Thursday, January 8, 2015

Styling Crime: 1956 DeSoto Facelift

Not a big crime, mind you.  Petty, actually.  But nevertheless a crime so far as I am concerned because, as I posted here, I like the styling of the 1955 DeSoto very much, and the 1956 facelift significantly degraded it.  (For some DeSoto history, click here.)

Now for a confession.  My father bought a 1956 DeSoto Firedome four-door hardtop convertible.  But I don't hold it against him because 1956 was the year he wanted a new car, and you have to get what's offered.


1955 DeSotos - auction photos from Barrett-Jackson
These images of the nicely styled 1955 model are here for comparison to the images of the 1956 facelift below.

DeSoto advertisement
This shows the relatively small tail fins Chrysler Corporation placed on its 1956 cars to help prepare the public for the larger, more striking fins on its redesigned 1957 line.  Still, tacking them onto the graceful rear fender line created some awkwardness that the cleverly done revised side trim couldn't completely disguise.

1956 DeSoto Fireflite - Barrett-Jackson auction photo
Besides the new tail fins, the major change was the elimination of the traditional vertical grille bars.

1956 DeSoto grille - Daniel Schmitt sales photo
A better view of the grille.  Parking lights were moved to the flimsy bumper guards in an effort to justify the continuation of the flowing line of the top of the grille opening.  The replacement of the vertical bars (or "teeth," if you will) by a mesh cheapened the ensemble considerably.

1956 DeSoto Adventurer - sales photo
From the rear, the side trim helps make for a dramatic effect in this photo.  But the white paint conceals the rear fender line and the awkwardness the fins introduced.  The tail light group also comes off as a bit cheap-looking.  The panel behind the lights is simply a textured, flat surface and what seem to be exhaust pipe outlets blow them are black-painted bumper indentations.

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