Many automobile manufacturers with long and illustrious histories have not survived to the present day. In this category, one company stands out: DeSoto, which was previously a Chrysler division that specialized in the kinds of large family cars that were common among 1950’s American autos. The Hernando de Soto brand, named after the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto, was introduced as Chrysler’s mid-range nameplate, sitting between Plymouth and Dodge. Because of declining revenues, the brand was forced to close its doors after 33 years in business.
DeSoto History (the short version)
From 1928 until the company’s collapse in 1961, a large number of successful automobiles were built under the DeSoto name. These include the DeSoto Six, which debuted in 1929, the DeSoto Firedome, which debuted in 1952, and the DeSoto Firesweep, which debuted in 1957. The Adventurer was the top-of-the-line vehicle for the brand during its final years on the market. The Adventurer served as DeSoto’s flagship vehicle during the company’s final years, and it was an excellent way to close out the company’s final years.
The DeSoto Adventurer was first presented in 1956 as an exclusive, limited-edition trim level of the DeSoto Fireflite, which had previously been the company’s top-of-the-line offering. And when we say limited edition, we mean it: just 1,950 instances of the 1957 DeSoto Adventurer were built, with only 300 of them being convertibles. And when we say limited edition, we mean it. The Adventurer was only offered as a two-door hardtop in its original design, which was a significant limitation. It wasn’t until 1957 that the convertible option was made available. In addition, until the Adventurer’s final production year in 1960, it was only offered in two color schemes: black with gold trim or white with gold trim, both of which were optional. As a result, it is quite rare to come across one with a different paint job.
The car received a rousing reception when it made its debut, yet sales were constrained as a result of the small number of vehicles produced. This was, of course, offset by the Adventurer’s somewhat steep price tag, which began at $4,272 and went up from there. That equates to $45,155 in today’s money. However, even given the low inventory levels of the DeSoto Adventurer, sales of the vehicle began a precipitous decline in 1957, which was mirrored by the complete DeSoto range. This was owing to a shift in consumer preferences, and an economic crisis in the late 1950s that reduced sales for all mid-range automobile brands, and new competition from Ford in the form of the Edsel brand, which was only around for a short period. That decline lasted for the remainder of the Adventurer’s manufacturing life, which ended in 1961 after only four years of manufacture when the automobile was retired along with the DeSoto brand itself.
The 1957 DeSoto Adventurer convertible is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine that develops 345 horsepower at 5200 revolutions per minute and 390 pound-feet of torque at 2400 revolutions per minute according to the manufacturer’s specifications. For a potential top speed of 126 miles per hour and an acceleration time from zero to sixty miles per hour of 7.2 seconds, it is fairly outstanding considering the period. Consider the fact that the DeSoto Adventurer is not exactly a featherweight when you consider how great this achievement is: Its curb weight is 4,410 pounds, which makes the DeSoto Adventurer a heavy vehicle. A rear-wheel-drive vehicle, as was common for the time era, the Adventurer was fitted with a three-speed automatic transmission, which was unique for the period.
As a result, it should come as no surprise that the Adventurer is a gas-guzzler of epic proportion. The average fuel consumption of it is only 9.7 miles per gallon, but gas was a lot cheaper back then, and people were only just becoming aware of the dangers of pollution then. With a gasoline tank capacity of 23 gallons, the Adventurer has a range of approximately 223 miles between fill-ups.
The roof, of course, is one of the most impressive aspects. Even though convertibles typically have less performance (and, strangely, a larger curb weight) than their hardtop counterparts, they can make even the most mundane of automobiles more enjoyable. And the Adventurer is anything but a dull character! This was at the height of the period of large automobiles, and at over 18 and a half feet in length, the Adventurer is more like a boat that travels on land rather than a car or truck.
Dual headlamps, dual exhausts, and the elegant, fin-covered design characteristic of high-end American automobiles from the 1950s are among the styling elements. In addition, the Adventurer had a very good trim level for the period. Quality upholstery, a radio, an electronic clock, and windshield washers are among the many standard types of equipment. A comprehensive array of instrumentation is also included. Power windows and air conditioning are available as options, which is quite astounding for a car built in the 1950s because it would be a long time before those features became commonplace on automobiles, let alone standard equipment.