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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:34 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:43 pm
Posts: 959
Tim's handiwork is on display once again as Bruce Blackwell's '56 DeSoto Adventurer is the feature call in an HMN online weekly newsletter story about the DeSoto Adventurer. Here is a link to the story: ... =hccweekly

Refined Muscle - De Soto Adventurer
De Soto's illustrious high-performance car-the Adventurer

Image 2 of 5: 1957
Image 3 of 5: 1958
Image 4 of 5: 1959
Image 5 of 5: 1960

Refined Muscle - De Soto Adventurer from Hemmings Classic Car

February, 2017 - Richard Lentinello

Style and performance. Those were the primary hallmark characteristics of De Soto's new Adventurer model for the 1956 model year. Introduced in February, although it was only in production for five years, the Adventurer quickly became a highly sought-after automobile for those buyers looking for luxury and performance in a single package, but with a dose of exclusivity thrown in. With only 15,662 Adventurers built during its entire production run, they were fairly rare when they were new, so now, after some six decades, it's a real treat to view one today. They truly are special automobiles.

The name Adventurer was borrowed from the two Chrysler concept cars that were introduced back in 1954, both of which were crafted in Italy by Carrozzeria Ghia. Virgil Exner designed Adventurer I, which was the most conservatively styled of the two cars, while Adventurer II had that "supersonic" fastback shape that Ghia-styled sports cars were then given. While the production-based Adventurers look nothing like either of those two concept cars, the name signaled something new, exciting and exceptional.

Marketed as a sub-series of the Fireflite line, the Adventurer model was so superior to all its other De Soto stablemates mainly because of one singular component--its engine. Each Adventurer was equipped with the most powerful engine that De Soto ever fitted to its cars, all of which featured a dual-quad carburetor setup. The first-year Adventurer had a Fireflite V-8 that had been modified with a larger bore, although the stroke remained the same. Now with a 3.78 x 3.80 bore and stroke, the increased displacement totaled 341.4 cubic inches, and had a compression ratio of 9.25:1. Yet its hallmark feature was its dual four-barrel Carter WCFB carburetors, which were complemented by a high-lift camshaft and a revised intake manifold with enlarged ports that allowed it to develop a very healthy 320 horsepower at 5,200 RPM. Other features included a shot-peened crankshaft, heavy-duty connecting rods, stiffer valve springs and dual exhausts.

A two-door hardtop body style was the only way an Adventurer could be had during the 1956 model run, but that changed when the 1957 models were introduced with the availability of a two-door hardtop and a convertible; production figures show that 1,650 hardtops were built versus just 300 convertibles. The 1957-spec dual-quad V-8's displacement had been increased to 345 cubic inches, and sporting the same 9.25 compression it now developed a very healthy 345 horsepower at 5,200 RPM. The options list was now quite extensive, and included a non-slip differential for an extra $50; dual exhausts remained a standard Adventurer feature, as did power brakes, TorqueFlite automatic transmission, dual rear antennas and dual exterior mirrors among others. Factory list price for the hardtop was $3,997 with the convertible's price set at a then-mighty $4,272, which was nearly $1,000 more than the similarly styled Firedome convertible.

For the 1958 model year, the big news which took Detroit by storm was the introduction of the optional Bendix fuel injection system; however, few Adventurers were ordered with it as it was a costly unit at $637.20. Those cars that were fitted with this then-complex system were soon retrofitted with the standard dual-quad Carter carburetor setup. The engine's displacement was increased again, this time to 361 cubic inches, and had a sizable bump in compression to a full 10.0:1 ratio. Although the horsepower rating remained the same at 345, it hit its peak 200 RPM lower at the 5,000 RPM mark. The Adventurer hardtop's base price was increased to $4,071, and just 350 examples were sold. The convertible's price tag was now $4,369, which may explain why only 82 cars were built, thus making the 1958 convertible the rarest of all Adventurers made.

Production of De Soto's high-performance luxury car increased slightly for the 1959 model year. The hardtop version saw a production run of 590 units at a cost of $4,427; it was the second-most expensive De Soto that year, and about $70 more than the top-of-the-line nine-passenger Fireflite station wagon. The big price increase was with the convertible Adventurer, as its base surged to a hefty $4,749. Although its production was more than the previous year's model, with just 97 units built, it still didn't reach the three-figure mark. The Adventurer's engine capacity grew again, this time to a then-mighty 383 cubic inches. With the 1959-spec engine's compression ratio increased ever so slightly to 10.1:1, and still being fed by a pair of four-barrel Carter carburetors, its horsepower rating had a small increase to 350 at 5,000 RPM.

With De Soto's demise looming on the horizon, the 1960 model year would be the last for the Adventurer. With the Firesweep and Firedome lines no longer in production, the Adventurer series became a shadow of its former self. It was now less expensive than the previous year's Fireflite, but it was still De Soto's top model.

As odd as it may seem during its last year of production, the Adventurer was now available in three different body styles: the two-door hardtop (3,092 built), four-door sedan (5,746 built) and a four-door hardtop (2,759 built); a convertible version was no longer offered. And with the Firesweep and Firedome no longer available in De Soto showrooms, Adventurer production numbers rose to their highest level ever.

There were now two engines being offered to 1960 Adventurer buyers: The base powertrain was the previous year's 383-cubic-inch V-8, which was now called the Adventurer Mark I, but instead of the usual dual-quad carburetor setup, it now had a single Carter four-barrel, thus it developed only 305 horsepower at 4,600 RPM. The big muscle engine, and it was truly loaded with muscle, was the new Mopar Ramcharger. This mighty V-8 featured two four-barrel carburetors on Chrysler's new long-runner intake manifold, which allowed it to develop 325 horsepower at 4,600 RPM and a whole lot of torque; the Ramcharger V-8 was available only on the Adventurer.

With its trademark simulated gold accents, luxurious options and powerful, high-horsepower V-8 engines, the Adventurer was a car built for those buyers who enjoyed and appreciated distinctive, fast motoring with a proud American nameplate on its hood. Too bad it was only available for five short years. But as stated in the De Soto sales literature, "Pure ride, pride and pleasure." And it was.

1956: 996
1957: 1,950
1958: 432
1959: 687
1960: 11,597
Total: 15,662

This article originally appeared in the February, 2017 issue of Hemmings Classic Car.

HMN DeSoto Adventurer 022118.pdf [218.67 KiB]
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:33 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:06 pm
Posts: 58
For accuracy, I just want to point out the standard misprint of the total number of 1959 Adventurer coupes built. The 590 figure should be 602. This was not only verified in a letter by Chrysler Corporation (Bob Terpak has this letter), but Alan Ralston also owned VIN #699. With the Adventurers getting their own VIN series, #699 would confirm 602 hardtops and 97 convertibles as being the correct figures.

I also noticed that it says the base engine for the 1960 Adventurer is the 383 4 bbl rated at 305 horsepower with the crossram optional and good for 325 horsepower. That's not true on two counts - both the base engine and the horsepower ratings. The base engine was actually the 383 2 bbl (and the most common), which was rated at 305 hp, with the 383 4 bbl engine being optional at 325 hp, and the crossram set-up being also optional at 330 hp.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:31 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:04 am
Posts: 1088
Location: Windom, KS
While I always love attention drawn to our work, this article about the Adventurer series doesn't feature Bruce's car.

The '56 shown is a beauty for sure!

It's supposed to be fun!
1949 De Soto Custom Convertible (project)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:06 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:01 am
Posts: 247
Adventurer Mark I ? Ramcharger ? I've never heard these terms used to refer to 60 Desoto engines. Would someone like to confirm ?

And David is right. My friend's 40K original 60 Adventurer came with a 2bbl carb.

It bothers me how inaccurate 'the bible of the old car hobby' can be.


PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:06 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:06 pm
Posts: 58
Ron, the terms for the 4 bbl and dual 4 bbl engines are "Mark I" and "Ram Charge", respectively. I knew the Mark I term was correct as my grandpa has that engine in his '60 Adventurer, but had to look up the crossram term to make sure I got it right.

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