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Projects 1953 DeSoto Kustom Build

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Lancer, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    I've owned this car for 13 years, and have worked on it on and off. I'll be posting pics of the car with descriptions from the day I picked it up up through where I am today.

    These pics are from the day I picked up the car. I was told about the car from a friend who initially was interested in it for the engine only. He was building a '32 Ford Roadster at the time. He had thought that the DeSoto blocks has the extended bell housing and had decided not to buy it because of that. He was wrong about the block and I was the winner of the car. While I had heard of a DeSoto, I knew nothing of them and needed to do my homework. All I knew was the car had a Hemi and was a two door hardtop and the price was right, so I drug it home. No papers on the car and it had been sitting since 1969. I have the plate with the sticker on it. DMV would not let me keep the plates as I could not prove they were original to the car since there were no papers. I still have the plates though. The car was 98% complete. The guy who had it pulled the grill out and stuck it in his basement as everyone that came by wanted to buy the grill and not the car. He was afraid someone would steal it. The profile of the car really appealed to me and of course the grill, one of a kind. The back glass is actually three pieces. I learned the hard tops and the convertibles were based on the same body design and the production numbers were pretty low. While you see the sedans around the hard tops are a rare bird. The model is a Firedome Sportsman to be specific. IMG_3282.jpg IMG_3283.jpg IMG_3284.jpg IMG_3285.jpg IMG_3289.jpg IMG_3294.jpg
     
  2. Bugger everyone up and put a 51 Merc grille in it!! :rolleyes:
     
  3. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    @mr57 that thought did cross my mind for a while, but the DeSoto grill will stay. Which when its done will confuse people even more.
     
    rodl likes this.
  4. Blase
    Joined: Aug 31, 2009
    Posts: 80

    Blase
    Member

    can't wait to see this one. Cool car!!
     

  5. O.Hove
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 771

    O.Hove
    Member Emeritus
    from S.D.

    Love them DeSoto's
     
  6. This is the first time I realized that the roof line on the Desoto looks the same as a GM model in that era.
    God help you if you are going to rebuild the engine. The parts for a Desoto are astronomical in price.
     
  7. atomickustom
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 3,337

    atomickustom
    Member

    I will be anxious to see your progress. I've always like those cars and they just beg for the right mods to bring out the good and eliminate the ugly.


    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
     
  8. AlkyWagon
    Joined: Aug 13, 2014
    Posts: 99

    AlkyWagon

    I've never seen that body style. Looks good!!!. Looking forward to seeing the build.
     
  9. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    Getting ready to pull the engine and trans. This was about 5-6 years ago. Fluid Torque Drive transmission. An interesting piece of engineering. Both standard gear box matted to an auto style torque converter that ran off of the engine oil. 13 quarts of oil to run both the engine and transmission. IMG_3095.jpg IMG_3113.jpg IMG_3116.jpg
     
    OahuEli, jakespeed63 and kiwijeff like this.
  10. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    276 Cubic inch baby Hemi. Factory dual point distributor. Before pulling the motor I had ran it for a few minutes and it seemed pretty decent. The wire covers were missing, one of the few things on the car that I didn't have. If you look close on the bottom photo of the engine you can see a wiring harness running from up near the carb to the side of the transmission. It connects to solenoids. Those work off of two switches on the carb that control the shifting of the trans from first to second gear or low/hi depending on how you look at it. Only two speeds.
     
  11. Roger O'Dell
    Joined: Jan 21, 2008
    Posts: 1,145

    Roger O'Dell
    Member

    You can keep the lic plates, but it takes it's a bit of a pain. First it's NOT YOM (year of mfg) program. But there is an antique program (don't remember the form #), and the plate number can't be in use aka cycle. AND you'll have to fix the front plate to pass their inspection
     
  12. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    This was quite a few years back @Roger O'Dell Since its near impossible to get original '53 plates here in Ca for a YOM I'll probably end up going with some kind of vanity plate and having it repainted. Unless I happen to run onto a set of originals. Between the state reissuing the plate numbers for those years and the low rider guys snatching them up they are rarer than hens teeth.
     
  13. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    Nasty. Whatever this stuff is, its hard as a rock and in many layers. Whoever owned this car originally must have lived at the end of a dirt road. Amazingly crusty.
    1618678_864103216974063_5114734037607420820_n.jpg
    Original rear with press on hubs will be going away. A mid 60's 8.75 will be replacing it.
    10923574_864104596973925_5810233145260438661_n.jpg
    Original fuel pump before reconditioning.
    10915347_864104336973951_7664041328429815391_n.jpg
     
  14. desotot
    Joined: Jan 29, 2008
    Posts: 1,828

    desotot
    Member

    Definatly an interesting car with a ton of potential, so what are your present and ambitions for this car? I realize projects like this can change direction several times in the course of a build but you probably have some thoughts smoldering in the cranium.
     
  15. 1959Nomad
    Joined: Jun 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,123

    1959Nomad
    Member

    Subscribed, looks like a lot of potential.
     
  16. Looks like a great project Lancer! Can't wait to follow along on the progress.
     
  17. Sweet project, nice to see another Desoto being built up.

    Man, the owner of my '39 Plymouth coupe and the owner of your Desoto must of lived on the same dirt road. My car has that same built up crud all over the frame. I hear ya on it being a real pain in the ass to remove. I found that heating it up a little bit with a plumbers torch makes it much easier to remove. Good luck with the project.
     
  18. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    @desoto Oh yes, these photos are quite a few years old now. Just posting them in order until I can get up to its current status. Paint colors went back and forth for years and I figured I would never make up my mind until I bought the paint, I did so I didn't have to think about it anymore. I like the original two tone scheme and for a while considered doing it the same colors as original, but that faded away. Just not a fan of green. My color choice landed with a House of Kolors, Kandy Tangerine for the main body and a HOK Silver Pearl White for the roof.
    To chop or not to chop was another issue I've been trying to figure out over and over. A year ago I did a video shoot on the Royal Victoria and really fell for the lines/chop of the car. My roofline is very similar so I decided to start working on going that direction. Tomorrow I am heading over to a shop to pick up the rear section of a roof that will work its way onto the DeSoto. I'll post pics of that when the time comes.
    Frenching the headlights and tail lights has been another issue. I think I've made a decision on the tail lights but we'll see how that goes.
    With that body color I'm still working on the interior colors. I think I've got a plan though but I'm a long way from doing that. More metal work and body work before I can spray the paint on it.
    12volt vs 6volt The car is 6volt positive ground. Thats something I'm still working on. The new harness I have is for 6volt so I can go either way since the 6v is so much heavier gauge. Right now it will go 12v unless. I'll have to put in some voltage drops and I hope those work okay. Two for the solenoids on the trans and a couple for gauges, plus the heater. I think thats it.
    @1952B3b23 Yes, thats some crazy stuff. I've worked on dozens of cars over the years and have never seen anything quite like that. The stuff felt like powder coat or something that was hardened onto the car. Hours and hours of wire wheel cleaned it up but I wish I could have pulled the body off the frame and just sand blasted it. Would have saved me a lot of time and effort. Whatever that stuff was though it really protected the frame. Once removed the thing looked like new.
     
  19. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    I pulled the covers to see what was going on. Was much cleaner than I was expecting.

    IMG_3251.jpg
    Covers went back on as I began the cleaning process to get it ready to repaint and reseal with new soft gaskets. Other than the rear main seal and the head gaskets everything was replaced. Don't want this thing leaking. The bottom of the engine had the same nasty hard crusty coating that was on the whole frame and under carriage. Lots of scraping and wire wheeling and for the smaller parts I could take off, glass beading. The vent tube is coming off and the oil filter is getting updated to a spin on style from Hot Hemi Heads. They were a huge help and explained how to convert to a free flow oil system. This required pulling the rear main seal and oil pump and then removing the cage and ball that are up inside. The ball came out easy, the cage not so much. But with some tools to help it along it all came out and went back together with a new pan gasket.
    You can see the wiring harness thats near the distributor. It connects to two switches on the carb that run down to the side of the transmission. This is what tells it to shift. Pretty interesting design.
    IMG_3264.jpg
     
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  20. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,359

    George
    Member

    Looks surprisingly clean! Assume you put the block off in where the anti-drain back check ball was... Installing a PCV valve in place of the puke tube is a good upgrade. Also the company's name is Hot Heads by the way.
     
  21. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    Okay, well its HotHemiHeads.com forgive me @George Honestly its been a few years since I did this and am going from memory, which is kind of scary. Hot Heads walked me through each step, I purchased the external screw on unit from them. They were really great to deal with and I would recommend them to anyone. I don't recall putting in any block off plate, if I recall their directions were to just remove the check ball and cage and then install their unit and it would would properly. But its been a few years like I said. Oil pressure is good and all seems to work fine. I've ran it quite a lot. Someday I'll get to drive it.
     
  22. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,359

    George
    Member

    So it's back together! Did you go with modern compression pistons?
     
  23. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    @George Yes, motor is together and running. The engine did not get rebuild. It ran well enough so I just cleaned it up and replaced all the soft gaskets then repainted it. All the external bolt ons received a rebuild.
     
  24. George
    Joined: Jan 1, 2005
    Posts: 7,359

    George
    Member

    Well, that's one way of keeping costs down! When/if you need to rebuild look @ custom pistons in the 9-10:1 range. Your engine is advertised @ 7:1, a similar vintage 241 Dodge Hemi with the same adv C/R measured out @ 6.19:1! Looking forward to seeing final results! :)
     
  25. woodbutcher
    Joined: Apr 25, 2012
    Posts: 3,216

    woodbutcher
    Member

    :D Hi Lancer.Remember this?It`s delightful,It`a delovely,it`s DeSoto.Nice project.Keep the updates coming.
    Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
    Leo
     
  26. choptop40
    Joined: Dec 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,728

    choptop40
    Member

    looks good....
     
  27. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

  28. That is really going to be a good looking car. I bought a pretty solid '54 years ago. Kept the hemi and the grille and let the rest go down the road. I hated to, thinking it was nice looking, but I didn't need another project. I'll just live vicariously through you. :)

    I might have missed it, but what are your induction plans? I haven't decided on mine yet. It will be going in my '49 Fleetline and I waffle between a just a single 4bbl or some sort of multicarb set up. I hate tuning carbs, so it will probably be just the 4 barrel….but 3-6 carbs look soooooo good! ;)
     
  29. 1953naegle
    Joined: Nov 18, 2013
    Posts: 247

    1953naegle
    Member

    Slick looking car! I'm a sucker for old school factory "gadgets" and the like. It's interesting seeing how different manufactures went about accomplishing the same things (automatic transmissions, ect.) and all they ways that never panned out.
     
  30. Lancer
    Joined: Jan 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,267

    Lancer
    Member

    @drdave Induction is all bone stock. Factory two barrel carb/intake etc. They are making four barrel intakes now that would work fine but there were so many original things I would have had to change to make it all work. It will be fine for what it is. If I were to put this motor in a roadster or something I'd look at the inline four setup. They are pretty trick. Four two's in a row. Not sure how hard those are to find now, a few years ago they could be had. There aren't many options for the DeSoto's.
     

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