1960 DeSoto Fireflite Two-Door Hardtop
Chassis no. 7103110818
361ci OHV V8 Engine
Single 2-barrel Carter Carburetor
295bhp at 4,600rpm
3-Speed TorqueFlite Automatic Transmission
Front Independent Suspension - Solid Rear Axle
4-Wheel Drum Brakes
*Original and well-preserved example
*In the first owner's hands for 40 years
*Three owners from new
*Driven just over 42,000 miles
*A dramatic example of 'The Forward Look'
The DeSoto Fireflite
1960 was the final full model year for the DeSoto brand, as the division was closed down shortly after the introduction of the 1961 models. There were only two lines offered in 1960, the Fireflite and the Adventurer. It is somewhat ironic that the styling similarity between Chryslers and DeSotos is often given as another of the many reasons DeSoto struggled for recognition in the market, as the bold, yet clean detailing on the DeSoto arguably shows off Virgil Exner's dramatic 'fleetwing styling' more elegantly than does the Chrysler.
A lack of brand discipline and cohesive marketing strategy at Chrysler Corporation in the mid-to-late 1950s is certainly at the heart of the death of the once-proud DeSoto brand. With luxurious Dodge models and inexpensive Chrysler models crowding the 'mid-price' DeSoto from both ends, it was inevitable that something would have to give.
The Motorcar Offered
This lovely DeSoto Fireflite coupe was delivered to its first owner, Mr. George Petricek on February 19, 1960 by Marshall & Clampett Motors on Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Petricek was especially proud of his big, stylish new hardtop as it was the first new car he had ever purchased. It is no surprise that he lavished care and attention on the DeSoto, even giving it a name - 'Desi DeSoto'. Mr. Petricek never lost his passion for his sleek coupe and maintained it carefully and lovingly, always garaged and regularly serviced, even when he could no longer drive at the age of 85. Neighbors recalled him cleaning and polishing his automotive jewel even after he stopped driving; 'Desi' was still in his possession when he passed away at 92 years old in 2000.
At the time the DeSoto was sold by his estate, Mr. Petricek had driven just over 40,000 miles since sliding behind the wheel for the first time in February, 1960. The current owner, only the third, has cared for 'Desi' for the past 11 years. On a recent test drive by a Bonhams specialist, this remarkably preserved example was observed to have only 42,562 original miles and was remarkable to behold. The original Yuma Yellow paint remains softly lustrous and the three-tone cloth and vinyl seats appear to be those in a gently used late-model used car, not showing the kind of wear one might expect in a 54 year-old model; the rear seat appears to have hardly been sat in at all. Master stylist Virgil Exner's sparing use of chrome on this sweeping design gives it a clean, dramatic look, and the bright trim it does possess retains much of the gleam it wore when it left the factory. Original accessory dual rear view mirrors grace the fenders and the Trans Audio AM radio works perfectly.
Other time-warp touches visible on this very special DeSoto are the original antenna adjustment instruction tag hanging from the dashboard, original jack instructions inside the trunk and the original business card of the service manager at Marshall & Clampett Motors is stapled into the original owner's manual. The original California 'pink slip' registration is present with the car as are all subsequent registrations from 1971- present. While the tires have been replaced and some minor freshening given to the engine compartment, this Fireflite is proudly as-delivered and as cared for through its three owners from new.
A vintage Sears tire sticker dated 2/19/75 and 29,343 miles and an Arco service sticker dated 9/26/84 and 39,240 miles in the door jambs help to confirm the recorded mileage. The power steering, power brakes and strong pull of the 361ci V8 make this DeSoto a delight to drive. Now it is time for a new owner to enjoy the experience of this remarkably preserved piece of Americana. That they will be only the fourth custodian of this beautifully conserved piece of MoPar history will make those miles with 'Desi' even sweeter.