DECEMBER 8, 2012: ’57 DESOTO SPORTSMAN 4 DR HT—FINS ARE A PEOPLE MAGNET AT A CAR SHOW

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One of the biggest problems with fin cars is something that Virgil Exner (the legendary Chrysler fin car designer) never thought about back in the 1950s.

 

The 21st Century reaction to his cars…

 

Mopar fin cars are a people magnet so photographing these unique cars is an exercise in “shooting through a crowd” to get a clear picture.

 

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Don Muyres is heavily committed to ‘57 DeSotos because he also owns a 2-door hardtop version of this iconic name from Chrysler’s past. That 57 DeSoto was featured in an April 2012 MSCC article.

 

This 4-door hardtop is his “regular driver” because of the extra doors and massive trunk space. Regular driver is a relative term but Don piles up an average of 10,000 miles per year in his DeSoto and most car guys know that 10K is an admirable number of miles behind the wheel of an old ride…that’s a heroic number.

 

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Don bought this DeSoto twenty years ago from a guy who spotted it when he was delivering groceries to an elderly woman. Don recalled, ” She bought it new and drove it for years then her son owned it, he died and she put it under a tarp for years. That’s when the guy spotted it”.

 

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Don found the car via an ad and he cut deal with the less than enthusiastic owner because “he wasn’t doing much with it and he probably didn’t pay much for it”. One of the reasons was clearly the extent of the work that this old DeSoto need to get it up to Don’s specifications.

 

Some of the work was clearly unavoidable, “The motor went and then the transmission so both had to be rebuilt right off the bat”. This is a 341 Hemi car so it’s a costly process but Don believes in factory stock cars so he took the hit on the rebuild.

 

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The body was another factor because this car came from a northern Canadian climate plus the ’57 Chrysler Corp. lineup had significant rust issues. Don admitted, “I ended up paying 3000 for a front clip because this one was gone. The tarp wasn’t the best way to store this car”.

 

There were other factors in the restoration including a rerouted exhaust and significant work on the quarter panels but Don’s finished project is a work of art. Many hobbyists tend to focus on the two door hardtops or convertibles so Don’s 4-door hardtop was a very unique ride to see at a small show.

 

He has no fear behind the wheel of this classic Mopar and his only concern is the reaction from fellow drivers on the road, “Everybody passes me because they have to see what it is but if I want to I can get by them because this car can go to beat hell”.

 

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Don tries “to hit every show I can” because he likes to show people what 1950s styling was all about and a 1957 DeSoto is one of the best examples of a ‘young Elvis era’ car.

 

The only concern Don has is the succession strategy for the DeSoto because, he admitted, ” my son doesn’t want to drive them but he’ll never sell them and I hope my Grandkids take an interest in them”.

 

Decades down the road that might not be a problem because a fin car like this ’57 DeSoto will be even more unique.

 

Jerry Sutherland

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