View topic - Brent Jacobsen's 1952 Firedome Sportsman Hardtop

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:07 am 
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
Here are some photos of my 1952 DeSoto Firedome Sportsman Hardtop.

This car pursued me. I bought my first DeSoto as a transportation car in 1973 while going to college in Corvallis, Oregon. I joined a DeSoto club at the time, and shortly after joining I got a letter from the lady who owned this 1952 car. She and her husband had bought it brand new in 1952 and had travelled all over the western U.S. in it. Her husband had passed away and she wanted the car to be bought by someone who wouldn't hot-rod it. I couldn't afford two DeSotos at the time, but I kept writing to her, and she kept writing back. Finally in 1980 I bought the car from her. I was 28 at the time. I did some work to it, and drove it across country to Michigan in 1984. The engine came apart shortly after I got it back here, and it had been following me around as a garage ornament until 2015, when I retired from Ford, and went to work on it again. So why does a Ford guy own a DeSoto? Well, I was an engineer at Ford, and I am a lifelong student of the evolution of car technology. This DeSoto is a pretty interesting example of the changes that took place in the early 1950's.

Here is a photo of the car on a trailer when I picked it up in May of 1980 at the original owner's house in Prineville, Oregon. That is the original owner in the background standing by her house. She and her husband had bought the car new in July of 1952 from Roy Burnett Motors in Portland, Oregon.


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Mildred Holloran Watching her 1952 DeSoto Leave.jpg
Mildred Holloran Watching her 1952 DeSoto Leave.jpg [ 431.41 KiB | Viewed 820 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
Owner of a 1952 Desoto Firedome


Last edited by BrentJacobsen on Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:38 am, edited 3 times in total.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:14 am 
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
Here is a photo of the car in Portland after I got it running. This photo was taken in the spring of 1980. You may be able to make out the 1956 Oregon Plate. Oregon had not done a mandatory replate since 1956. In fact, they still haven't!


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1952 DeSoto at garden Home Road before restore.jpg
1952 DeSoto at garden Home Road before restore.jpg [ 512.32 KiB | Viewed 819 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
Owner of a 1952 Desoto Firedome


Last edited by BrentJacobsen on Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:14 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2015 5:19 pm
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
While I was working for Ford in Michigan, I had some engine work done to the car out in Oregon. It was finished in 1983, and in the spring of 1984 I drove the car to Michigan from Portland. Here are a couple photos of the car before I left Oregon. I had already titled the car in Michigan.


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1952 DeSoto Country Road Left Rear Quarter View.jpg
1952 DeSoto Country Road Left Rear Quarter View.jpg [ 154.81 KiB | Viewed 815 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
Owner of a 1952 Desoto Firedome


Last edited by BrentJacobsen on Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:17 am 
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Right Front View.


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1952 DeSoto Country Road Right Front View.jpg
1952 DeSoto Country Road Right Front View.jpg [ 201.03 KiB | Viewed 814 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
Owner of a 1952 Desoto Firedome


Last edited by BrentJacobsen on Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:19 am 
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
The engine suffered a failure in the summer of 1984 less than two months after I brought it back. The oil pump relief valve cover came loose, fell out, and the engine lost oil pressure. It failed a rod bearing before I could pull off the Detroit freeway. I didn't disassemble the car until 1991 to discover this. But I did find another crank and get it ground .010 under ready for a rebuild. But things intervened. I towed the car behind me from house to house as a garage ornament or more accurately a garage shelf, for another 24 years.

Here is the car as a garage shelf


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DeSoto as Garage Shelf.JPG
DeSoto as Garage Shelf.JPG [ 2.46 MiB | Viewed 813 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
Owner of a 1952 Desoto Firedome


Last edited by BrentJacobsen on Sun Oct 01, 2017 7:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:13 am 
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
What do you think are the chances that will ever run again?


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Will it ever run again.JPG
Will it ever run again.JPG [ 2.4 MiB | Viewed 812 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
Owner of a 1952 Desoto Firedome
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:33 am 
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Well, actually it did. it took me most of the summer of 2015, but here is the engine now.


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1952 DeSoto Engine Left Side.JPG
1952 DeSoto Engine Left Side.JPG [ 2.48 MiB | Viewed 811 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
Owner of a 1952 Desoto Firedome
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:36 am 
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And here is the owner, now 65 years old, with his 52 at the 2017 Ypsilanti Orphan car show.


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Old guy with old car..jpg
Old guy with old car..jpg [ 1.45 MiB | Viewed 810 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
Owner of a 1952 Desoto Firedome
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:51 pm 
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Here is a front left quarter view of the '52 Firedome parked next to Les' car. Notice the roofline of the Sportsman model. From 1950-1952 the Sportsman was made by welding a steel roof onto a convertible body structure. Comparing the vent windows with those on Les' car show his are taller than mine. The convertible and Sportsman cars used a much shorter windshield header. My car uses 11 inch wiper blades! Notice the drip molding that runs around the front of the car resulting in the unexpected breakpoint for the two-tone.


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Brent Jacobsen's 1952 DeSoto Firedome Sportsman Left Front.JPG
Brent Jacobsen's 1952 DeSoto Firedome Sportsman Left Front.JPG [ 1.88 MiB | Viewed 793 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:01 pm 
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
Here is a left rear quarter view of the '52 Firedome next to Les' car at the 2017 Orphan car show. All of the die-cast chrome parts on this car were "Korean War Chrome" that is they were flash plated with a two-step rather than 3-step process, and then coated with an early form of urethane. Over time the urethane turned gray. Attempts to polish it just removed it as it had become soft. The revealed flash chrome quickly oxidized leaving pretty awful looking chrome. That will be expensive to fix. The peculiar "V" ornaments on this car have perplexed me since I bought it. The original owner said they were on the car when they bought it. I've not found any other car with these on them. I am inclined to believe they were some sort of dealer customizing. The front "V" is contoured exactly to the curve of the hood. The V's were even done in Korean war chrome!


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Brent Jacobsen's 1952 DeSoto Firedome Sportsman Left Rear.JPG
Brent Jacobsen's 1952 DeSoto Firedome Sportsman Left Rear.JPG [ 1.86 MiB | Viewed 792 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
Owner of a 1952 Desoto Firedome
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:11 pm 
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI United States
Here is the dashboard of the '52 taken at the 2017 Orphan car show. Notice the little brown dots on the middle of the instrument pod center buttons. Les' car doesn't have those. Neither does Mark Waite's Firedome. Also notice the chrome shift knob on the gearshift lever. That is part of an aftermarket accessory called the "Easy-Shift" system. There is a button in the end of the knob. When depressed, the button completes the same ground as the WOT button on the carburetor, forcing a downshift. Nice feature for when you come up to a green light and make a turn and then want to accelerate from 15 MPH and find yourself in high gear.


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Brent Jacobsen's 1952 DeSoto Firedome Sportsman Dash.JPG
Brent Jacobsen's 1952 DeSoto Firedome Sportsman Dash.JPG [ 1.83 MiB | Viewed 790 times ]

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Brent Jacobsen
Owner of a 1952 Desoto Firedome
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