The Smart Way to go Places
1959 was the last hoorah for DeSoto. Starting off the year was the great DeSoto Driveaway in Detroit to celebrate 30 years of DeSoto. Dealer owners, managers, representatives, etc. came in from all over the country for several days of entertainment and events that culminated with everyone driving away with a new 1959 DeSoto back to their dealership. The event was so big, the mayor of Detroit declared it “DeSoto Week”. Later in the year, DeSoto would also produce its 2,000,000th DeSoto, though oddly enough there are two different press photos supposedly showing the 2,000,000th DeSoto where one is clearly a white car and one is clearly a black car. Also exciting news for this year was a special spring Seville trim level (available on Firesweep and Firedome hardtops) with special interior and paint colors. In total, there were a staggering 22 unique model and body combinations available.
Platform-wide features introduced included swivel seats, air ride suspension, auto-dimming headlights, and auto-dimming (Mirrormatic) rear view mirror! Additionally, the Adventurer dual 4 bbl motor could be ordered on any 1959 DeSoto, which would be denoted by a small red, white, blue, and black rectangular badge on the front fender that read “Adventurer Powered”. Few of these cars were ever built, but it sure made for some interesting family sedans!
In addition to all the exciting things happening, this would be the last year for four distinct models (Firesweep, Firedome, Fireflite, and Adventurer) as Firesweep and Firedome would be dropped for 1960 and was also the last year DeSotos were manufactured in Los Angeles (only Firesweep models would be made there in 1959) in the Chrysler plant. It was also the last year for convertible and wagon body styles to be offered.
The National DeSoto Club maintains a registry for all known 1959 DeSotos. If you have one and would like it added to the list, please contact Bob Terpak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firesweep engines: 361 c.i. 2 bbl standard, 383 dual 4 bbl “Adventurer Powered” optional
Firedome engines: 383 c.i. 2 bbl standard, 383 dual 4 bbl “Adventurer Powered” optional
Fireflite engines: 383 c.i. 4 bbl standard, 383 dual 4 bbl “Adventurer Powered” optional
Adventurer engines: 383 c.i. dual 4 bbl standard
Wheelbase: Firesweep 122 inches, Firedome/Fireflite/Adventurer 126 inches
For the 1959 model year, Chrysler used a new simplified system for vehicle identification; a four unit prefix made up of year/make/series/plant of manufacture, followed by a 6-digit number starting at 100001 for each make/series/plant combination.
Example: M491100001 would be the first 1959 DeSoto Adventurer built and was assembled in the Jefferson plant.
Firesweep Convertibles Produced: 596
Firesweep 2-Door Hardtops Produced: 5,481 (includes Sportsman and Seville trim levels)
Firesweep 4-Door Hardtops Produced: 2,875 (includes Sportsman and Seville trim levels)
Firesweep 4-Door Sedans Produced: 9,649
Firesweep Explorer (9 Passenger) Wagons Produced: 1,179
Firesweep Shopper (6 Passenger) Wagons Produced: 1,064
Firedome 4-Door Sedans Produced: 9,171
Firedome 4-Door Hardtops Produced: 2,744 (includes Sportsman and Seville trim levels)
Firedome 2-Door Hardtops Produced: 2,862 (includes Sportsman and Seville trim levels)
Firedome Convertibles Produced: 299
Fireflite Shopper (6 Passenger) Wagons Produced: 271
Fireflite Explorer (9 Passenger) Wagons Produced: 433
Fireflite 4-Door Sedans Produced: 4,480
Fireflite 4-Door Hardtops Produced: 2,364
Fireflite 2-Door Hardtops Produced: 1,983
Fireflite Convertibles Produced: 283
Adventurer 2-Door Hardtops Produced: 602*
Adventurer Convertibles Produced: 97
*Adventurer production total may differ from other published figures. Research was done by NDC members Bob Terpak and the late Alan Ralston to establish that the actual total is 602 Adventurer hardtops. Adventurer VIN ending in 699 (602 hardtops + 97 convertibles) was found and this matches the production figures sent in a 1978 letter from Chrysler Corporation.
Source: The Plymouth and DeSoto Story by Don Butler, Chrysler Historical letter dated July 24, 1978 to Bob Terpak