View topic - Me & My Car: Owner’s 1940 DeSoto was a must-buy

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The purpose of the National DeSoto Club, Inc. (NDC), is to encourage the preservation, restoration and promotion of all De Soto automobiles, as well as to promote fellowship and the exchange of knowledge among all fellow members. Furthermore, the study, compilation of data, summary of information, and preservation of literature related to De Soto automobiles is encouraged. The NDC’s message board is open to all. The NDC’s Trustees and members are NOT responsible for the accuracy of any of the information posted to this message board. The NDC’s web-master may, at his/her discretion, remove any message that is deemed to be offensive, and deny posting privileges to the person who posted the offensive message.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 2:45 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:43 pm
Posts: 975
San Ramon resident Rick Parras appears recently with his 1940 DeSoto custom four-door sedan. (David Krumboltz/for Bay Area News Group)
By David Krumboltz
PUBLISHED: September 26, 2016 at 12:01 am | UPDATED: September 26, 2016 at 6:09 am

The DeSoto brand started in 1928 when Walter P. Chrysler formed his new automobile company after buying Maxwell Motor Co.

DeSoto was at the higher end of the midpriced cars, priced just under the Chrysler models. Chrysler also started the Plymouth brand at the same time. DeSoto had quite a successful run, selling more than two million cars from 1928 until the car line was discontinued in 1961.

The DeSoto name came from the Spanish conquistador Hernando De Soto, who was the first European explorer to lead an expedition through much of what is now Florida and the South. Walter P. might have selected a different name had he known DeSoto was not a real nice guy, as he became very wealthy in the Central American slave trade.

It wasn’t long after the launching of the DeSoto when Chrysler bought the Dodge Brothers Motor Co. It was a tail-wagging-the-dog transaction, as Dodge Brothers was a considerably bigger company than Chrysler. Had that acquisition happened a littler earlier, there probably wouldn’t have been a DeSoto at all.

When introduced, DeSoto had some good things going for it that most of the competition didn’t offer like Lockheed hydraulic brakes, standard automatic windshield wipers, full instrumentation and a tool kit with its own grease gun. DeSoto set a first-year sales record of 81,065 vehicles, a record that was not exceeded until the Ford Falcon was introduced in 1959.

San Ramon resident Rick Parras loves the cars of the 1930s and 1940s. He wasn’t looking for a particular make or model, but when he saw this top-of-the-line 1940 DeSoto custom four-door sedan about a year ago, he knew it belonged in his garage. He bought it from a gentleman in San Anselmo for $10,500.

“I loved the body, and it was very much intact. It had a lot of chrome and moldings, which I really liked. The inside was shot. I don’t know if it was the original, but it was very worn and torn.”

Also it didn’t run. But Parras noted that the body had no exterior rust. He felt the engine was repairable and with the interior restored professionally he would have a beautiful collector car of the era he loved. It’s a big car sitting on a 122.5-inch wheelbase weighing about 3,300 pounds. It is powered by a 228.1-cubic-inch 100-horsepower engine that has only been driven 84,000 miles. For a transmission, it has “three on the tree” and shifts smoothly. The starter pedal sticks out of the firewall above the accelerator about 4 or 5 inches, and looks like a big mushroom.

Parras’ thinking proved correct. For about $500 his mechanic fixed the engine, and it runs like a top. It is all original except for the upgraded electronic ignition. Then the owner went to work on the interior.

“I had the whole interior gutted. It was originally an East Coast car, and we thought there may be considerable, rust but zero patching was required on this 76-year-old car.”

Someone along the line apparently did a good job of preserving floorboards inside and out with undercoating. The cream-colored exterior, while not a factory color, is quite similar.

The $6,500 interior restoration included the carpet, door panels and headliner and matches the original factory fabrics as closely as possible. It is a six-passenger car, although inside is somewhat narrower than today’s cars. Parras’ attention to detail is noted when opening the rear suicide doors and seeing the comfortable seat cushions having three stylish medallions centered on the back and seat, similar to factory specifications.

In the rear seating area, there are two refurbished pull straps on the posts behind each rear door to help people enter and exit the car. The dashboard is real wood, as are the window sills. While the car does have a heater, it is in the front under the dashboard, aimed at the feet of the passenger so the warmed air would take a while to benefit the rear seat passengers. To rectify that situation there is a deluxe rope the width of the seat designed to carry a lap blanket on the back of the front seat.

Including the interior, Parras in total has about $18,000 invested. He estimates the current market value at $30,000 to $35,000, but he has no interest or plans to sell. He drives to car shows, but thoroughly enjoys driving this classic to do his weekend errands.

The DeSoto name is familiar in the Bay Area but as a taxi company. This is not a coincidence. The taxi company was started by James Waters, the San Francisco DeSoto-Plymouth distributor, who used DeSoto cabs exclusively.
Have an interesting vehicle? Contact David Krumboltz at

Link to story: ... -must-buy/

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:36 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:57 pm
Posts: 279
Great read and a beautiful DeSoto!

"It's delightful, it's delovely, it's DeSoto"

"It's delightful, it's delovely, it's DeSoto"

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