Shoebox Alternative – 1949 DeSoto Custom

Does it ever happen that you’re looking at a listing for a classic car, and you wonder why it’s so inexpensive? No doubt for most people it’s the opposite – why is this so expensive – but sometimes you come across a car that not only seems cheap, but also doesn’t appear to be bait for people hoping to steal your email address and sell it. Because if you were going to try to steal email addresses, you’d probably use the aforementioned expensive brands, not an orphan brand like DeSoto. Anyhow, proving that there must still be good values out there for the open-minded enthusiast is this 1949 DeSoto Custom for sale for $4000 in Redmond, OR.

1949 DeSoto Custom right side

But wait, you say to yourself, isn’t Redmond where Microsoft is headquartered in Washington state? Well, this isn’t a geography site, but apparently there are two, and who copied whom is an interesting question for another time. Quite a few of the more affordable post-war sedans like this DeSoto and its contemporaries, while they may be drivers, seem to suffer from aged finishes, but allowing for a little optimism, this black finish looks gorgeous on this car and really pops with the chrome trim. Curiously, the seller says the car has a flat six, and with no photos to indicate otherwise, we’ll have to assume the new owner would be welcome with open arms at any Porsche or Corvair show.

1949 DeSoto Custom front

The Custom was DeSoto’s top trim level, and other sources indicate it was powered by an L-head six-cylinder of 236.7ci, putting out 112hp for 1949. This particular car is equipped with the Fluid Drive transmission, a sort of halfway stop between an automatic and manual transmissions – it has the clutch and geared transmission found in a manual drivetrain, but is connected to the engine via a fluid coupling instead of a flywheel. This means that, when coming to a stop and pulling away, you don’t need to actually depress the clutch pedal, though if you came to stop in 3rd, pulling away would be painfully slow. Note the car’s beautiful grill and period blue-on-yellow Oregon plates.

1949 DeSoto Custom rear

More gorgeous detail in the back – art deco influenced tail lights, and a lovely combination license plate surround and trunk latch unit. The fuel filler sprouting from the driver’s side is incongruous with the rest of the design – this is likely one of those times where the design was completed first, and then the engineers determined the placement of the tank and filler. Look at the depth of the paint on the rear deck – is there any way this could be a ten-footer?

1949 DeSoto Custom left side

And here’s the driver’s side – note the hood is (hopefully) just cracked open, and the vent windows on each door mean you’ll probably get good ventilation without opening the up-and-down windows. Something funny is going on with the trim on this side, as the car is missing its “Custom” badging and a length of fender trim. It’s unfortunate the seller doesn’t offer much detail or any shots of the engine or interior, but he does say the car runs and drives well. So sure, coupes and convertibles will always be more desirable, and older American cars without a V8 will never have the appeal of those with one, but still, at this price you’ll get 95% of that experience. Would you try it out?

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One Response to “Shoebox Alternative – 1949 DeSoto Custom”

  1. Steve in Podunk Says:

    that’s a lot of car for 4 large

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