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55-56 Desotos
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JERSEYBOB
Posted 2006-04-04 7:52 PM (#53473)
Subject: 55-56 Desotos



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OK, I'm sure this has been discussed before, but Im just too lazy to search for it.
Whats the difference between the Desoto models of 55 and 56..... I.E. Firedome, Fireflite, Firesweep (if they had that model then). Wheel base?, some are only 2 drs and some are only 4 drs ?...Please pardon my Desoto ignorance, I dont have one of these, but sure would like to one day. ........Keeping the 55-56 support group alive
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50scars
Posted 2006-04-04 9:23 PM (#53486 - in reply to #53473)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos


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Basically, the 56 was a facelift of the 55. There are many many significant differences. Among them, 56 introduced 12 V negative ground electric system. The automatic transmission on the 56 was controlled by pushbuttons mounted on the left side of the dash, where the 55 had a shift lever that stuck out of the dash to the right of the steering column. The visual differences in the grill, side trim and tail lights are unmistakable. Sometime during the production run, the 56 got the 3 speed torqueflite instead of the 2 speed, I think the old name was powerflight. In 56, there was a 4 door pillarless hardtop added.
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DeSotohead
Posted 2006-04-04 9:35 PM (#53490 - in reply to #53486)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos



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50scars - 2006-04-04 9:23 PM

Sometime during the production run, the 56 got the 3 speed torqueflite instead of the 2 speed, I think the old name was powerflight.


The 1956 DeSoto never got the 3-speed A466 Torqueflite that was found in late 56 Chrysler New Yorkers, Imperials, and also SOME Dodges (I think D500 CRLs). I know this because I have been adapting a 3-speed A466 Torqueflite into my 56 DeSoto, and have had to hunt for a special 56 only passenger car (or 57-59 Dodge/Fargo truck) pushbutton unit.
Even then, I am making a modification to the Powerflite 4-button bezel to make the 5-button Tflite unit fit and look period stock.

There WAS a retrofit kit for 56 DeSotos to put the Torqueflite into them (ALLPAR even mentions it), but I think they most likely sold less than 20 of them. So the bezel unit used with that setup is lost to the ages. I have never even found a part number for the kit, much less that part in it.

Otherwise, your assessment of the 56 versus the 55 is right-on. The pillarless 4-door was actually a 4-door HARDTOP, not a sedan.
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desoto_zealot
Posted 2006-04-04 9:38 PM (#53491 - in reply to #53473)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos



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You have good taste in cars, Bob. Here's a little info for you to digest. 55's had the toothy grille and 56's had the mesh grille and tailfins.

55 models: Firedome, Fireflite

56 models: Firedome, Fireflite, Adventurer

There was also the wagons and convertibles.

The 2 and 4 door hardtops were called Sportsmans, but 56 was the first year of the 4DHT.

There was also a Firedome Seville 2DHT in 56 and a Fireflite Coronado sedan in 55.

Both Firedome & Fireflite shared the 291 in 55, then the 330 in 56. The 56 Adventurer had the 341.

Push-button automatic gear selector debuted in 56.

Both years had the cool gull-wing dash.

Hope this helps.




(55front.JPG)



(55rear.JPG)



(56front.jpg)



(56rear.JPG)



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Attachments 55front.JPG (44KB - 85 downloads)
Attachments 55rear.JPG (51KB - 91 downloads)
Attachments 56front.jpg (56KB - 89 downloads)
Attachments 56rear.JPG (45KB - 90 downloads)
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61plymy
Posted 2006-04-04 9:45 PM (#53498 - in reply to #53473)
Subject: Re: 55-56 Desotos


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WOW!!! THAT...... is a good lookin' car!!!

So if 55 was when the tranny was on the right of the steering wheel, and 56 it was pushbuttons, was that across the board for Mopar?

My Grandfather had a Plymouth "I-don't-know-what-it-was" because I was young and the car ain't here to look at anymore, but I do remember that it was a two speed tranny, with the arm coming out of the dash on the right side of the steering wheel. It was also a 6 volt system, because I remember my Dad and I went to get it going for him one time, and Dad was jumping it with a 12 volt car, and baby that starter did turn!! So that was a 55?


Mike
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desoto_zealot
Posted 2006-04-04 10:02 PM (#53506 - in reply to #53498)
Subject: Re: 55-56 Desotos



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61plymy - 2006-04-04 9:45 PM

but I do remember that it was a two speed tranny, with the arm coming out of the dash on the right side of the steering wheel. It was also a 6 volt system, because I remember my Dad and I went to get it going for him one time, and Dad was jumping it with a 12 volt car, and baby that starter did turn!! So that was a 55?


Mike



Yup -55.




(55dash.JPG)



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Attachments 55dash.JPG (48KB - 93 downloads)
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MOPAR-TO-YA
Posted 2006-04-05 12:31 AM (#53535 - in reply to #53473)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos


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J-Bob---Long live the 55-56 support group! How about an update on your wagon?..........................5%................
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56fireflite
Posted 2006-04-05 4:23 AM (#53551 - in reply to #53473)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos



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I find that 55/56 DeSotos have the cleanest and best designed dash and interior of all forwardlookers. A 55/56 Chrysler is o.k. on the outside, but the interior is far from spectaculair
Checkout the dasboard in the PT cruisers, I'm sure they studied a 55 DeSoto's...
I have been playing with 55 56 Desotos for 20 years now, and one thing that always strikes me: it looks bad in a picture.
In the flesh they are big, in a picture it's hard to capture how you would see them in the street.
A 55 Thunderbird or 57 Ch**y look great in pics, but are little cars in real life.
Hhhhmmmm, I'm glad the 55/56's are in the picture....
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JERSEYBOB
Posted 2006-04-05 6:36 PM (#53587 - in reply to #53473)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos



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Thanks guys for all your posts. I do really like these years for Desoto, and, I guess I should have been a litle more clear on my initial post.
Visibly, from the outside, I know the difference between 55 and 56's. What I'm not sure about is which models were 2 drs and which were 4 drs. I also remember a discussion about different wheel bases, and interchangeability between sheetmetal. (Maybe it was a Chrysler discussion???)

How hard would it be to find a 55 2 dr?
How about a 56 2dr?
I'm not shopping yet, just wondering if its going to be possible at all.
Again, thanks. I know theres a lot more info out there you all have.
Oh and by the way, I recognize that 55 from Carlisle. It was right across from the ForwardLook tent.........cool.

Edited by JERSEYBOB 2006-04-05 6:39 PM
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JERSEYBOB
Posted 2006-04-05 7:49 PM (#53593 - in reply to #53535)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos



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Well, its been kinda slow. LOTS of fabrication is going on, and that takes time. I removed the stock trans crossmember, totally fabbed up a new one, had to make engine mount perches for the frame as well as motor mounts themselves. Got a pair of shorty headers from Hot Heads, checked all the clearances for the millionth time, then checked them again, had to make sure drive line angles are all good, ended up raising the whole motor up another inch, got ahold of V8 tie rods and drag link to change steering clearances, unfortuneately had to "modify" the firewall and make sure the Tremec shifter went through the floor where I wanted it to.
Its not easy to fit a Hemi in where its not supposed to go.
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50scars
Posted 2006-04-06 8:16 PM (#53671 - in reply to #53587)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos


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What do you mean "Which Models are 2 doors and which ones are 4 doors"?
FIREDOME and FIREFLIGHT were trim levels. The Fireflight being the top line.
I'm not sure if there was a Firedome Convertible, or if it was just Fireflite. I don't recall if the Stationwagons were Firedome, or Fireflight, or both. There was a 2 door hardtop, a 4 door sedan in both Firedome and Fireflight. Unless you know your stuff, it is not all that easy to tell which is which from far away. Unlike Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge, where the differences between the trim levels is bold, DeSoto was more descrete. There was no DeSoto 2 door sedan after 1954, in US built cars.

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chrycopsycho
Posted 2006-04-06 11:10 PM (#53686 - in reply to #53671)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos



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Firedome was offered in vert form as well. Difference in trim that I noticed between firedome and fireflite for 56 was that fireflite had trim that was considerably wider.

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forwardlookparts
Posted 2006-04-07 9:19 AM (#53700 - in reply to #53473)
Subject: Re: 55-56 Desotos



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Mike, yeah, across the board on the dash mounted shift arm for automatic '55 MoPars and left side pushbuttons in '56.

As most of you probably know, the toothy '55 DeS grille is a favorite among old school car customizers. A nice one will bring in good bucks on eBay.
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De Soto Frank
Posted 2006-04-13 10:19 AM (#54071 - in reply to #53587)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos


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All 55 & 56 De Soto sedans (meaning non-wagons or limos) ride the same wheelbase.

All '55s share the same sheetmetal. The basic differences between the Firedome and Fireflite are: Trim and interior.

The '55 Firedome came stock with the 291 Hemi, 2bbl carb and single-exhaust, rated at 185 HP.

The '55 Fireflite was the up-scale model, and featured the same 291 Hemi, but with 4bbl carb and dual exhaust (stock) for 200 HP.

Power Brakes and Power Steering were optional on either series, as were A/C, power windows, power seats, etc.

As for body styles, "all body styles" were available in either series (S-21 Fireflite and S-22 Firedome): Sedans: 2 & 4 dr, HT: 2 dr ("Special Coupe" in Firedome; "Sportsman" in Fireflite), Convertible, Wagon.
The Coronado was a tri-tone paint job available only as a Fireflite.

Generally speaking, most two-toned Firedomes had the second color only on the roof. Two-toned Fireflites usually had a color-sweep on the side of the body, framed by a trim moulding. Firedomes usually just had a moulding down the beltline. BUT, there were variations...

The '56 was basically a facelifted '55; body-shell and chassis were unchanged, but there were now a choice of engines...

My experience is primarily with '55 models...

They are great cars; check carefully for rust when you go shopping...


Good luck !


De Soto Frank McMullen
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JERSEYBOB
Posted 2006-04-13 4:17 PM (#54081 - in reply to #54071)
Subject: RE: 55-56 Desotos



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Thanks Frank !! I'm taking mental notes...........which may not be good now that I think about it.
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forwardlookparts
Posted 2006-04-14 12:45 AM (#54108 - in reply to #53473)
Subject: Re: 55-56 Desotos



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I have to agree that they are the best-looking of the '55 FLs.
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