- Written by webmin
Now here’s something you just don’t see every day: a very stylish 1956 De Soto Firedome six-passenger station wagon. We ran across this largely unrestored example on an overcast day at the 2009 All-Chrysler Nationals at Carlisle – a vehicle that, at the time, was under the watchful eye of a Pennsylvania resident and member of the National De Soto Club.
According to the owner’s signage, the car had been purchased new from the V. Montone dealership (in Hazleton, Pennsylvania) in December 1955 by the D.A. Kessler Construction Company; the car was then driven until 1965 when it was put into storage for the following 41 years. Other than the necessary mechanical maintenance required for reliable driving, it has not been touched since being placed in storage.
Its 54-year saga aside, De Soto limited wagon offerings to this single model, the total production of which numbered just 2,950 examples, which was actually a moderately healthy increase over 1955’s 1,803 copies. Like other members of the Firedome family, the wagon was powered by a 230hp 330.4-cu.in. V-8, which could have included a three-speed manual, overdrive or PowerFlite automatic transmission with its build.
Certainly a more refined look than the previous year – with regards to the grille/front end – one note of interest is the quarter panels on this wagon. I wish I had taken a shot of the back end to demonstrate better, but you’ll note that unlike the rest of the Firedome line (as well as the Fireflite and Adventurer), the “fin” is actually a sizable, bolt-on piece of chrome-plated trim that also appeared to incorporate the taillamp assembly. Also, note the cowl air induction, which by the mid-Fifties a number of other automakers had eliminated.
Though De Soto station wagon production had been quite low through the early Fifties, the company must have believed in the body style. For the 1957 model year, a six- and nine-passenger wagon was offered in the new Firesweep series, as well as the Fireflite series, with total production reaching a combined 5,239 examples. De Soto’s last year of wagon production was 1959.
The price of a ‘56 De Soto wagon when new was $3,371. Today, the books tell us that they will range from $7,500 (low) to $33,000 (concours condition #1) when they pop up for sale…though it may not be unusual to fine one in good shape for less than $7,000.