1959 DeSoto Firesweep Sportsman
2dr Hardtop Coupe
8-cyl. 361cid/290hp 2bbl
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Firesweep was a new line for entry-level DeSoto products in 1957. The car was entirely based on a Dodge chassis and mechanicals, but the look -- especially the tailfins -- was pure DeSoto.<\p>
Responding to the styling wars of the mid-1950s, DeSoto completely revamped the bodywork and engineering across its entire lineup in this year. The new look for the veteran automaker was long and sleek and highly styled, with color sweeps and heavy bumpers with acres of chrome. Three vertically mounted round taillights per side accentuated the fins. The 1958 model year was a continuation of the previous year, with only minor changes. The following year saw more changes, but these did not materially alter the look of the car.<\p>
The Firesweep series was available as a 2-door "Sportsman" hardtop coupe, a 4-door sedan or hardtop, and a 4-door wagon for 6 or 9 passengers. DeSoto enjoyed a reputation for quality and value, and this spurred sales of over 40,000 units. Sedans were the most popular, with over 17,000 sold, followed by the attractive 2-door hardtop coupe at over 13,000 units sold. The 9-passenger wagon was the rarest, with only 1,198 leaving the factory.<\p>
A 2-door convertible was added for the 1958 model year and carried through the end of the line in 1959. The 1958 year was difficult for DeSoto generally, with only about 18,000 Firesweep models sold, and about the same number in 1959. Only 700 convertibles were made in 1958, and just 596 in 1959.<\p>
Engine power for 1957 was Dodge’s reliable 325-cid V-8 engine, rated at 245 hp. A four-barrel “powerpack” carburetor was available, which raised horsepower to 260. For the 1958 model year, DeSoto upgraded the Firesweep to a 350-cid V-8 at 280 hp, with the four-barrel power pack again available. For the Firesweep's final year, DeSoto turned to the 361-cid Chrysler V-8 at 295 hp, with an available "Adventurer" dual four-barrel option in the 383-cid V-8 at 350 hp.<\p>
Like almost all cars of its era, the Firesweep came standard with a 3-speed column-shifted manual transmission. Customers could opt for a 3-speed Torqueflight automatic, however. Collectors should look for quality first, but with that understood, it should not be hard to find a hardtop as these were second only to the sedans in popularity. For best value today, it would be hard to beat one of the rare convertible models, or even one of the station wagons. A 1959 convertible with the Adventurer option may be the rarest Firesweep to own.<\p>