Our next feature car is a bit of a rarity around these parts, it’s Tony McCarthy’s 1960 Desoto Adventurer. Desoto was founded by Walter P Chrysler on August 4th 1928 and was introduced to the market in 1929; it was named after the Spanish explorer Hernando Soto. Chrysler wanted to compete with its Arch-rivals GM and Studebaker in the mid priced car range.Shortly after Desoto was introduced Chrysler completed its purchase of the Dodge brothers company. This now gave them two mid priced models and had the transaction been completed sooner Desoto might have never been introduced.
At its height Desoto’s more popular models included the Firedome, Firesweep, Firelite and of course our feature model the Desoto Adventurer introduced for the 1956 market as a high performance hard top coupe and became a full range model in 1960. As like today’s economic climate the downturn in 1958 saw the sales of Desoto’s mid priced cars drop by 60 percent, the sales slide continued through 1959 and 1960, and rumours began to circulate that Desoto was going to be discontinued. The final decision to cease production of the Desoto was announced on November 30 1960, just 47 days after the 1961 models were introduced. At the time the Chrysler warehouse contained several million dollars in 61 Desoto parts, despite been a successful mid priced line for Chrysler for most of its life the Desoto destruction was due to a combination of corporate mistakes and external factors beyond Chryslers control.
Tony McCarthy’s 1960 Desoto was probably one of Desoto finest designs, with long sweeping lines from the front of the car right through to the tail fins and rear lights. Tony purchased this beautiful car in January of 2009, striking a deal with another well known American car enthusiast Eddie Galvin. Tony and Eddie swapped cars. Tony at the time had a 1975 Camaro and wanted to get away from the muscle car phase and wanted to move more towards a cruiser. Eddie owned the Desoto since 2006, were he bought it from another well known personality in the American car scene called Charles Cummins. Charles imported the car from Wales in 2002 and did a full restoration on it bringing it back to its formal glory.
Tony is no stranger to American cars and has always owned one or more since 2002 when he had a 1978 Trans Am and since then a 1980 Firebird, a 1969 Firebird, a 1974 Firebird(Rat Rod), a 1975 Camaro and currently owns along with the Desoto an ex US Army 1977 Dodge M880(Ram). So his taste in diverse to say the least. Tony bought the car in its current condition and needed to do very little work to it, he removed the front bumper and sent it to the UK for re-chroming. Four weeks later the bumper was returned with the company explaining that they were unable to re-chrome it as it was too large. Tony was disappointed with this but decided to get the bumper powder coated to get rid of the rusted chrome look and while the bumper was in the UK the car got a full service with new brakes also fitted and last but not least the interior got a quick tidy. Tony is still looking to get the bumper replaced or re-chromed in the near future and paint the inside of the bonnet as this is in the original colour of the car which is a lighter shade of green. The interior needs a small bit of re-upholstery and the car will be complete.
I was lucky enough to get a spin in the car when we travelled to find a spot to take a few pictures for the Feature and I most say I found it more spacious and comfortable than most modern cars that I have been in. From speaking to Tony he reckons his favourite part of the car is the front end with its large imposing bumper and even larger grille and in his own words this one is a keeper. It’s powered by a 6.3 litre 383 V8, with a 3-speed Powerflite transmission and power brakes. The car is very original with its original radio, it has an electric bench seat which is fantastic to see operate.
This Desoto is in the right hands now with Tony McCarthy, as I have never seen it looking so good. I am sure Tony will knock many more years of motoring out of this one
Jason O Driscoll