Don C 1956 DeSoto Firedome 4dr Sedan

The DeSoto That Almost Killed Me

In 1965 I was 16 years old and in need of a car for a summer job. My father knew the owner of an auto salvage yard in Milwaukee. So he gave me $50 and told me to go down to his shop and pick out a car. My cousin (same age as me) and I walked into the cramped and cluttered shop to find the cigar chomping owner sitting behind an ancient desk. He then threw a cigar box full of keys at us and said "you can have any car that you can get started". We went out to the yard and tried to start several cars including a 57 Chevy, 52 Ford and a 49 Lincoln. No luck with these and all were dead. Finally, we were able to start a battleship grey 59 Plymouth and I had my first car. It must have had 200,000 miles on it and smoked like crazy. Two weeks later we were late for work and I floored the old Plymouth for more speed and promptly threw a rod clean threw the ancient block. The old gal was towed back to the salvage yard whereupon the colorful owner threw me the cigar box of keys and told me to pick out another car....for another $50 of course. This time we managed to start a 56 DeSoto with a hemi. Unfortunately, the floor boards and trunk were completely rusted through; none of the dash gauges worked; tires were flat and brakes were questionable. The car was a death trap but that hemi still had a lot of life. It still screamed and was a lot of fun...for awhile. Two weeks later, the brakes failed exiting the freeway whereupon the car flew about 30' in the air and landed in a muddy area adjacent to the off ramp which probably saved my life. At this point in time, my mother stepped in and told my father in no uncertain terms that she didn't want to bury her oldest son. So my father gave me $75 and told me to have Mr. Salvage owner find me a better vehicle to last the summer. That final car was a 62 Volkswagon which used more oil than gas. Despite not being able to turn the heater off during a 90 degree summer, it managed to last until school started again then back to the salvage yard. So, in 1965, I had 3 cars within 3 months for a total of $175. I'm still amazed that I survived.

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