Other Related Websites:

1957 DeSoto Production Figures. Unknown author and soi. Includes factory prices and production totals by model number and body type. http://users.erinet.com/30561/desoto57.htm
'57 Classic Heaven Presents six restored autos and some interesting info about the Adventurer. http://www.57heaven.com/DeSoto1.html
Inflation Conversion Factors for Dollars 1700 to Estimated 2010 by Robert Sahr, Political Science Department, Oregon State University. Offers conversion tables for determining the value of past dollars to the value of current dollars, adjusted for inflation. Various conversion tables available in both pdf and html, as well as an Excel file that is easily downloaded.

Collector Car & Truck Market Guide
provides one perspective to market value for many different makes and models based on condition and options. http://www.vmrintl.com/cctm/coll_frame.htm
Hemi Engine Database and registry at TheHemi.com. Lists 2 of the three engines offered by DeSoto in '57 with specifics. Check the home page for more info on the hemi engine. http://www.thehemi.com/engines.php
Dawson Blackmore, Jr., an emergency medical technician from Connecticut displays his 1957 Firesweep Memphian Ambulance with pictures and the vehicle's history; (link at bottom of page).  http://ctemsi.freeservers.com
EphemeraNow.com. A quality site offering a visual (only) presentation of American, mid-20th century, seductive advertising and illustration art. Not limited to autos. DeSoto artwork taken from sales broadsides including years before and after '57. http://www.ephemeranow.com
Canadian Exports of the DeSoto by Mike Sealey, Bill Watson, and Jim Benjaminson, including serial numbers, photos, and histories. A great synopsis of Chrysler's practice of converting Plymouths into DeSotos for export from 1937 til 1959. Check this out. It'll help with Name That Animal.
Horn Buttons. Just for the hellovit. And hood ornaments. By the Rideau Lakes Antique Auto Club, Manotick, Ontario. Uhh, no '57 DeSoto stuff but worth a look.
"Virgin M. Exner, Sr.: Distinguished Designer," by John F. Katz. An excellent biographical article taken from Collectible Automobile, (December 1994), offering insights into the beliefs, frustrations, passions, trials, and successes of this gifted designer; and the political in's and out's of corporate automotive design. Within this article (pp. 5-6), is another article written by Exner himself, "It's Easy to Design an Automobile." The entire article is found at the Imperial Club's website.
The National DeSoto Club, Inc.
If you're a DeSoto enthusiast, this website is worth checking out. Mostly membership info but some great pics of the '29, '34, 1950 DeSoto. And one of the 2 millionth production car: a '59 Firedome Sportsman, (click "History"). http://www.desoto.org/.
100 Years of Design. Not just autos. Everything.
Dictionary of Automotive Terms by John Barach. There's a total of 10,751 entries in this gem. I'd be willing to bet, if you can't find it here, you're making it up.

      The Forward Look

Still best viewed using Internet Explorer with screen resolution at 1024x768, Java enabled, medium text size.


Model Differences
What made a Sportsman a Sportsman? A Fireflite a Fireflite? Besides engine and drivetrain specs, and accessory and option limitations, each in the DeSoto series received slightly different body treatments.

The 1957 DeSoto remained a mid-priced offering, but included an impressive list of both standard and optional equipment for performance and passenger comfort:

Power steering;
Power brakes;
Power windows;
Pushbotton, fully automatic transmission (TorqueFlite standard on all except Firesweep);
Six-way power seats;
Heater, defroster;
Electric clock;
AM radio with auto station seek.

The Adventurer Differences: Essentially the same as the Fireflite, these were the only models to receive gold body paint, and goldtone hubcaps and grillwork; and available only in white and gold or black and gold color combinations.


Chrysler's Introduction of the Forward Look reflected a dramatic departure from traditional design and engineering. While the 'look' was introduced in 1955, it wasn't until Chrysler launched its 1957 models that the "bathtub epoch" ended, and an approach to automotive styling evolved that would endure through the 1980's, at least until the "squished jelly bean" styling made its appearance in the 1990's.
      In 1957, autos took on a lower, wider, more

refined and aerodynamic look compared to their predecessors. The new models were laden wiith chrome, sporting fins that echoed the public's growing fascination with the possibilities of space travel.

The Sportsman Differences:  Across all in the series, only a hardtop could be a Sportsman, receiving a more elegant treatment of the top without pillar posts between the doors on 4d models - intended to give the "look" of a convertible to a hardtop. (See the FireSweep below.) The wrap-around top design of the Sportsman precluded a triangle of filler-glass at the rear. "Sportsman" was proudly displayed behind the front wheel wells.


The FireFlite Differences

The Explorer/Shopper Differences


Basically the same station wagon, the Shopper didn't have the third rear-facing fold-down seat and lacked some of the trim the Explorer had.

Outside rear view mirrors, (passenger side optional), dagmars on the front bumpers, and ornamentation above the headlights set the FireFlites apart from the rest. Only the FireFlites received the Falcon-V insignia on the front quarter panels.

Virgil Max Exner
24 September 1909
22 December 1973.

Described as a precocious, intelligent, soft-spoken man; athletic yet artistic; sun-tanned and prematurely white-haired; possessing foresight.

     After frustrating careers at GM and Studebaker, Exner joined Chrysler in 1949, where new model development was supervised by body engineers, not designers.1 He headed the newly created
Advanced Styling Studio, which was technically under engineering, at least until the financial rewards of his designs were realized. Then he became Chrysler's first VP of Styling.
     In 1953, he was assigned the total redesign of the '55's which went into production and introduced as the "Forward Look" in 1955. Chrysler went from a design loser to one of the top three in appeal and sales overnight. It was now GM, Ford, and Chrysler.
     The designs he had prepped in '55 went into production in 1957, shocking the automotive world with what we know today: low, exciting autos that delivered performance and comfort as well as the promise of the future. General Motors was literally sent back to the drawing board for 1959 when Chrysler's 1957 sales skyrocketed.
     He left Chrysler in 1963, plans for another design coup for '62 derailed by managerial stupidity, as scapegoat for someone else's poor judgement.2

"We wanted," [Exner had] said, "to give our cars an eager, poised-for-action look which we feel is the natural and functional shape of automobiles."1

"He advised his colleagues to learn some basic principles from aircraft design: that functional aerodynamics can be beautiful, that a machine should not disguise its "mechanical heart," that "rounded shapes" need "more than a hint of a rigid 'backbone' to give them direction and stability."2

The Explorer came with an extra dome light "For convenient passenger seating or cargo loading at night…"

The FireDome Differences: Exterior styling? Not much. It lacked the treatment of the FireFlite while still a genuine DeSoto.

The FireSweep Differences: DeSoto Firesweeps were built at the Dodge plant and used Dodge engines and drivetrains. (Engine specs are the same as the 1957 Dodge Poly KDS 325.)5 Appearance differences are most evident at the front quarter panels from the side; and an obvious difference in the treatment of the front.

With an approximate 1957 sticker price of $4,000, you'd be paying $24,539.88, (in adjusted dollars), and would be getting better gas mileage than the average 2002 SUV equipped with a V8.

Different colors were available for the top, body, and sweep, though it's uncertain if DeSoto ever let an auto leave the plant without identical top and sweep colors.

Many thanks to Ed Petrus for the use of his color samples. Visit his site online at: http://www.angelfire.com/de/petrus/  for an extraordinary collection of 1957 DeSoto information.


(And Other Miscellaneous DeSoto Stuff). Up to testing your knowledge of some '57 DeSoto trivia? Click it.


1) Virgil Exner: Design Visionary
2) Virgil M. Exner, Sr.: Distinguished Designer.
Collectible Automobile, December 1994, p. 70.
3) Virgil M. Exner, Sr.: Distinguished Designer.
Collectible Automobile, December 1994, p. 74.
4) Torsion Bar Suspension, (def.)
5) Power Play Engine ID
6) Popular Mechanics, "Detroit Listening Post," by Leo Donovan, November 1956, Vol. 106, No. 5;Popular Mechanics Company, (Chicago, IL), p. 122. "While you admire [these] 1957 automotive beauties… With these speed limits,  where can you let the power plant stretch its muscles? ...Your 300-horsepower beauty, (and perhaps you, too), will arrive at your destination utterly frustrated!"

"Announcing the exciting new 345 h.p. DeSoto Adventurer
When you drive the new 345 hp De Soto Adventurer, people sit up and take notice!…"

"Pick a mount with the DeSoto brand, pardner!
Choose any car in the DeSoto corral, and, pardner, you've got yourself a thoroughbred…"

"DeSoto wagons are bigger, smarter, …and prices start close to the lowest!
Smartest automobile for town and country is the '57 DeSoto station wagon! It's so roomy and luxurious, and has all these great DeSoto features…"

"These great advances make the '57 DeSoto the most exciting car in the world today!"

"DE SOTO Torsion-Aire Ride
smooths the roughest roads… corners without leaning… stops without dive."

"8 big advances make the 1957 DE SOTO the most exciting car in the world today! New Torsion-Aire ride! DeSoto for '57 has a completely new suspension combining torsion bars, outrider springs and super-soft cushion tires…"

"This baby can flick its tail at anything on the road!
Take the wheel of a new DeSoto. Pilot her out through traffic toward the open road. Before you turn your second corner, you'll know this is the most exciting car in the world today. And here are the eight reasons why…"

"Torsion bar suspension uses the flexibility of a steel bar or tube, twisting lengthwise to provide spring action. Instead of the flexing action of a leaf spring, or the compress[ion] action of a coil spring, the torsion bar twists to exert resistance against up-and-down movement. Two rods of spring steel are used... One end of the bar is fixed solidly to a part of the frame behind the wheel; the other is attached to the lower control arm. As the arm rises and falls with wheel movement, the bar twists and absorbs more of the road shocks before they can reach the body of the car. The bar untwists when the pressure is released, just like a spring rebounding after being compressed. Adjusting the torsion bars controls the height of the front end of the vehicle. The adjusting bolts are located at the torsion bar anchors in the front crossmember. The inner ends of the lower control arms are bolted to the crossmember and pivot through a bushing."4