Monday, November 9, 2015

DeSoto's First Hardtop Convertible

A while ago I wrote about General Motors' first generation of hardtop convertibles -- convertible-like bodies to which a steel roof with a panoramic backlight ensemble was added.  Shortly after, I presented examples of hardtops introduced by competitors in reaction to the popularity of the GM design.

One competitor I didn't mention because it was similar to other Chrysler Corporation hardtops was the 1950 DeSoto Custom Sportsman.  Since then, I came across a nice set of sales-related photos of the DeSoto that provide a fairly comprehensive study of the design.

Here they are:


1950 DeSoto Custom Sportsman - sales photos
Viewed from the perspective of 65 years after it appeared, DeSoto's Sportsman hardtop is a fairly attractive car.  Yes, it has plenty of chrome on the grille and rear fender rock guards, but otherwise is restrained from an ornamentation standpoint.  What these photos tend to hide is the fact that 1949-52 model year DeSotos and other Chrysler Corporation cars had a heavy, boxy look when seen in person due in part to their actual size as well because of their styling.

1950 Pontiac Catalina - auction photo
I include this photo of a contemporary General Motors hardtop to illustrate the previous point.  The Pontiac has a more graceful basic body shape.  Its curved, two-piece windshield added a touch of modernity that the flat windshield panes of the DeSoto lacked.  Although the design differences between these two cars might appear small to us in 2015, back in 1950 when the cars were new, the DeSoto and its siblings had an old-fashioned air about them when compared to their sleeker rivals.

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