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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 18: Chrysler kills the DeSoto brand on this date in 1960


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From its inception in 1928 as an affordable alternative to Chrysler's luxury cars, the DeSoto brand had a bit of an identity problem — mainly because immediately after its creation, Chrysler bought Dodge, giving it two brands aimed at the same buyers.

 Chrysler fixed that problem by making DeSoto upscale, and in doing so nearly cratered the brand in the '30s with odd designs. DeSoto thrived in the '50s with Virgil Exner styling flourishes like the triple stacked taillights, but the recession at the end of the decade made the name an indulgence the company could no longer afford.

 On this date in 1960, Chrysler sent a telegram to its dealers saying DeSoto production was ending; a fire sale of 1961 models introduced weeks earlier would last through the rest of the year. Here's Rock Hudson showing off one of DeSoto's many unheralded late innovations, the swiveling driver's seat.