History of the 1955-1957 DeSoto Fireflite
The 1955 model year was a watershed for DeSoto, as the company unveiled the Virgil Exner-penned “Forward Look” design. The design was a smashing success, nearly doubling DeSoto sales for the year, and it carried through to the end of the company’s production on November 30, 1960.
The new high-line car in the 1955 DeSoto lineup was the Fireflite, with a snappy two-tone paint job and a list of features that would make any automaker proud. The 1955 DeSoto was more rakish and sporty looking than the standard run of Fords and Chevrolets that year, and the model was graced with an assortment of showy trim pieces. Bright backswept fender ornaments encompassed the headlights, a large hood ornament sat above the grille, trim adorned the hood line, a chrome-lined color sweep extended the length of the car, more trim was affixed to the lower rocker panel, and V-8 emblems abounded. Buyers could opt for a Coronado Fireflite, which added leather upholstery to the interior and a three-tone paint scheme to the exterior.
Under the hood, all 1955 DeSotos featured a 291-cid, 200-hp Firedome hemi V-8 engine with a four-barrel carburetor. Transmission choices included a three-speed manual with optional overdrive, or the optional push-button PowerFlite automatic. Buyers could select the Fireflite in a variety of configurations, including four-door sedan, two-door hardtop coupe, and two-door convertible. Production totals were not high – about 37,000 Fireflites were made, compared to 80,000 of the base model Firedome.
For 1956, DeSoto further upgraded the Forward Look design, delivering another stunning car that featured fins rather than a rounded rear end. Power was bumped to 255, PowerFlite transmission became standard equipment, and the automaker also boosted the electrical system to 12 volts, making the entire system more functional. A four-door Sportsman hardtop sedan was added, as was a special “Pacesetter” convertible commemorating the Fireflite’s selection as the pace car of the 1956 Indianapolis 500. Like most commemorative editions, these pace car replicas came loaded with options.
As with the rest of the American auto industry, the 1957 DeSoto Fireflite had larger tailfins, giving the car a sweeping, fast look. A new station wagon body style accommodating either six or nine passengers was added to the lineup, with the six-passenger variant being called the “Shopper” and the nine-passenger wagon dubbed the “Explorer.” – Source: hagerty.com