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From around 1956 until the mid 1980s, Dodge, Plymouth and even Chrysler squads were the most ubiquitous police cars in North America. In fact, the biggest department, the NYPD, used Plymouth and Dodge squads almost exclusively until the rear-drive M body car was finally axed in 1989.
The no-frills Savoy two-door sedan was home to another engine of considerable repute, the infamous 413 Max Wedge, a Super Stock monster block Chrysler introduced in the spring of 1962.
Classic Car Overview
Lets travel back to the days of Dad rolling off to the office and mom staying at home, playing bridge and preparing a hearty (heart attack inducing) dinner. Cruise up and down Main Street Anytown, USA in 1957 and you would be hard pressed not to see tail fins cutting past you like a shark in shallow waters. From the Mopar camp tail fins were abundant and Desoto surely didnt skimp on design when they grew serious fins as seen on this barn find 1957 Desoto Firedome Sportsman we present to you. Exterior Presenting in non original White and Mint Green, this 4-door hardtop, (this writers personal favorite body style), is elegance and excess of the late 50s in all forms. The Virgil Exner Forward Look is prevalent here, lower, longer, wider! Starting up front we are greeted with a massive chrome bumper showing some age, peeling and rust. Dual sunken in headlights grace the forward protruding fenders and float like eyes peering into the darkness. A chrome jet tops the hood as its ornament, the area below is shared by a chrome surrounded emblem that has faded over the years and proud single gold plated DESOTO lettering. The huge white steel slab sides display with stainless trim spears that encompass a Mint Green contrasting hue. The paint has seen better days but is still presentable and gaps are well maintained throughout the car. The rear end of this car is where the magic truly is... triple taillights floating at the back of the fins, a long mean chrome bumper with the openings for the original exhaust pipes presents well even though there is some plating lost and some rust evident. A cavernous trunk out back has a cloth flocked material covering the floors and holds the spare tire still leaving ample room for camping equipment, groceries, and even a console color tv. Interior Two tone green is the theme inside, dark mint and light mint to be exact. With a swing of the drivers door we are greeted by said greens on the door panels. Chrome separation spears define the transition between the two colors and a groovy chrome/silver inlay surrounds the armrests. While the door panels on all four doors are worn, the are still salvageable and show well. As we peer at the front bench seat we are blessed to see a mixture of mint green cloth and vinyl stretching from door to door with nary a rip or tear and only minor soiling. The rear bench mimics the front in both materials and condition, does it get any better? Our two toned theme caries to the massive steering wheel and has a nicely preserved chrome horn ring that has the long used eagle insignia within. Looking past the steering wheel we are met with more mint green and an abundance of chrome bezels that surround gauges whose job it is to monitor engine functions, and gear selectors on the push button shifter pad. A machine turned panel is below the long sweeping speedometer and houses the shiny knobs for wipers, lights, blower motor, the ignition switch, and a gold scripted firedome logo lest we forget the thing of beauty we are in control of. A quick glance across the mint green sea of steel we spy a chrome oval that houses the AM radio, a round bezel for the clock, and down below the heater temperature control slider. Down below the floor is flooded with green carpet that shows some stains and fading. A crane of the neck up and we see a tight perforated white headliner with chrome separation bows, totally fab! Drivetrain Few four letter words evoke emotion such as the word Hemi, under the hood of this piece of Americana lies the iron that legends are made of. 341ci of the legendary Hemi greeted us when we opened the hood. Topped by a 4-barrel carburetor and producing a healthy and respectable 295 horses this four door is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Sporting rust covered chrome valve covers and years of dust and dirt this engine is still a thing of beauty. A 3-speed Torqueflite automatic backs up the Hemi and sends power back to a 3.91 geared rear axle. We note power steering and an open element air cleaner along with a monstrous blower motor assembly for the heater. Undercarriage A solid frame, body hangers, and floors show with a light undercoating, no worries to speak of here. The rockers have some small areas of invasive rust that should be remedied before they become major, but that is the worst of the undercarriage. We note torsion bar (Torsionaire) front suspension and leaf springs on the rear. Drum brakes on all for corners bring this boulevard cruiser to a halt. While we do see dual exhaust it must be said that a full replacement is in order due to extensive rust. Drivability We installed our test battery, checked vital fluids and with the aid of starting fluid the legendary Hemi roared to life but only for a few brief seconds, it was music to this writers ears. After a visual analysis of what was in the fuel filter, we decided that no further testing was needed. Suffice to say a fuel tank cleaning, some fresh fuel, a carburetor rebuild, and a new fuel filter will bring this beast back to life. A great example of the late 1950s with some TLC required but not enough to merit years of work simply so it can be enjoyed. Finish up the wifes killer bacon topped meatloaf and head on down to the Classic Auto Mall, become the proud caretaker of this piece of Americana and you wont need a time machine to relive the 50s!
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