Desoto is one of the iconic American automobiles manufactured and distributed by DeSoto, a division of the Chrysler Corporation between 1928 and 1961. After more than two million cars on the street, the DeSoto brand was officially discontinued on November 30, 1960, after announcing the 1961 model. At the time, the Chrysler warehouses had 1961 DeSoto parts worth millions and they ramped up production to use up the stock. The fall of the DeSoto from glory was due to intra-division office wrangles, brand confusion between Desoto and Dodge, and the recession that hit the US in the late 1950s.
The 1961 Desoto Model
After the announcement, many DeSoto customers gave the 1961 model a wide berth, despite having one of the most iconic shapes of the era. The first 1961 model rolled off the factory floor just twelve days after the announcement by the Chrysler Corporation. Despite the decision to discontinue, the DeSoto was a good car, no less than the larger Dodge, and the smaller Chrysler.
The last Desoto had a 361-CID V8, and a Chrysler-Dodge-DeSoto 122-inch chassis. It also had the push-button TorqueFlite transmission, total-contact power brakes, and Torsion-Aire front suspension. At the time, you could choose to have the top RCA 45-rpm record player included in your 1961 DeSoto.
The discontinuation of DeSoto did not go down well with all the parties involved. Nine DeSoto dealers in New Jersey sued Chrysler for a breach of the dealer agreements, and they won the suit. However, many dealerships accepted the franchises offered by Chrysler especially when the agreement stated that they would get increased product offerings.
After the announcement on November 30, 1960, die-hard DeSoto fans bought 57,102 1961 models, which was the highest number of DeSoto cars purchased since 1957. The 1961 model had six different body styles, with the option of a hardtop sedan or a hardtop coupe.