Virtually every classic car enthusiast knows DeSoto as Chrysler’s quirky mid-lux division. And while the brand was originally envisioned as a stepping stone to the corporation’s namesake luxury marque, it also spawned both performance and economy models to fend off internal competition from Dodge and Plymouth. That means the 50s power monsters Mopar enthusiasts know and love often have more exclusive counterparts like this stylish 1957 Adventurer coupe. Wrapping a hot 345 cubic inch Hemi V8 and a stalwart Torqueflite pushbutton transmission in a tailored interior and a ton of stylish sheetmetal, this all-American cruiser HAS to be some of the coolest metal on the planet! And with only 1,649 companion cars produced, it’s likely some of the rarest Detroit iron ever produced. For fans of unique cars, it doesn’t get much better than an Exner era Chrysler. And if you’re a discerning collector who’s itching for a classic big-fin Mopar that’ll be the star of every cruise night in town, this ’57 DeSoto is your ticket!
Based on legendary designer Virgil Exner’s ‘Forward Look’ body, DeSoto’s Adventurer was introduced to supplement the brand’s well-known Fireflite series and, according to many classic car enthusiasts, is some of the finest metal to ever leave an American design studio. The spectacular code L Surf White and code P Adventurer Gold example you see here was assembled at Chrysler’s Detroit, Michigan manufacturing facility and currently wears a clean, high quality restoration that has been exceptionally maintained. Its long, low and wide body reflects a smooth two-stage finish that exhibits minimal signs of wear and no major defects. It’s re-chromed original bumpers and polished original stainless look almost as good as the day they left the showroom. And despite what some might call exaggerated proportions and excessive brightwork, this graceful coupe is every bit as striking as it is handsome!
Although DeSoto’s original Adventurer concept was introduced as a high performance four seater, the car was initially sold as a traditional coupe and convertible. And by 1957, the brand had leveraged its sister divisions’ chassis and fender lines to create the well-received FlightSweep design theme that manifested itself in interesting aesthetics and creative detailing. At the front of this coupe’s sculpted body, a thick bumper centers a gold eggcrate grille below chrome-trimmed headlights and “diluted” hood ornamentation. At the sides of the car’s body, clean fenders flow into traditional fins behind great looking Adventurer-exclusive color sweeps and bright “Adventurer” scripts. At the top of the car, a jet-inspired windshield and like-new greenhouse glass ride between cleverly placed mirrors, a pillarless hardtop and dual power antennas. And at the back of the car, a “DESOTO” branded deck lid anchors stylish stainless trim spears between rocket-inspired tail lights and a second big bumper that’s complete with fully integrated exhaust ports.
Recognized as the first European to cross our famed Mississippi River, Hernando de Soto was considered North America’s ultimate adventurer. As such, the Adventurer series became the DeSoto line’s ultimate offering. And this car’s classy metal moves thanks to an exclusive Hemispherical V8 that wears a correct S26-A-2311 engine stamp and turns hearty 9.5 to 1 compression into a stout 345 horsepower. Clocking in at 345 cubic inches, this square-bore mill was introduced as a slightly massaged match for Chrysler’s renowned letter cars. The copy you see here appears to wear a roster of correct pieces from its freshly decaled Mopar air cleaners and high performance Carter carburetors all the way to its heavy duty radiator and green cap Mopar battery. Fire is provided by a traditional points distributor which sequences sparks between a tagged generator and modern Taylor plug wires. And combustion comes courtesy of a high performance camshaft which breathes through a correct intake and fully restored exhaust manifolds. Aesthetically, the engine’s fresh aluminum paint contrasts well against the car’s Surf White firewall and satin black hood. And little details like fresh chrome valve covers, vivid “DESOTO FIREFLITE EIGHT” call-outs, correct squeeze clamps and a pair of fully restored horns round out the car’s natural eyeball appeal.
The 1957 DeSoto was “the car that makes yesterday seem years ago”. Accordingly, the division’s marketing gurus drowned the print world in ads touting the brand’s new Torsion-Aire Suspension. And surprisingly, that statement still holds true today as this big boulevard king sits on a super fresh chassis that veils pothole-shattering solidity in a silky smooth ride. Behind the FireFlite V8, a slick-shifting A727 Torqueflite 3-speed automatic sends power to a correct rear end. That tough driveline spins in a fully restored undercarriage that’s complete with Chrysler’s robust torsion bars and stiff outrider springs. At the corners of that undercarriage, heavy duty power drum brakes ensure solid, fade free stops. At the center of the car’s solid floors, a traditional true dual exhaust system employs fresh turbo mufflers that sound deep and civilized. And all this road-worthy hardware rides on old school wire wheels which spin pliable 235/75R15 Firestone FR721 whitewall tires.
Take a look inside this coupe and you’ll find a spacious and airy environment that has enough room to haul the whole family in comfort! Front and rear bench seats, which still feel firm to the touch, prop an attractive combination of two-tone vinyl under plaid centerpieces. Like-new carpet, which is sprinkled front to back with awesome gold flecks, does an excellent job of highlighting rich and luxurious ambiance. Above that carpet, a Surf White dash hangs a fresh gray pad, fully rebuilt gauges, triple-range pushbutton transmission controls and a correct AM radio over a prominent Big Daddy Don Garlits autograph. At the sides of that dash, fantastic tri-tone door panels display a prominent 50s design theme behind fresh stainless trim, bright chrome handles and sculpted plaid armrests. Above those panels, chrome A-pillar covers lead the eye to an Ivory headliner that’s lined with stainless, Adventurer-exclusive roof bows. In front of the driver, a two-tone steering wheel spins a chrome horn ring around an intricate DeSoto logo. And behind the passengers, an “Adventurer” branded package tray hangs over a giant, fully restored trunk that features echo-inducing cargo space.
This classy DeSoto is a super cool cruiser that’s easy to imagine as the focal point of a cross-country road trip. With its burly V8, tailored interior and dramatic styling, it represents the pinnacle of American styling and manufacturing dominance. If you’re looking for a top-notch classic that’ll draw a crowd wherever it goes, your search is officially over!