Sunday, my mom and I went to our last doll show of the year, the Chicago Toy Show. Held twice a year, this show is now in its 45th year! At the show, we saw a variety of dolls and toys. Like April’s show, the doll vendors were split between two different buildings. The new layout isn’t helpful to the vendors or shoppers, to be honest. One of the dedicated doll rooms could be easily missed due to lack of signage …..

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Posted by on MonAmerica/Phoenix2019-03-18T13:13:12-07:00America/Phoenix03bAmerica/PhoenixMon, 18 Mar 2019 13:13:12 -0700 31, in historic, nostalgic, vintage products



“Big Bopper – Chantilly Lace”


Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson, Jr. (October 24, 1930 – February 3, 1959), commonly known as The Big Bopper, was an American musician, songwriter, and disc jockey, whose big rockabilly look, style, voice, and exuberant personality made him an early rock and roll star. He is best known for his 1958 recording of “Chantilly Lace”.[1]

On February 3, 1959, Richardson died in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa, along with music stars Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, and pilot Roger Peterson. That event has become known as “The Day the Music Died” because it is so called in Don McLean’s 1971 song “American Pie”.[2][3]


J. P. Richardson was born in Sabine Pass, Texas, the oldest son of oil-field worker Jiles Perry Richardson, Sr. and his wife Elise (Stalsby) Richardson. Richardson had two younger brothers, Cecil and James. The family soon moved to Beaumont, Texas. Richardson graduated from Beaumont High School in 1947 and played on the “Royal Purple” football team as a defensive lineman, wearing number 85.[4] Richardson later studied prelaw at Lamar College, and was a member of the band and chorus.

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Posted by on MonAmerica/Phoenix2019-03-18T11:46:37-07:00America/Phoenix03bAmerica/PhoenixMon, 18 Mar 2019 11:46:37 -0700 31, in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, billboard, classic music, nostalgic



‘The Real Gidget’

‘The Real Gidget’

Gidget gave imagination to mind of every young American girl who grew up during the 1950s and 1960s. The trending ideal was, “who the most popular girl on the beach scene” and a “knock out” babe for all of the young, handsome beach bodies?

Looking back on those idolized thoughts of being Gidget is clarified. Television has always been prominent as a seductive medium.

A class assignment or leisure library read on Gidge have been rare. After all it offers more than just the pictorial of books or broadcast sounds. Television featured programs gave s ounds with moving pictures. Imagination was captivated and and. emotions carried episode after episode. The programmings of Gidget, even with the overlapping change of the stars and casts idolizing viewers so that they followed each episode unquestionably.

  • 41 Kathy Kohner born.
  • 1956 Kathy Kohner learns to surf and is nicknamed “Gidget”.
  • 1957 Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas published.
  • 1959 Motion picture Gidget released,Cher Papa published.
  • 1961 Motion picture Gidget Goes Hawaiian released, novelization Gidget Goes Hawaiian published.
  • 1963 The Affairs of Gidget published, motion picture Gidget Goes to Romereleased, novelization Gidget Goes to Rome published.
  • 1965 Gidget in Love published, sitcom series Gidget first airs.
  • 1966 Gidget Goes Parisiennepublished, sitcom series Gidgetcanceled.
  • 1968 Gidget Goes New Yorkpublished.
  • 1969 Telemovie Gidget Grows Up airs.
  • 1972 Telemovie Gidget Gets Marriedairs, animated feature Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection airs.
  • 1985 Telemovie Gidget’s Summer Reunion airs.
  • 1986 Frederick Kohner dies, sitcom series The New Gidget airs.
  • 1988 Sitcom series The New Gidget canceled.

Gidget is a fictional character created by author Frederick Kohner(based on his teenage daughter, Kathy) in his 1957 novel, Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas. The novel follows the adventures of a teenage girl and her surfing friends on the beach in Malibu. The name Gidget is a portmanteau of “girl” and “midget”. Following the novel’s publication, the character appeared in several films, television series and television movies.article source

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Posted by on MonAmerica/Phoenix2019-03-18T10:09:49-07:00America/Phoenix03bAmerica/PhoenixMon, 18 Mar 2019 10:09:49 -0700 31, in classic television, nostalgic


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Whatever Happened To ‘MY THREE SONS’

Whatever Happened To ‘MY THREE SONS’


My Three Sons is an American sitcom. The series ran from 1960 to 1965 on ABC, and moved to CBS until the end of its run on April 13, 1972. My Three Sons chronicles the life of widower and aeronautical engineer Steven Douglas (Fred MacMurray) as he raises his three sons.


  • Fred MacMurray – Steve Douglas
  • Stanley Livingston – Chip Douglas
  • Don Grady – Robbie Douglas
  • Barry Livingston – Ernie Thompson Douglas
  • William Demarest – Uncle Charley O’Casey
  • Tim Considine – Mike Douglas
  • William Frawley – Michael Francis ‘Bub’ O’Casey
  • Tina Cole – Katie Miller Douglas
  • Beverly Garland – Barbara Harper Douglas
  • Dawn Lyn – Dodie Harper Douglas
  • Meredith MacRae – Sally Ann Morrison
  • Butch Patrick – Gordon Dearing
  • Doris Singleton – Margaret Williams
  • Victoria Paige Meyerink – Margaret Spencer
  • Betty Lynn – Janet Dawson
  • Benson Fong – Ray Wong
  • Jodie Foster – Priscilla Hobson
  • Sidney Clute – Bert Henderson
  • Beau Bridges – Russ Burton
  • Susan Gordon – Eloise Patterson
  • Marta Kristen – Linda Francis



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Posted by on MonAmerica/Phoenix2019-03-18T10:04:29-07:00America/Phoenix03bAmerica/PhoenixMon, 18 Mar 2019 10:04:29 -0700 31, in classic television, nostalgic




Ben Casey is an American medical drama series which ran on ABC from 1961 to 1966. The show was known for its opening titles, which consisted of a hand drawing the symbols “♂, ♀, ✳, †, ∞” on a chalkboard, as cast member Sam Jaffe intoned, “Man, woman, birth, death, infinity.”[1] Neurosurgeon Joseph Ransohoff was a medical consultant for the show and may have influenced the personality of the title character.

The series starred Vince Edwards (credited as Vincent Edwards) as medical doctor Ben Casey, a young, intense but idealistic surgeon at County General Hospital. His mentor was Doctor David Zorba, played by Sam Jaffe. The show began running multi-episode stories, starting with the first five episodes of Season 4; Casey developed a romantic relationship with Jane Hancock (Stella Stevens), who had just emerged from a coma after fifteen years. At the beginning of Season 5 (the last season), Jaffe left the show and Franchot Tone replaced Zorba as new Chief of Neurosurgery, Doctor Daniel Niles Freeland.

Vincent Edwards as Dr. Ben Casey

Sam Jaffe as Dr. David Zorba (1961-1965)

Harry Landers as Dr. Ted Hoffman

Bettye Ackerman as Dr. Maggie Graham (In real life, Bettye Ackerman was married to Sam Jaffe.)

Nick Dennis as Orderly Nick Kanavaras

Jeanne Bates as Nurse Wills

Franchot Tone as Dr. Daniel Niles Freeland (1965-1966)


Posted by on MonAmerica/Phoenix2019-03-18T09:48:20-07:00America/Phoenix03bAmerica/PhoenixMon, 18 Mar 2019 09:48:20 -0700 31, in nostalgic, vintage tv shows





I’m in Love Again” is a 1956 single byFats Domino. The song was written by Domino and his longtime collaborator,Dave Bartholomew. The single was Domino’s third number one on the R&B Best Sellers list, where it stayed at the top for seven weeks. “I’m in Love Again” also peaked at number three for two weeks on the pop chart. “I’m in Love Again” was a double-sided hit for Domino as the B-side of the pop standard, “My Blue Heaven“.


Posted by on MonAmerica/Phoenix2019-03-18T09:35:42-07:00America/Phoenix03bAmerica/PhoenixMon, 18 Mar 2019 09:35:42 -0700 31, in classic music, nostalgic, r&b


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Desotos (part 3) Post War

by Dave Duricy. Used by permission. For more photos and DeSoto information, see Dave’s excellent DeSotoLand web site.

Postwar DeSoto cars

When civilian automobile production resumed late in 1945, customers returned the favor of DeSoto’s patriotism by flocking to its show rooms. “Demand,” said DeSoto, “is so great that in spite of all our efforts some delay may be necessary before your dealer can make delivery to you.”

Material shortages and labor strife contributed to DeSoto’s inability to fill orders. However, it was true that a segment of car starved America didn’t just want new cars, it wanted new DeSotos. 1946 DeSoto promotions joyfully bragged “8 out of 10 want DeSoto again.” The boast was based on a survey of 1941 and 1942 DeSoto owners.

Demand peaked with the 1950 DeSoto.

1950 DeSotos were handsome machines with wide chromium grins and strong correct lines. They were huge cars, bigger than Mercurys, Pontiacs, Oldsmobile 88s, Buick Supers, and the Packard Eights. There was even a new model to strut DeSoto’s many virtues, the Custom Sportsman hardtop coupe.

Hardtops are virtually unknown today, but they were a profitable phenomenon during the fifties. By definition, a hardtop is a car with a steel top in the manner of a sedan, but lacking door posts. They were, in essence, convertibles with non-retractable solid tops. The body style provided a better view from the inside and made even the biggest American cars appear sportier on the outside.

Like General Motors’ hardtops, DeSoto’s Sportsman delivered a special look. Its wrap around rear window and “V” shaped rear roof pillars created a care-free character that had previously been found only in DeSoto convertibles. The Sportsman also came standard with wide whitewall tires, full wheelcovers, and exclusive interior details.

DeSoto on display

DeSoto’s Sportsman shared many curious characteristics with other Custom models. For instance, the majestic bust of Hernando deSoto on the hood could be fitted with a carefully detailed plastic face. Behind Hernando’s stern expression was a small bulb that illuminated the Spaniard whenever dash lights and headlights or parking lights were turned on. The dash lightsthemselves were unusual. Concealed bulbs in dark glass spheres set the control panel’s pale green numerals aglow with an unearthly purple glimmer.

Aside from its premier pillarless car, DeSoto’s other 1950 talking points were roomy interiors with chair high seats and DeSoto’s smooth ride. One advertisement showed an enthusiastic DeSoto passenger asking the proud driver, “New road?” To which was replied, “No, new DeSoto!”

Sales rocketed 42% over 1949 and production reached a record setting high of 133,854. Never had DeSoto moved so many cars during a model year. Unbeknownst to DeSoto, it never would again. DeSoto sailed into a doldrums from which even the new 1952 FireDome V8 couldn’t rescue it.

Click here for our 1951 DeSoto Suburban review – based on 20 years of experience!

1951 DeSoto

The horsepower race: Firedome, Adventurer, and others

DeSoto logo

During the late Forties and early Fifties, new V-eight engines from Cadillac, Chrysler and Oldsmobile were at the forefront of an emerging horsepower race. Large family cars with inline sixes, like DeSoto, were becoming passe.

DeSoto answered the challenge with FireDome, a sparkling, hemi-head V8powering a new carline by the same name.

DeSoto Firedome V8 ad

FireDome eclipsed its bigger Chrysler Firepower brother by delivering more road horsepower per cubic inch displacement than any other motor. FireDome cut four seconds from the time last year’s DeSoto needed to travel from 0-60. Top speed was increased to 100mph.

What astonished everyone was how effortlessly FireDome produced its 160 hp at 4,400 rpm. The 1952 Oldsmobile Supper 88 V8, considered by many of the day to be a paradigm of performance, required 303 cubic inches, 7.5:1 compression, a four barrel carburetor and premium gasoline to make 160 horsepower. The DeSoto FireDome needed only 276.1 cubic inches, 7.0:1 compression, a two barrel carburetor, and regular gasoline for the same 160hp. In addition, FireDome’s hemi-head limited pinging and resisted power robbing combustion chamber deposits.

DeSoto was overly modest about the FireDome. One 1952 DeSoto television advertisement chose not to mention the V8. Instead, the commercial pictured a stark, black, six cylinder DeSoto sedan that the announcer described as having chair high seats, plenty of interior room, and a smooth ride thanks to Oriflow shock absorbers. A happy family piled into the DeSoto and rode away smiling.

1957 DeSoto

Regardless of the 45,830 DeSoto FireDomes that were built, overall DeSoto production had fallen from a disappointing 106,000 (est) in 1951, to an abysmal 88,000 (est) in 1952. That same year, Chrysler Corporation was overtaken by Ford as the country’s second most prolific auto maker. Labor problems and war production priorities were partly to blame.

The restyled 1953 DeSotos were the kind of DeSotos people remember best. They were big, covered with chrome, and extraordinarily plush. “Motor Trend” magazine wrote a glowing road report about the 1953 FireDome sedan. The six passenger car was described as “a desirable family car” and powered by an engine with “high performance characteristics.”

“Motor Trend” hurled its 4,120 pound FireDome from 0-60 in 15.5 seconds, nearly 5 seconds faster than the similarly priced Kaiser Manhattan tested in the same issue. Of course, the 600 pound lighter Kaiser was hindered by its 118hp six. Performance enthusiasts wondered what DeSoto’s V8 would be capable of in a lighter, more aerodynamic body.

DeSoto gave a strong hint with a two-door show car called Adventurer.

Advanced styling and Hemi power; PowerFlite, Fireflite


DeSoto suddenly changed in 1955; so much so even Betty Grable was forced to stop and stare. She and husband Harry James, with Groucho Marx hiding in the back seat, appeared on national television extolling the virtues of the “Styled for Tomorrow” 1955 DeSoto.

See DeSoto: the 1950s cars

“Jumping Citations!” exclaimed horse enthusiast Harry at his first glance. “It ought to be great in the stretch. I know a thoroughbred when I see one.” Betty agreed, and explained to her husband that the new top-line Fireflite’s V8 was the equivalent of 200 Native Dancers.

DeSoto had power styling to go with its hemi power. DeSoto was longer, wider, and sleeker than any previously. It was also more colorful. DeSoto Fireflites and Firedomes could be dressed up with enormous, fang-shaped color panels that were standard on the Fireflite convertible and hardtop. DeSoto even introduced one of the earliest three tone paintjobs on the 1955 Coronado springspecial. The loaded $3,151 sedanwas resplendent in white, turquoise, and black.

firedome coronado

DeSoto was equally new on the inside. PowerFlite automatic was operated by an intriguing Flite-Control lever mounted on the dashboard. The dashboard was dramatically styled with a dual cockpit gull wing theme. Even the view out was improved with DeSoto’s first wrap around windshield.

Riding in a 1955 DeSoto was an experience. The engine was whisper quite and the ride extra smooth. There seemed to be miles between the driver and front seat passenger. Everywhere, there was quality whether it was the Fireflite Sportsman’s leather upholstery or the Firedome’s glossy dashboard. A ’55 DeSoto was sure to please even the most jaded consumer.

1955 DeSoto Coronado

Of course, sales were high. 114,765 DeSotos found happy owners for the 1955 model year. The calendar year total of 131,753 was the best since 1946.

Then something curious happened. The auto industry experienced a significant downturn in 1956. Oldsmobile lost over 97,000 sales, Buick more than 100,000 and Pontiac nearly 150,000. At Chrysler Corporation, Dodge sales eased by 36,000 cars and Chrysler sales by 24,000. DeSoto, however, built nearly as many cars in 1956 as it had in 1955. Model year production totaled 110,418, only 4,347 cars fewer than 1955. To top it off, more DeSotos than Chryslers were registered that year and DeSoto climbed to 11th place in the industry. Regardless, five years later DeSoto would be canceled.

1956 DeSoto Firedome

desoto coronado

fireflite coronado

The dynamics of DeSoto’s demise were already in motion. Top management at Chrysler Corporation suggested Chrysler Division drop its bottom line Windsor to allow more room for DeSoto. Chrysler Division protested. Since 1946, Chrysler had fostered its low end products, and by 1956 had two-thirds of its volume provided by Windsor. Besides, Chrysler no longer had the option of moving up-market. The majestic Imperial was set off as a separate make in 1955 to compete with Cadillac and Lincoln. Having put itself in a difficult place, Chrysler would make no concession to DeSoto.

DeSoto Fireflite

In 1956, DeSoto didn’t need Chrysler’s charity. The line was DeSoto’s most formidable ever with new tailfin styling, DeSoto’s first four doorhardtop, and a fiery high performance two-door called Adventurer.

1956 DeSoto Adventurer

Like a brilliant avenging angle with her wings out stretched, the golden Adventurer stormed into the horsepower race. The finned hardtop colossus scorched Daytona Beach at 137 miles per hour, and surged through Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds banked oval at 144 miles per hour. It even leapt the height of Pike’s Peak serving as pace car for the year’s competition climb. Nothing from the opposition, not the Thunderbird, Corvette, or Studebaker’s Golden Hawk, could match the Adventurer’s enormous power and high top speed.

Adventurer’s motivation was an enlarged DeSoto hemi sized at 341.4 cubic inches. Horsepower was rated at 320, which was more than any other engine offered in DeSoto’s price class.

Adventurer achieved its stunning performance without sacrificing luxury. Standard equipment included push button control Powerflite automatic, power steering, power seat, power windows, power brakes, windshield washers and electric clock. On top of these, the Adventurer delivered a custom interior with padded dash, dual rear view mirrorsand dual radio antennas atop the fins.

dave tyjeski, chrysler parts man and plant worker

As was true with legions of DeSotos before it, the Adventurer was a lot of car for the money. It came with more glitter, more features, comparable performance, and a marginally better power to weight ratio than the base Chrysler 300. Yet, the DeSoto cost $567 less. In six weeks following the Adventurer’s February 18 introduction, all 996 examples built sold at $3,678 apiece.

In a rare extroverted moment, DeSoto flaunted its many virtues by pacing the 1956 Indianapolis 500. The DeSoto chosen for the duty was a shimmering gold and white Fireflite convertible decorated with Adventurer trim. While most onlookers mistook the modified Fireflite to be an Adventurer convertible, they couldn’t mistake the brand. “DeSoto” was painted on the doors in large block letters and signs on the raceway proudly declared “DeSoto Sets the Pace.”

1956 DeSoto rear

DeSoto’s slogan was no joke. The DeSoto pace car was a fire-breather equipped with the Adventurer’s engine. With DeSoto Division president L. Irving Woolson at the wheel, the DeSoto pace car broke all previous pace car lap speed records. The convertible was doing better than 100 miles per hour when it left the racers.
The exotic Adventurer aside, the DeSoto Fireflite came with more standard horsepower than most cars in its category. At 255 hp, the Fireflite V8 was more robust than anything from Mercury, Oldsmobile, or Pontiac, and equal to Buick’s biggest engine. Zero to 60 took an effortless 10.9 seconds and the top speed was 110 miles per hour.

Back in the fifties, automotive evolution progressed at a frantic pace with car manufactures bringing out new models every two or three years. DeSoto was due for something new in 1957, but no one could have predicted how new the 1957 DeSotos turned out to be.

Space-age DeSoto cars: 1957 and on

virgil exner

1957 DeSoto television commercials merrily sang, “The most exciting car today is now delighting the far highway. It’s DELOVELY! It’s DYNAMIC! It’s DeSOTO!” The jingle didn’t exaggerate. The 1957 DeSotos were amazing cars, perfect for the space age.

In fact, the new DeSoto had every appearance of being able to fly. Huge tail fins soared majestically from the rear fenders and terminated at a set of triple lens rocket launcher taillights. An illusion of jet propulsion was created by dual oval exhaustports in the back bumper. On cold mornings, DeSotos left convincing vapor trails.

Credit for DeSoto’s appearance goes to Virgil Exner, Chrysler Corporation’s head stylist and perhaps the post war era’s most gifted designer.

Unlike other cars of the day, the 1957 DeSotos were slim. They were fascinating visions of an aerodynamic future. The fins actually served a purpose. They increased stability at high speed and reduced the effects of wind buffeting.

Stability was more important than ever, for beneath the 1957 Adventurer’s sleek new hood was America’s first standard equipment engine producing one horse powerfor every cubic inch of displacement. Three hundred and forty-five horses bolted from 345 cubic inches at 5,200 rpm.

Those horses were harnessed to Chrysler Corporation’s new TorqueFlite three speed automatic transmission. Though the unit was among the best in smoothness of operation and efficiency, it was the futuristic push-button controls that kept America talking. It seemed almost insignificant that DeSotos also came with Torsion-Aire torsion bar front suspension – a giant leap forward in riding comfort and handling.

The 1957 DeSoto line was the biggest in the make’s then-28 year history. The DeSoto Adventurer became available as a convertible as well as a hardtop. Station wagons appeared in the Fireflite series. A new Firesweep nameplate was added at the bottom of the DeSoto price ladder. Firesweep offered three cars costing less than $3,000 in addition to DeSoto’s least expensive wagons.

DeSoto’s triple punch of styling, performance, and price made 1957 a memorable model year. As sales at Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac plummeted, DeSoto gained by 7,096 units. 117,514 DeSotos were built for the model year.

1957 desoto firesweep

1957 was a good time for DeSoto. It was also a tragedy. Corporation-wide quality problems resulted in some horribly built cars. It’s said that DeSoto four door hardtops built at Los Angeles leaked so badly in the rain that occupants were wise to exit the car to avoid drowning. One 1957 DeSoto Adventurer was incapacitated for four of the total 18 months it was owned by its first owner. The car went through four transmissions, three power steering units, two new double point distributors, new valveguides and a new radiator. Reportedly, it took considerable effort and the attention of Chrysler’s Chairman of the Board to have the car corrected.

firesweep tailfins

Stories like these and a propensity for early rust angered DeSoto’s traditional clientele. DeSoto had always been a well-built car until 1957. Worse, those who had never bought a DeSoto before resented the car’s inability to live up to appearances.

Quality control was a problem throughout Detroit in the late fifties. However, the sin seemed greater at DeSoto in light of the make’s previous high standards.

Predictably, customers didn’t return to DeSoto show rooms for 1958. Making matters worse was a recession. Unemployment topped 5.1 million meaning fewer people could afford a new DeSoto. Indeed, better mid-priced cars were sorely hit. General Motor’s B-O-P trio declined for the third straight year. The new Edsel, Ford Motor Company’s naive foray into Dodge and Pontiac’s territory, met a cold 63,000 unit reception amidst enormous publicity. Mercury declined. Hudson and Nashwere gone altogether.

DeSoto delivered an improved product that year. The cars were consistently better built. A lighter weight, less expensive wedge-head V8 replaced the heavy, complicated hemi. Performance increased. A DeSoto Firedome with the optional 305hp, 361 cubic inch V8 flew from zero to sixty in 7.7 seconds. Top speed was 115 miles per hour.

1958 DeSoto

Ironically, as DeSoto struggled to regain buyers, the high profile Adventurer embarrassed itself with an engineering blunder. For $637.20, performance enthusiasts could boostthe Adventurer’s 345 hp to 355 hp via Bendix electronic fuel injection. Though futuristic, the system proved nearly inoperable and most all Bendix EFI cars were recalled and fitted with dual four barrel carburetors. The unfortunate occurrence gave ammunition to those who found the wedge-head engine an inadequate successor to the hemi. [Read about the DeSoto Electrojet.]

As DeSoto production dived nearly 70%, Chrysler Corporation panicked. DeSoto was unceremoniously yanked from the Wyoming Ave. assembly plant it had occupied since 1936. From July 1958 forward, senior DeSotos would be built alongside Chryslers on Jefferson Ave.

If management was ready to write off DeSoto, the styling department wasn’t. In May of 1959, a radical prototype emerged from Virgil Exner’s “back room” studio. It was a convertible with an aggressive new interpretation of the Forward Look. The hood was noticeably longer than the trunk and accentuated by menacing fender blades. It had no fins, but rather sculpted quarter panels and a smooth sloping trunk. Significantly, the nameplate on the hood proudly read “DeSoto.” The concept was dubbed the S-series and approved for the coming 1962 model year change. Chrysler’s other brands were instructed to take their inspiration from the new DeSoto.

Meanwhile, DeSoto offered its most flamboyant cars ever. 1959 Firesweeps, Firedomes, and Fireflites were available in any of twenty-six solid colors or 190 two-tone combinations. All DeSotos wore a triple air scoop front bumper along with a fine mesh grill. The Adventurer, complete with gold sweep spears and chrome streaks on the trunk lid, provided swiveling front seats to make entry and exit from the low ridding performance car easier.

1959 DeSoto Fireflight Sportsman

For all the glitter, 1959 was a dubious year production wise. Almost 6,000 more DeSotos were built for the calendar year, but model year production fell again. At 45,724 cars, DeSoto was one of only two manufacturers to score lower sales in 1959 than in 1958. Simultaneously, DeSoto celebrated its thirtieth anniversary and built the two-millionth DeSoto.

The end of DeSoto

1960 DeSoto

The 1960 DeSoto line-up told the tale.

The Firesweep and venerable Firedome lines were dropped. Station wagons and convertibles disappeared. The once glamorous limited edition Adventurer was demoted to Fireflite status. Fireflite in turn was pushed down to replace Firedome.

Although they were few, the 1960 DeSotos were good. Both Fireflite and Adventurer boasted Chrysler Corporation’s new Unibody construction. Along with Unibody came sounder build quality and an elaborate seven step rust proofing process. Drivetrains remained exemplary.

Newly optional was a Ram Charge V8. The 383 cid motor used twin four barrel carburetors perched atop ram-induction tubes. The tubesaccelerated intake velocity at certain R.P.M. creating a turbo-like horsepower boost. The induction system was matched by dual exhausts. DeSoto thoughtfully provided 12 inch brakes.

The Ram Charge option was available only on the Adventurer, which already delivered 305hp. Fireflite customers had to be content with 295 hp.

At the corporate level, scandal hinted at the mismanagement that debilitated DeSoto. William C. Newberg, who had been with Chrysler for nearly 30 years, became president of Chrysler Corporation April 28, 1960 when L. L. “Tex” Colbert stepped down. That June, Colbert’s carefully groomed successor was fired by Chrysler’s Board of Directors. Newberg was said to have had financial holdings in companies which supplied Chrysler Corporation. Newberg’s removal was followed by other resignations and a year-long battle.

The primary victim was DeSoto(though Plymouth did not escape). As Chrysler collapsed on itself, the stunning S-series DeSoto prototype and its Chrysler offshoots were canceled. Suddenly, DeSoto had no future.

Sales of the 1960 models were understandably low. Chrysler Corporation had done everything possible to weaken DeSoto’s position. For the 1960 model year, 25,581 were built. It was the worst model year since 1934, but it wasn’t the last. Half-heartedly, a 1961 DeSoto was introduced October 14, 1960. Set up to fail, it was the last DeSoto.

The 1961 model wasn’t granted the courtesy of a model name. It was simply dubbed DeSoto. What buyers existed were given a choice of only two body styles – a two door hardtop and a four door hardtop. Both wore full length chrome spears along their sides and shared a uniquely styled front end. They held little visual link to past DeSotos though the name was prominently displayed in the upper secondary grille and along the trunk lid.

Like the 1960 model before it, the last DeSoto used a 122 inch wheelbase, the same span used by full size Dodges. The dashboard, with its three tier design and raised speedometer, could be traced back to Dodge. Even the engine, with an uninspiring 265 horses, came from DeSoto’s less prestigious sibling. The days of lanky 126 inch wheelbases and sparkling performance were clearly over.

There were, off in the wings, plans to modern DeSoto’s styling and image with Virgil Exner’s radical new FliteWing styling. Those plans were derailed by two major changes… the CEO’s sudden decision to downsize all Chrysler cars, ejecting all existing designs, and an equally sudden decision on DeSoto’s future.

1962 DeSoto concept

In its oddly beautiful 1961 dealer brochure, DeSoto made one final, rambling plea:

For 1961, DeSoto proudly presents a fine new car. It is a car rich in traditional DeSoto quality, fresh in the way it looks and performs. It puts into your hands the most all-around value in its price class. The 1961 DeSoto is not a former middle priced car scaled down in any way to attract the mass of low priced car buyers. Nor is it for those who are willing to pay a premium for a status symbol. Rather, the 1961 DeSoto has been deliberately designed for a particular kind of person who appreciates the additional roominess, the distinctive refinements and the reassuring “feel” of an automobile in DeSoto’s class. It offers all these things, in superior measure, at a price you will find surprisingly low. Surely, the 1961 DeSoto has much to offer you. In this brochure, you will find some of the reasons you should look into this new car. Your Plymouth-DeSoto dealer will show you many more.

Then there was silence.

After 32 years, DeSoto production came to a halt November 30, 1960. Dealers were notified by telegram.

1962 DeSoto clay

Some people still wanted DeSotos.

In New Jersey, nine DeSoto dealers, angered by DeSoto’s sudden cancellation, filed suit against Chrysler Corporation for breach of the Direct Dealer Agreement and malicious interference with a business relationship. Years later, the DeSoto dealers won their case.

In Wedell, Idaho, a man bought one of the last 1961 DeSotos left in stock. His father had always bought DeSotos, and now was the son’s last chance to carry on the tradition.

DeSoto was done. Or was it?

askam desoto - fargo

More About DeSoto

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