1955 DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman
Firelfite meaning 4 bbl Hemi, leather upholstery, top of the line auto.
Sportsman meaning 2 door hardtop.
I found this car while enroute from CA to CO, trolling with an empty trailer through Cedar City Utah in 2007. Parked out in front of a shop, no grille, no motor, no sign, but I waited for the shop to open, bought the car, and trailered it home.
Since then, there has been so much done to the car, I cant even tell you how much has been invested. Some of it shows, some is done and just ready to bolt back on after the car gets some paint. The car is luckily not very rusty. Where it is rusty, you can see it. The underside, the floors, the trunk, the structure is all very solid. The doors and fenders are good. There is some rust in the rear quarters.
I have probably two and a half sets of trim, some is already straightened, polished, and still in wrapping. I have enough grille parts to have on complete grille, and short three teeth of having a full second spare.
I picked up a correct 1955 Hemi and tranny from a friend, and had it rebuilt. It was not right so the builder rebuilt it again. Still not right, he knew it, he gave up and returned the car to me. Another guy built it the third time, again, not right, smoke, compression loss, it sat. The tranny had been rebuilt by a guy in Golden CO, who was bling from birth, but had attended tranny school in the 50’s and rebuilt tranny’s for police and highway departments for decades. He did mine and it seemed ok.
Eventually, we came up with an idea that evolved from NASCAR racing history. In 1956, Carl Kiekhaefer converted his fleet of 55 Chryslers to 3 speed manual transmissions, and Tim Flock led the season with most wins and set a Flying Mile speed record of 139.4 MPH at Daytona Beach.
In 2016, we pulled the bad luck 55 Hemi engine and replaced it with a freshly built 1956 DeSoto Hemi engine (50 additional HP). We also pulled the cast iron 2 speed Torqueflite tranny, and installed a factory correct 3 speed manual tranny, clutch pedal, shifter, steering column, steering wheel, complete right down to the delete plate covering the dashboard shifter paddle associated with the automatic.
The car still needs paint.
Seats are recovered in red vinyl, which should last longer than the stock leather. Door panels are redone and need to be installed. Custom touch- each panel has two accent buttons. The buttons have been replaced with custom jewelry buttons made from Indian Head nickles (Two nickles, 5 and 5…Fifty-five…get it?) One side is all Indian heads the other side is the buffalo (obverse of the vintage coin). All heads and animals are facing forward…or you could say “Looking Forward”.
Tons of spare parts, including a 1956 dashboard and gages. The dash is the same and gages are the same except 55 are black face and 56 are white face. The car is still 6 volt. If you want to change it to 12 volt, you have the gages to swap out.
Runs and starts. Wiring is original and is bad, not to be trusted. May need to hot jump it to start until wiring is all replaces. Correct harnesses with modern plastic coated wires, and an overcoat of factory-looking cloth are available from Y and Z fabrications. Do the wiring and the car should be ready to drive. After that how far you want to go in restoration is up to you.
See 100 pics on Roysvintagecars site
|“Lots of work done, needs finishing” |
| Year: || 1955 || VIN (Vehicle Identification Number): || abcde |
| Mileage: || 100,000 || Interior Color: || Red |
| Make: || DeSoto || Number of Cylinders: || 8 |
| Model: || Fireflite || Transmission: || Manual |
| Trim: || Sportsman || Body Type: || Coupe |
| Engine: || 1956 330 Hemi || Warranty: || Vehicle does NOT have an existing warranty |
| Drive Type: || RWD || Vehicle Title: || Clear |
| For Sale By: || Private Seller || Exterior Color: || Red/White |