head
Wheelbase: 121.5 inches (standard), 139.5 (7+ passenger cars)
Deluxe VIN Start: 6096001
Deluxe VIN End: 6141720
Custom VIN Start: 5720401
Custom VIN End: 5770981
Deluxe 4-Door 6-Passenger Sedans Produced: 26,417
Deluxe 4-Door 7-Passenger Sedans Produced: 101
Deluxe Club Coupes Produced: 5,603
Deluxe 2 Door Sedans Produced: 9,228
Deluxe Business Coupes Produced: 4,449
Custom 4-Door Town Sedans Produced: 4,362
Custom 4-Door 6-Passenger Sedans Produced: 30,876
Custom 4-Door 7-Passenger Sedans Produced: 120
Custom 7-Passenger Limousines Produced: 35
Custom Club Coupes Produced: 6,726
Custom Brougham 2-Door Sedans Produced: 4,609
Custom Business Coupes Produced: 2,033
Custom Convertibles Produced: 2,937
Source: The Plymouth and DeSoto Story by Don Butler