1956-1960 DeSoto Adventurer

1956 DeSoto Adventurer Styling

By early 1956 each division had its hot car: Dodge the 260-bhp 315-cid hemi V-8 D-500 package, Plymouth the 240-bhp 303-cid Fury hardtop, and Chrysler the 300-B with its 354-cid hemi capable of 355 bhp.

For its performance model, the 1956 DeSoto Adventurer reached back for the the most provocative name ever associated with the marque. Chrysler styling chief Virgil M. Exner had created a series of DeSoto-badged show cars in the early Fifties. His personal favorite was the first one, a graceful four-seater unveiled in 1953 as the Adventurer I. On February 18, 1956, the division unveiled its production Adventurer, a Fireflite-based two-door hardtop that shared many Pacesetter appearance features, though it offered six color combinations: Surf White lower body with an Adventurer Gold roof panel and color sweep; gold body with white or black roof and color sweep; black body with gold or white roof and sweep; and white body with black roof and sweep.

The 1956 DeSoto Adventurer's gilded appointments included its grille and wheel covers.
The 1956 DeSoto Adventurer's gilded appointments
included its grille and wheel covers.

As on the Pacesetters, the Adventurer's aluminum mesh grille was gold and its "V" insert was silver -- the reverse of other DeSotos. The hood medallion was in a checkered-flag setting, and there were checkered-flag "Forward Look" emblems on the front fenders. The rear fenders held chrome Adventurer script and dual antennae. Dual outside mirrors were standard.

Shared with the Pacesetter were new turbine-style wheel covers, gold-anodized aluminum discs that covered the full rim surface; to reach the tire valve, the disc had to be pried about three inches from the rim, where it was suspended by five retainer clips.

Interiors of the two specials also were similar: exclusive gold vinyl upholstery, brown tweed inserts, and black carpeting with gold "Lurex" flecks. The ivory-colored plastic steering wheel had gold grip sections at three and nine o'clock. DeSoto's standard dual-cove dashboard was retained, but Adventurers got black dashtop padding (a $19.40 option on other models), and gold-trimmed coves.

Instrumentation included oil pressure and generator gauges, but no tachometer. The round, chrome-bezel dials were sporty, but with black markings on white faces, they were hard to read in sunlight. Among standard items were a signal-seeking radio, a $118.80 option on lesser DeSotos, and power windows, which normally cost $102.30.

DeSoto billed the Adventurer as a limited-edition model and was apparently happy with a first-year production of 996, which Motor Trend said was sold out in just six weeks. By comparison, Chrysler built 1102 of the 300-Bs, Plymouth assembled 4485 Furys, and Dodge sold an uncounted number of D-500 packages.

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