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The DeSoto Adventurer was one of the premier performance cars of the 50s. The Adventurer was a Fireflite Sportsman with special engine, interior & trim. The 320 HP from a special 341 CID DeSoto Hemi let this bad boy run! A 345 HP "special" was an option.

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Checking Out Our "Car Models Described" - The 1956 DeSoto
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by Society Staff - reprint with permission only

For those who may not know, we have been working steadily to create individual pages for our "orphaned brands" - that is, brands that are no longer with us.  We've been focused on the brands that disappeared in the 50's and 60s, primarily because information on these cars is rapidly receding.  (Never mind that unless a brand was/is highly thought of, cars that have gone away from the 20s-30s are almost as lost as the history of the Mayas).

Surely car clubs dedicated to these brands are working tirelessly to preserve the information and history of these cars, but as the years go by, fewer and fewer people are available with the knowledge to preserve them.

Thus the following is an extract of the 1956 DeSoto Car Models Described.  Follow along, and if you want to dive deeper, you can see the entire section dedicated to the 1956 DeSoto HERE, and the entry page for ALL the post-war DeSoto Car Models Described HERE.

1956 DeSoto Models Described

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.

MODEL/ENGINE I.D. DATA:

  • 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.

The following Categories are also contained - click this link to see them all

  • Body/Paint Code Colors
  • DeSoto Engines
  • Chassis Specifications
  • Powertrain Options
  • Significant Options
  • Historical Background
  • Production Figures - by Model

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.

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

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.

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 Firedome convertible 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 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.