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DeSoto

Brand

The DeSoto (sometimes De Soto) was an American automobile marque, manufactured and marketed by the now-defunct DeSoto Division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1928 to 1961. The DeSoto logo featured a stylized image of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. The De Soto marque was officially dropped November 30, 1960, with over two million vehicles built since 1928.

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The DeSoto (sometimes De Soto) was an American automobile marque, manufactured and marketed by the now-defunct DeSoto Division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1928 to 1961. The DeSoto logo featured a stylized image of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. The De Soto marque was officially dropped November 30, 1960, with over two million vehicles built since 1928.

The DeSoto make was founded by Walter Chrysler on August 4, 1928, and introduced for the 1929 model year. It was named after the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Chrysler wanted to enter the brand in competition with its arch-rivals Studebaker, and Willys-Knight, in the mid-price class. Chrysler had been battling unsuccessfully for ownership of Dodge, and created DeSoto out of spite as a direct competitor to that brand.

Shortly after DeSoto was introduced, however, Chrysler completed its purchase of the Dodge Brothers, giving the company two mid-priced makes. Initially, the two-make strategy was relatively successful, with DeSoto priced below Dodge models. Despite the economic times, DeSoto sales were relatively healthy, pacing Dodge at around 25,000 units in 1932. In fact, when DeSoto first came out in 1929, it broke the first-year sales record, with 81,065 cars sold, and was not beaten until 1960 by the Ford Falcon. 

When Chrysler launched the Airflow in 1934, DeSoto was then relocated above Dodge.  That car was a massive failure and DeSoto had no conventional models to support themselves through the crisis.  Sales fell to only 13,940 units in 1934 and for the rest of the brand’s history, sales lagged behind Plymouth and Dodge.

Chrysler used the Dodge marque on commercial vehicles produced by both Simca and Rootes (Commer and Karrier, but in addition using badge engineering to sell vehicles overseas under the Fargo and DeSoto brands). In addition, in some countries, such as Spain, the Dodge and Simca marques would be used for other vehicles, mostly Spanish-designed (ex-Barreiros) trucks and buses and locally-built versions of US-market vehicles or local versions of Simca cars.

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