View topic - Newspaper column about the Adventurer

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:48 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:43 pm
Posts: 980
From the Victoria, B.C., Canada Times-Colonist. Reasonably factual synopsis for a newspaper article. Not necessarily flattering, but what do they say "all publicity is good publicity"!

De Soto was Chrysler’s unwanted child
• BILL VANCE Auto Reflections
The De Soto brand arrived in 1928 from the young Chrysler Corp. that Walter Chrysler had formed out of Maxwell Motor Corp. in 1925. The De Soto was developed to fit between the Chrysler and its new low-priced Plymouth.
Then when Chrysler unexpectedly acquired Dodge Brothers, also in 1928, the De Soto suddenly seemed redundant. Although a place was made at the table by dropping a Dodge model, De Soto always seemed like an extra member of the corporate family.
The De Soto was staid and solid, never flashy or garish, and always lived under the shadow of its older brother Chrysler. It appealed to the conservative banker or high school principal seeking Chrysler quality and luxury with less ostentation, like English gentlemen who bought Bentleys rather than more conspicuous Rolls-Royces.
That image would finally change when De Soto introduced the 1956 Adventurer, the most powerful and flamboyant De Soto ever. Named after the De Soto concept cars of the early 1950s, the Adventurer came out a year after Chrysler’s new 1955 “Forward Look” styling gave the corporation a fresh design direction.
Along with new 1955 styling, Chrysler had launched the stunning mid-year Chrysler C-300 image car, named for its 300 horsepower, hemispherical-combustion-chamber “Hemi” V-8. It could be called the first real muscle car, and corporate siblings Plymouth, Dodge and De Soto wanted theirs, too. Thus, for 1956 came the Dodge D-500, Plymouth Fury and De Soto Adventurer.
De Soto had two series, the Firedome and more upscale Fireflite. The two-door hardtop Adventurer was based on the Fireflite and bowed in February 1956. It was a relative of the Fireflite “Pacesetter” convertible that paced the 1956 Indianapolis 500, the only De Soto ever to do so.
With appearance set apart by gold plating on its mesh grille, rear quarter-panel badges and turbine-style wheel covers, it was sometimes referred to as the Golden Adventurer.
The Hemi’s displacement was increased from 5.4 to 5.6 litres (330 to 341 cu. in.). Its horsepower was increased from 230 to 320 with higher compression, larger valves with stiffer springs, two four-barrel carburetors and dual exhausts. It also got the corporation’s new-for-1956 12-volt electrical system.
Suspension was stiffened and power brakes made standard, although power steering was still optional. And De Soto purchasers could order the corporation’s new “Highway Hi-Fi,” a small 16 ⁄ -rpm record player carried in a glove box-like compartment in the instrument panel. Never very satisfactory, it was discontinued the following year.
Gear selection for the twospeed Powerflite automatic was by Chrysler’s new mechanical push buttons on the instrument panel. De Soto sold 996 of its 1956 Adventurers.
For 1957, De Soto received the huge sweeping fins that were the corporation’s mark that year. De Soto’s version carried triple stacked taillamps in the fins. A convertible was added.
Mechanical changes for 1957 included Chrysler Corp.’s new longitudinal torsion-bar front suspension. The Adventurer Hemi grew again from 5.6 to 5.7 litres (341 to 345 cu. in.) and power increased from 320 to 345, or one horsepower per cubic inch from a standard engine. Chevrolet was trumpeting its 283 horsepower from 283 cubic inch optional V-8, but De Soto didn’t have Chevrolet money to advertise its feat.
The Adventurer had outstanding performance, with contemporary reports recording zero to 100 km/h in about 10 seconds and a top speed over 225 km/h. This, and the addition of the convertible, helped De Soto almost double Adventurer 1957 sales.
By 1958, several factors, including an economic recession, were against De Soto. And popular-priced cars from Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth were growing and moving up-market. Also, high-line cars such as Chrysler’s offered lower-priced versions. Squeezed from both ends, De Soto sales dropped from more than 130,000 ’57s to 49,000 ’58s, including only 423 Adventurers.
Some 1958 mechanical changes also impacted De Soto’s image. Because the Hemi engine was heavy and expensive to manufacture, it was replaced with a cheaper-to-build wedge-head design, although the Adventurers still had the same 345 horsepower. De Soto offered fuel injection in Adventurers, but it proved troublesome and was recalled and replaced by carburetors.
The 1959 Adventurer got standard swivelling bucket seats and some exclusive trim and paint treatment, and the Adventurer engine was available across the De Soto line. Sales rose to 687, but Chrysler Corp. was losing interest in De Soto, and as a harbinger of the future it eliminated De Soto’s assembly plant and moved it to a Chrysler facility.
1960 was the last model year for the Adventurer name, which had by that time been diluted by being used on almost all De Soto models.

But it really didn’t matter. On Nov. 30, 1960, Chrysler announced that the De Soto brand was being discontinued.

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