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New Member with some questions
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Author:  DougLyle [ Mon Dec 12, 2016 7:31 pm ]
Post subject:  New Member with some questions

My name is Doug Lyle and I just joined this morning. I'm located in the San Francisco bay area and am looking to buy a 1955 Fireflite. I usually gravitate towards smaller British cars (Sunbeams and Hillmans) but somehow the Desoto has grabbed my attention.

I found one locally and went to look at it yesterday. The for sale photos were a few years old and unfortunately the car has been kept under a tarp so seeing the car in person wasn't as good as the pictures. I've enclosed a few.

The car seems to be pretty solid with some surface rust. Has a small hole in the drivers floorboard too. The car started right up and sounded good. Had a little bit of lifter noise but it was cold. All in all it's a complete car that has been sitting in a field so will need some clean-up and mice removal to start with. They have chewed the carpet and door panels.

Are door panels available for a 4 door? What about carpets? Where can I get these? The seller is asking $7,000 but that seems high to me. Any estimates on what it should be worth?

Looking forward to learning as much as I can before making a decision to buy the car.

Thanks, Doug

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Author:  DougLyle [ Mon Dec 12, 2016 7:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

Here are a few more pictures. The car has what appears to be dealer installed air conditioning. It's a Universal Riviera air conditioner.

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Author:  TimBowers [ Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

My first observation is that the car has had an upgrade on its power brake booster and master cylinder, which would be considered a nice safety upgrade (dual reservoir master cylinder) if the conversion was done well.

The original power brake unit for Chrysler/DeSoto in '55 was a one-year only unit that is expensive to rebuild, so you may already be past that issue on this car. If the seller knows, you might want to know where the upgraded unit was sourced for future reference.

Author:  DougLyle [ Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

Thanks for the info on the brake master. I wasn't aware that it had been changed. I do know that the current owner replaced the wheel cylinders and did other brake work. He also replaced the wiring harness but the mice have chewed some of it.

If I get the car I'll go through the brakes again and will redo the wiring as it seems to having random wires running in not stock locations.

Author:  FredRoman [ Tue Dec 13, 2016 2:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

Welcome to the club Doug,

Nice looking car and appears to be in fairly good condition. Curious as to what your intentions are? Will you be fixing it up for a driver or restoring it to original? We'll be interested in seeing your progress - please keep us posted.

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

Author:  ronwaters [ Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

I follow 55 Desotos and this one has been for sale for a while. 7000 is way high for a 4 door car in this condition. Gonna need lots of work. Also has incorrect interior, from what I can see. You will want to replace the entire wiring harness, as the original cloth wire will be brittle after 60+ years. My advice is to shop around. This one is worth 3000 max, IMHO.

Ron

Author:  DougLyle [ Tue Dec 13, 2016 5:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

FredRoman wrote:
Welcome to the club Doug,

Nice looking car and appears to be in fairly good condition. Curious as to what your intentions are? Will you be fixing it up for a driver or restoring it to original? We'll be interested in seeing your progress - please keep us posted.


My plans would be to make it a driver while bringing it back to original.

Author:  DougLyle [ Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

ronwaters wrote:
I follow 55 Desotos and this one has been for sale for a while. 7000 is way high for a 4 door car in this condition. Gonna need lots of work. Also has incorrect interior, from what I can see. You will want to replace the entire wiring harness, as the original cloth wire will be brittle after 60+ years. My advice is to shop around. This one is worth 3000 max, IMHO.

Ron


Thanks for the info Ron. The car does need a ton of work. I'm looking in to what it would take to do the interior. SMS says they can make the door panels for $849 although the picture they sent me wasn't correct so working with them to see if they can get the right patterns. I would still need to come up with set of panels to get the correct metal pieces. They can also make the metal pieces for an extra $200. They claim to have the correct material for the seats too so I'd get that to redo the seats.

The wiring harness has been replaced. Looks like original cloth wiring but the mice have chewed some of it already. I agree $7,000 is too high. Car was advertised a couple of years for $5,000 and it has gone downhill since then. After seeing it in person I thought it was worth $3,000 too because it needs so much. I would be trading a Hillman Minx convertible I have for the Desoto. He would have to throw in some money too. If you look t the picture of my Hillman you can see it's not an even trade.

I'm aware that by the time i get everything fixed I could have bought a car for less.....so that is making me think hard bout whether or not to buy this one.

Anybody have a good car they want to trade for my Hillman?

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Author:  MarkKubancik [ Sat Dec 24, 2016 9:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

Doug,

Your Hillman does indeed look to be in much nicer shape than the '55. I'm the '55 model year coordinator and am in agreement with others that this car needs a lot of work to suit my taste for a driver. Nice '55's come up for sale fairly often and if you are patient you will likely spend less overall if you find one at a higher price but in better shape requiring less work.

Most anything can be repaired or replaced, just depends on your skill level and size of bankroll.

Gook luck with your decision!

Mark

Author:  DougLyle [ Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

I'm now looking at this 56. what do you guys think it's worth? Looks like a solid car in need of some interior work.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/351938741383?_t ... EBIDX%3AIT

Thanks, Doug

Author:  lesfairbanks [ Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

Hi Doug, My opinion for what it is worth. If the description is accurate and it is as solid as they say that is not a bad price. It looks like a much better deal than the '55. I don't know if that original seat material is available but Tim Bowers and others more familiar with '56's would probably know. I found the original seat material for my '52 at SMS Fabrics so they might be worth a try.

Author:  DougLyle [ Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

Thanks for the reply Les. I spoke with SMS fabrics a few weeks ago and they had the material for the 55 seats and could make the door panels for $849 and if I didn't have the metal pieces an extra $200.

I think they said they also had materials for the 56. Trying to get the paint and trim codes so I can get samples of the interior material. I'm assuming the color is pink but want to make sure.

Author:  MarkKubancik [ Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

Doug,

Agree with Les that the '56 appears a much better car overall than the '55. At current BIN price, however, the '56 is about three times higher than your expected purchase price on the '55. Not sure that the '56 is 3 times a better car.

Not trying to dampen your enthusiasm, however, my recommendation would be to expand your search geography and extend the timeline and search for the best combination of condition, price, location and value.

A quick Google search found this '55 for sale in Rocheter, NY: https://www.carsforsale.com/vehicle/details/1507022

Considering it will be winter in Rochester for another 4 or 5 months, you might be able to make a good deal on this car.

Mark

Author:  ronwaters [ Thu Jan 05, 2017 3:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

IMHO, both these cars are priced at two to three times their value. Take your time and the right car at the right price will show up. That's what I did.

Ron

Author:  DougLyle [ Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member with some questions

I'm still looking the at the pink and white 56. Looks like the car was originally gray. Can anyone tell me what the original interior colors would have been for an iridescent gray car? Would love to see pictures too if anyone has them. I'm assuming the interior on this car has been totally redone.

Thanks, Doug

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