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Home/Technical Info/DeSoto/11. Car Models Described/ 1956/
1956 DeSoto Models Described

New for DeSotos in 1956 was a 4-door hardtop to match the 2-door. It was also called the "Sportsman". This is the Fireflite model. 3,350 were sold.
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1956 DeSoto Production Figures 1956_DeSoto_Production_1.pdf
1956 DeSoto Foldout Brochure 1956_DeSoto_FO_Brochure_1-12.pdf
Print/Download: 1956 DeSoto Cars Described - 1956_DeSoto_Info_1B.pdf

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1956 DESOTO - GENERAL: The forward Look was now totally in place, with sweeping lines and fins in full evidence. At the front, a new perforated mesh grille with a large 'V' in the center dominated the front fascia - the "teeth" were gone. The new front bumper guards incorporated the parking lamps. At the rear, the taillight clusters were completely redone, with three tiers of turret-shaped lenses, and long, sweeping tail fin rear fenders replaced the older designs. A large, V-shaped emblem dominated the rear deck.

Color sweep two-toning remained a feature, although the shape of the contrast panels was revised.   Biggest news was that a four-door pillarless hardtop was introduced for both the Firedome and Fireflite. The DeSoto Hemi was enlarged yet again, this time to 330 CID, with the new Adventurer out further to 341 CID.

INNOVATIONS: A 12-volt electrical system was adopted for all DeSotos. Pushbuttons were now used for the Powerflite automatic transmission controls. 

1956 FIREDOME SERIES S23 (8-Cylinder Hemi): Cars in the Firedome series had "Firedome" in script on the front fenders, chrome plated headlamp hoods, and the top of the front fenders was unadorned. Standard side trim was a plain, full-length molding of consistent width, while "Color Sweep" two-tone paint was optional on hardtop models. This option was unique to the Firedome line. Station wagons could be ordered with a third type of color sweep pattern. Wagons also had chrome plated bolt-on type rear fins. 

Standard equipment included: full-time power steering, independent parking brake, safety rim wheels, "Oriflow" shock absorbers, constant speed electric windshield wipers, safety door latches, all-weather headlights, Super Highway tail lamp clusters, and center-plane brakes. The Firedome lower-priced hardtops were designated as a "Seville."

1956 FIREFLITE SERIES S24 (8-Cylinder Hemi): Fireflite models had "Fireflite" in script on the front fenders, and painted headlight hoods. Chrome strips were placed on top of the front fenders, extending back along the peak to the door. The upper arm of the Color Sweep panels on Fireflites extended in a solid line from in back of headlights to the extreme tip of the tailfin. A double molding was used on the top separator. On four-door sedans the side trim utilized the upper double molding only.

All Fireflite cars had Powerflite automatic transmission as standard equipment. This transmission now incorporated pushbutton gear selection controls. A limited-edition 'Pacesetter' convertible, commemorating the DeSoto's pacing the Indianapolis 500, would be available to the public. The cars delivered to dealers had the same special features as the pace car, and most all DeSoto's power accessories, but were not lettered like the authentic version.

1956 ADVENTURER SERIES S24A (8-Cylinder Hemi): A new performance car series called the "Adventurer" - now a two-door hardtop coupe was introduced as a limited-production specialty car on February 18, 1956. It was a Fireflite sub-series, and in some instances called the "Golden Adventurer." It had a special high-performance engine, dual exhausts and custom appointments and finish.

Standard equipment included: power brakes, whitewall tires, dual tailpipe extensions, dual outside rear view mirrors, rear mounted manual radio antennas, added instrument panel instruments, power front seat, electric windows, windshield washers, electric clock and heavy-duty suspension.


  • Firedome  serial numbers. Cars built in Detroit had serial numbers that ran from 50366001 to 50392114. Cars built in Los Angeles had serial numbers that ran from 62048001 to 62051424. Motor numbers ran from S23-1001 to S23-79267.
  • Fireflite serial numbers. Cars built in Detroit had serial numbers unknown at this time. Cars built in Los Angeles had serial numbers unknown at this time. Motor numbers started at S24-1001 to S24-29811.
  • Adventurer serial numbers. Adventurer Serial numbers were included in the Fireflite numbers.  Motor numbers were included in the Fireflite numbers however they had a S24A prefix and like the Fireflite, they ran from S24A-1001 to S24A-29811.

Serial number codes were on  the left front door hinge pillar post. V-8 the engine numbers were positioned at the top of the engine block under the water outlet elbow. No code numbers were provided for positive identification of body style type.


  •  *** Adventurer Gold (Two Tone Adventurer Only)
  • 301 Jet Black 
  • 305 Dutch Blue 
  • 306 Iridescent Blue 
  • 315 Light Aqua 
  • 16 Sage Green 
  • 317 Iridescent Green 
  • 330 Pearl Gray 
  • 331 Iridescent Gray 
  • 350 Shell Pink 
  • 351 Iridescent Lavender 
  • 352 Iridescent Plum 
  • 353 Crimson 
  • 355 Sunny Yellow 
  • 356 White


  • Firedome Series V-8: Overhead valves, hemispherical combustion chamber. Displacement: 330.4 cubic inches. Bore and stroke: 3.72" x 3.80". Compression ratio: 8.5:1. Horsepower: 230 @ 4400 RPM. Torque: 305 @ 2800 RPM. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Carburetors: Carter BBD two-barrel: with standard transmission  model 2308S, with overdrive transmission model 23095, with Powerflite transmission 2310S.
  • Fireflite Series and Firedome Power Pack V-8: Overhead valves, hemispherical combustion chamber. Displacement: 330.4 cubic inches. Bore and stroke: 3.72" x 3.80". Compression ratio: 8.5:1 Horsepower: 255 @ 4400 RPM. Torque: 350 @ 3200 RPM. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Carburetion: Carter WCFB four-barrel model 2311S.
  • Adventurer Series V8: Overhead valves, hemispherical combustion chambers with enlarged valve ports, high-lift camshaft, larger diameter valves and stiffer valve springs. Modified slipper pistons, heavy-duty connecting rods and shot peened crankshaft. Displacement: 341.4 cubic inches. Bore and stroke: 3.78" x 3.80". Compression ratio: 9.5:1. Horsepower: 320 at 5200 RPM. Torque: 356 @ 4000 RPM. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Carburetion: Carter dual four-barrel WCFB Carburetors, front model 2476S, rear model 2445S.


  • Wheelbase: 126.0".
  • Overall length: 4-door Sedans and 4-door Sportsman - 217.9", All 2-doors - 220.9",  Station Wagon - 218.6"
  • Front tread: 60.4".
  • Rear tread: 59.6".
  • Tires: 7.60 x 15 tubeless blackwalls.


  • Three-speed column mounted transmission was standard on Firedome and special option on Fireflite.
  • Four-barrel power package for Firedome series  was available as special order
  • Overdrive transmission $108 on Firedome and special option on Fireflite.
  • Powerflite automatic transmission was optional on Firedome for $189 extra and standard on Fireflite.


  • Air Temp air conditioning ($550).
  • Directional signals.
  • Electric window lifts.
  • Hot Water Heater.
  • Highway Hi-Fi record player.
  • Instant Heat Condition-air Heater (operates on gasoline burner).
  • Power brakes ($40).
  • Power front seat. ($70).
  • Power radio antenna.
  • Power steering ($97).
  • Radios ($110 and $128).
  • Power windows ($102).
  • Solex safety glass.
  • Steering wheel mounted clock.
  • White sidewall tires.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: An Adventurer hardtop paced the 1956 Pike's Peak Hill Climb, and another Adventurer competed in Daytona Speed Weeks. On January 11, 1956 DeSoto announced that a Fireflite convertible with heavy-duty underpinnings. but standard engine, would pace the Indianapolis 500, and that a limited-edition 'Pacesetter' convertible would be available to the public.

PRODUCTION: Model year production peaked at 111,422 units, running a close second to the 1955 production. See attached chart for production numbers.


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The Adventurer was a Fireflite Sportsman with special engine, special interior and gold trim. The gold was exclusive to the Adventurer & Pace Car. The 320 HP from a special 341 CID DeSoto Hemi let this bad boy run! A 345 HP "special" option.

The 1956 Fireflite Convertible was the most expensive DeSoto–except for the Adventurer. Its $3,454 base price limited production to 1,485 – including the Pace Car which were counted among the standard Convertibles.

The 1956 Fireflite Sportsman 2-door hardtop was the hottest DeSoto until the Adventurer came along. It was well received, with 7,479 produced.

The Fireflite Pace Car convertible was a good marketing tool for DeSoto and its visual clues became those of the Adventurer–though it lacked the 340 CID engine. 186 Pace Cars were produced.

The 1956 DeSoto Fireflite 4-door sedan was the best-selling Fireflite eclipsing the others by a wide margin. 18,207 buyers chose this model in 1956.

The Like the Fireflite, the 1956 Firedome 4-door Sportsman hardtop was a new addition to the Firedome line. The new model resulted in 1,645 delivered, though Seville Model should be considered (see below).

The 1956 DeSoto Firedome Seville 4-door hardtop was an attempt to drop the price of the hardtop down into competition with Pontiac by reducing some content. 4,030 were sold.

The 1956 Firedome was the second most expensive Firedome–only surpassed by the Station Wagon! Compared to the Fireflite, though it was much less expensive at $3,032. The net result was that 2,646 were delivered.

The 1956 Firedome 2-door Sportsman hardtop continued the less expensive 2-door tradiditon. As in 1955, it was the upscale Firedome version, with the Seville 2-door (below) trying to lure Pontiac customers. 4,589 were sold.

The 1956 DeSoto Firedome Seville 2-door hardtop was an attempt to drop the price of the hardtop down into competition with Pontiac and the Mercury. It apparently succeeded, with a surprising 19,136 delivered – the 2nd highest on all DeSoto models.

The 1956 DeSoto Firedome 4-door sedan was the best selling DeSoto, with almost 45,000 sold.

The DeSoto Firedome Station Wagon cost more than most of the Fireflite line. DeSoto seemed to have an ambivalent feeling about selling these cars. The result was only 2,950 were produced, though it was a big jump from the previous year.

The rear fenders swept up into fins. Tail lights were round tubular. At the front, the scoop remained, and the parking lights “floated” in the bumper guards that had unique cutouts in the grille fascia & the teeth were gone.

The 1956 Fireflite & Firedome had some unique trim. As in '55 on the Fireflite there were extensions on the top of the fender and body paint-matched headlight bezels, whereas the Firedome had chrome. The Firedome 4-door sedan had no 2-tone.

Both the Fireflite and Firedome had two tone color insets, but the Fireflite's top chrome strip split into two sections at the start of the front door and then merged back into the tail fin near the rear tip.

The pictures show the differences in the fin. All the models except the station wagon had the rising fin see on the left, but the wagon used the 1955 body dies aft of the the rear door. Since the fenders sloped downward, the huge chrome fin was added.


1956 DeSoto Production Figures




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