The 1958 DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman is a rare and valuable collector’s item today.
The Forward Look-era Desoto is an icon of midcentury American automotive design, a time when the future was bright, gas was cheap, and the fin was in.
The DeSoto Fireflite showed some significant character relative to rest of Chrysler’s late ’50s lineup. Trim for days, two-tone panels, and the flamboyantly stacked triple-lens tail lights over the exhaust were much less subdued than the single-lamp Chrysler variants.
The 1958 DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman featured a sleek design, a long and low profile, prominent tail fins and a large grille, a powerful V8 engine and a spacious interior. It also had some innovative features for its time, such as push-button transmission, power steering and power brakes.
The 1958 Fireflite Sportsman was powered by a 361 cubic inch V8 engine, equipped with four-barrel carburetor that delivered 295 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The engine was paired with a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, which was considered one of the best in the industry.
While this was an exciting vision during Chrysler’s glamorous and futuristic Forward Look era, DeSoto’s days were numbered and ’58 was one of the final fortuitous years.
The late ’50s were plagued by quality issues across all manufacturers and ownership horror stories following the redesign betrayed consumer confidence in what was a line otherwise renown for reliability.
A struggling Chrysler began to look at it’s quirky sibling as a confused competitor fighting over real estate in the same market. Chrysler had one too many brands, and by 1960 the company panicked and pulled the plug as it tried to save itself.
However, the DeSoto Empire lives on as long as Fireflite’s crabby captains keep kicking and keeping their favorite cars.