One of the first battles for many car guys is fought right on the home front.
He finds his ideal car and decides that he desperately needs that old car as his second life partner, so he consults with his first life partner about the idea.
The first life partner is usually a skeptical bride who knows that her husband has a weakness for old cars and will fall in love at first sight when he sees the car of his dreams. Mike Neilson’s wife was well aware of Mike’s fondness for a pretty face with four wheels and tried to curb his appetite for old cars.
Mike discovered a 1954 De Soto and it was another clear case of love at first sight. He knew that he needed to own the car and phoned his wife to tell her the good news. She told him in no uncertain terms that he was “not buying another car“. He bought the De Soto approximately five minutes after he got off the phone with her.
These are moments that severely test marital bonds; however Mike’s wife was ultimately happy with his decision because she was with him when we encountered the three of them last summer at a car show. She seemed very content with the new addition to her family and enjoyed the road trips in the DeSoto.
The car was an estate sale vehicle and it clearly ended up with the right people because the Neilsons like to drive their cars to shows. This De Soto will enjoy a great combination of fresh air and open roads with its new owners and that beats a dusty jail sentence parked in a garage.
Mike told us that only 1900 De Sotos were built for the Canadian market in 1954 and one can assume that many of them were crushed long before the dawn of the 21st Century. His De Soto beat the survival odds because it was pampered and never driven in a rough Western Canadian winter. That will add a lot of years to any car lucky enough to be able to avoid that horrific experience.
Mike’s DeSoto has a 265 cubic inch flathead engine coupled with an automatic transmission. The car will not exactly snap your neck with its brute force power and acceleration, so Mike gave it a fighting chance with a set of Mike-designed headers,trick carbs and a Challenger rear end.
Mike is able to pull off a steady 65 mph (100 km/h) with his DeSoto on the highway and he has no fears that his flattie is over-worked along the way. It also pulls down a respectable 21-plus MPG at highway speeds.
The car sits slightly lower than factory and it can stop a lot faster than factory because it has front discs and 11-inch drums to get the De Soto halted in a hurry when necessary.
The interior is essentially stock and Mike was quick to point out that its air-conditioning was provided by its factory front air vent.
We liked this De Soto because it was lucky enough to find its way to the right owners because, even if the process started with “You’re not buying another car”, it was a happy ending for all three of them.