Tale of Two DeSotos

    It was a Firedome 4 door sedan, maroon and white with a beige interior and the îForward Look.î  After I was paralyzed, I couldn't drive my '57 Ford Fairlane 500 because it didnít have power steering.  On Easter break, '65, I bought the DeSoto from a local barber with $100 I'd saved from my rehab money.  Its paint was faded and it was rusted out, but otherwise in good shape at 60,000 miles.  It had pnuematic push button shifting from the left dash.   

     In Sept '66 I drove out to Stanford via Oregon with my grandmother in it.  We ran out of gas in North Dakota, but visited many sights along the way.  We hob nobbed with wild burros, parked up to a black bear at Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone, and got surrounded by a herd of sheep on the road.  The hemi conquered every mountain with ease. The power brakes held up well too. 

     The transmission started slipping, and the cheap fix I tried didn't work, so I looked for another car.  I was amazed to find one just like it for $250 at a local dealership.  It was like new, with no rust, new paint, and a rebuilt engine.  After trading, I was out only another $100. 

57 DeSoto at Yellowstone 
     September, 1966.  When my grandmother and I pulled up to the earthquake damaged view area for Yellowstone Falls, a bear had created a disabled parking space for me.  He was busy shelling peanuts from a bag he had corned and paid no attention to us.  A woman offered him a potato chip.  He rolled back on his haunches and flicked it from her fingers with his tongue.

     Note the rust on my first DeSoto.  I could see through the floor boards.


DeSoto at Stanford

      December, 1966.  I wanted a picture of my like new DeSoto and me.  I drove my roomate to University Drive on the Stanford Campus.  I pulled off into the eucylptus trees for the picture in the waning light.

     I planned a trip to Yosemite and Southern California as a break from my rigorous Stanford studies over the Christmas break in ë66.  I made the mistake of using regular gas and blew a piston on my new car racing up a canyon on my first leg to visit relatives in Livermore.  After outstaying my welcome over Christmas, I was depressed, but contemplated my options. I had the car towed to Pleasanton, and hitch hiked back to the Bay, bought my old car back for $75 and drove it to a Plymouth dealer in Pleasanton. I then had the engines switched for another $170. I sold the power steering and junked the car to help pay for the switch. 

     I didnít get to finish my trip, and had to borrow to finish my Masterís, but I got another 100,000 or so out of that engine before trading it in on a ë66 Toronado in the Spring of ë68. While I was looking, I drove a ë57 Chrysler 300C, white, with biege leather interior, to 80 mph on 101.  It was steal at $1250, I passed up the classic because the glass packs were too loud.

     If only Iíd kept those hemis, but I didnít know their value.  But then, I could have picked up a 300SL Gullwing Mercedes for 3 Grand in those days.  Janis Joplin bought a roadster.  Saw it hanging over the bar at Studebaker in Houston in the early 80s.  Where have all the DeSotos gone? 

Back to Main Page