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Jan Oldenhuis's picture
Jan Oldenhuis
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Joined: Thu, 07/30/2015 - 22:47
-545 De Soto Diplomat (1960-1963)

The DeSoto Diplomat is an automobile produced by Chrysler Corporation for sale in export markets outside of the United States. DeSoto Diplomats were “Plodges”: Dodges or Plymouths or a mix of Dodge and Plymouth components, rebadged as DeSotos. They were manufactured both in Detroit, Michigan, USA, and in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

1959 De Soto Diplomat Custom Coupe

Logo of De Soto Motor Company

1950 DeSoto deluxe hood ornament

1930's Shield De Soto Badge

De Soto:

DeSoto (sometimes De Soto) is an American automobile marque that was manufactured and marketed by the DeSoto Division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1928 to the 1961 model year.

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.

The DeSoto logo featured a stylized image of the explorer who led the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States (Florida, Georgia, and Alabama), and was the first documented European to have crossed the Mississippi River.

Chrysler wanted to enter the brand in competition with its competitors Oldsmobile, Buick, Studebaker, Hudson and Willys, in the mid-price class. DeSoto served as a lower priced version of Chrysler products, with Dodge and Plymouth added to the Chrysler family in 1928.

DeSoto Diplomat

The DeSoto Diplomat is an automobile produced by DeSoto from 1946 to 1962 for sale in export markets other than the United States and Canada.

1959 DeSoto Diplomat

The export DeSoto based on the Plymouth was first introduced in 1937 and was built in Detroit. Chrysler Corporation of Canada did not start building export DeSotos until late in the 1939 model year.

In 1946, the export DeSoto became the DeSoto Diplomat. They were exported to Europe, South Africa, South America, Hawaii, and Australia. In 1955, Chrysler of Canada did not export any cars and all 1955 Diplomats came from Detroit. In the late 1950s, some European taxicab drivers preferred to have a Perkins P4C diesel engine in the Diplomat; these diesel engines were installed on a Belgian assembly line.

From 1938 to 1956, the export DeSoto used Plymouth bodies with a grille that looked similar to the regular DeSoto but fit the Plymouth grille opening. From 1957 to 1959, the DeSoto Diplomat used the DeSoto Firesweep front clip with Plymouth body.

The 1960 and 1961 DeSoto Diplomats were based on the full-size Dodge Dart.

Although 1960 was the last year for DeSoto in Canada and 1961 for the United States and export markets, Chrysler South Africa built a number of 1962 DeSoto Diplomats based on the Dodge Dart 440 sedan.

16 years after DeSoto ended production, Chrysler would revive the Diplomat name for an M-body Dodge.

De Soto plant Detroit

DeSoto-Plymouth dealer in Pennsylvania, ca. 1930–1945

1959 De Soto Diplomat sales brochure

Enlarged portion of a Dutch 1959 DeSoto Diplomat brochure with coach styles

Meccano Bobigny

Introduction Dinky Toys 545 De Soto Diplomat in French MM December 1959

-545 De Soto Diplomat in catalogue France 1960-1. The 545 has never been issued in this brown color.

-545 De Soto Diplomat in catalogue France 1961-1

My 545 De Soto Diplomat 59. It is a custom 4-door Hardtop Sedan with V-8 or 6-cylinder engine as pictured below.

Enlarged portion of a Dutch 1959 DeSoto Diplomat sales brochure with the coach style of DT 545.

Note the absence of a central door / window post which has also accurately reproduced in the DT 545 model above.

Box -545 with model in green (without white roof) on both sides of the box. The only individually issued box for the 545.

My 545 De Soto Diplomat with type 1 rivets

-545 De Soto Diplomat with type 2 rivets (Ebay)

-545 salmon pink with black roof and silver moldings. No silver flash between the moldings. (Ebay)

-545 salmon pink with black roof and silver moldings with silver flash between it. (Ebay)

As addition I add 2 examples of De Soto cars that have made history and 1 of the DeSoto truck division.

1934 Like Chrysler, De Soto also had a De Soto Airflow Saloon, but did not get the expected economic success.

1934 Like Chrysler, De Soto also had a De Soto Airflow Saloon, but did not get the expected economic success.

Dinky Toys 30A Chrysler Airflow Saloon 1935-1948. (Photo autojauneblog)

De Soto taxicab:

DeSoto taxicab J.F. Waters New York

James F. Waters was a major distributor of Chrysler and De Soto in San Francisco, California, Detroit Michigan and Long Island City, New York and converted De Soto limousines into taxis for the Sunshine-Radio System, Inc., 1936-1939 and DeSoto Sky-View System, 1939-1954.

“RECORD ORDER OF 2,200 TAXIS AWARDED DE SOTO

“Company Goes To Work On Biggest Job In History

“DETROIT, July 11, 1936 (AP)—The DeSoto division of Chrysler Corp. is making delivery in New York city of the largest single order of automobiles in the company's history.

The order consists of 2,200 new-type taxicabs for the Sunshine Radio System, Inc. This represents the largest number of taxicabs ever to be placed in use in any city at one time.

The new taxicabs are designed to incorporate many of the comfort features of convertible model cars. Most of the new features is a sliding auxiliary roof which opens to permit the occupants of the cab to enjoy the open sunlight while riding.

“The cabs were placed in operation following a parade and ceremonies attended by local business men and city officials, with Samuel Levy, president of the Borough of Manhattan, officiating.”

The DeSoto Skyview was a special version of this car build by coachbuilder James F. Waters from 1939-1954. Most were used in New York and in San Francisco where the DeSoto dealer also ran a taxicab business.

The roof panel was glass, did not open, and had an inside cover which could be pulled across the glass by the passengers. The glass was always very dirty or cloudy so you could rarely see the skyscrapers.

A limousine type taxicab with jump seats was allowed to carry 5 passengers where a regular sedan was only allowed to carry 3. So this was an extra profit for the cab operator.

De Soto taxicab in films:

Louwman museum The Hague.

These are the 2 most well known taxicabs in the USA. Left the Checker, right the DeSoto.

1956 DeSoto Kew Fire engine with Dutch license plate from the region in the North of The Netherlands where I come from.

This DeSoto Fire engine has the same cabin as the Dodge Kew (Parrot Nose) to confirm the relationship with Dodge Kew trucks. The Dodge 100 "Kew" was a range of trucks made from 1949 until 1957 by the American Dodge company at their British factory in Kew, London.

The coach of this fire engine on this DeSoto Kew truck was made by coachbuilder Van Bergen in Heiligerlee (Province of Groningen in the North of The Netherlands).

In the 192 topic wrote Bruce Hoy an excellent article about the De Soto Fireflite and the Chrysler Company.

Jan Oldenhuis 20 May 2019

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janwerner
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Joined: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 06:56

Thanks once more, Jan, for a wonderful description and documentation, now about this fine model! Browsing in my own documentation I found a reference to a two-fold article by Jan van Bendegem about this French no. 545 and what the Desoto-Chrysler relation meant for this model. Unfortunately for the English readership it is in Dutch only. It was published in Auto in Miniatuur, the first part in 2000 issue no. 5, the second part in 2000 issue no. 6. I made some hard-to-read snap shots of both 3 page articles, included below. Jan, if you like I can send you scans - to be made.

This model also reminds me of the early 1960s period when - for me - French models became more fascinating than the British ones. Far below my 545, which I got in 1962, a now well-played-with, but still well-preserved childhood toy. No doubt I always put it back into its box after play. This Desoto Diplomat will have been the last French car model issued without plastic moulded interior, I presume. A problem for many Dinky Toys of these days is that its faithfulness had to suffer because of the new features. In order to allow for the suspension it stands too high on its wheels, unfortunately. The box illustration - although not perfect either - shows a better standing position. Kind regards, Jan    

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Jan Oldenhuis
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Joined: Thu, 07/30/2015 - 22:47

Jan. Thank you for your contribution and your very interesting information about the DeSoto Diplomat which I did not know. I am very interested in these articles and would like to receive a scan of them. You know my email address.

Kind regards, Jan O.

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janwerner
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Joined: Tue, 07/15/2014 - 06:56

Sent!

Jan Oldenhuis's picture
Jan Oldenhuis
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Joined: Thu, 07/30/2015 - 22:47

Jan. I have received and printed the scans, thank you very much for these articles.

There is so much interesting information to be read in these articles that I have made a literal summary of the main points out the articles and have translated it from Dutch into English with Google translate. It deserve translation to be able to read this excellent article in English. As mentioned above, Jan van Bendegem is the author of this excellent two-part article in the Dutch magazine Auto in Miniatuur of the Namac no. 5 and 6 of the year 2000. He has been collecting Dinky Toys since 1950.

Summary:

-545 was one of the first French Dinky Toys with a soft, smooth suspension. This by means of a blue-black spring steel plate, which was riveted to the center of the bottom and was rightly patented by Dinky Toys. The "own" suspension of other model brands was too stiff or too weak, or too fast or too slow in terms of spring characteristics.

Through the windows you can see the patented blue-black spring steel plate, which drove the Dinky's smoothly over unevenness.

Jean Massé drew the model on the box with convex wheels. Apparently it was intended to be released earlier and without suspension, such as the Lincoln Premiere. It is also lower (and better). Dinky Toys had to switch to a different wheel before the introduction of its suspension. The outside is hollow, the inside is flat, otherwise the track width would change too much during the spring action - with a convex wheel. The flat rear of the new wheel is used for vertical guidance during springing in and out. The car also had to be higher on its wheels, otherwise you have little to the spring action. Funny is that one of the Dinky Diplomats has a wheel mounted reversed on the axle. The flat back can now be seen very clearly. So a mistake!

DeSoto Diplomat with inverted right front wheel.

Second image in the Dinky Toys booklet: now the correct color as the model, only the printer has placed red rear lights in the wing, while that was just a chrome strip.

The entire body of the Diplomat is a Plymouth and includes the same color as the Plymouth Fury 4-door Hardtop as shown below. Only the grille - the "nose clip", which is only mounted on the conveyor when the body is already attached to the chassis - is De Soto

The Diplomat has the chrome strips of the Plymouth Fury

One of the few Dinky Toys where the model year is stated on the bottom.

Virgil Exner

Because it was apparently a profitable idea, after the war Chrysler was more and more taken into account from the design stage that different parts had to be able to connect to each other. That took off when Virgil Exner (designer of, among other things, the first post-war Studebaker) became head of the design department at Chrysler and his team (consisting of Cliff Voss, among others) surprised the world in the fall of 1956 with radically new models for 1957. They were so low and long, adorned with such graceful wings and had so much glass that they were far ahead of their time. That the new Chrysler models could be so low was partly due to the new torsion suspension "Torsion-aire Suspension", which consisted of a horizontal torsion bar in the longitudinal direction at each front wheel. This was primarily a benefit of the engineers; "Engineering" had always been a strong point at the Chrysler Corporation. On the underside of the promo scale models, that suspension was clearly and effectively stated as a sales argument. Because the torsion suspension took up much less space than the conventional suspension, the front screens and the bonnet could be lowered, which also applied to the entire "glass line". By also keeping the lower bulkhead (the “cowl”) the same for all four Chrysler brands - the shape of which ultimately determines the cross-section of the car - the bulging of all the doors remained the same and the front and rear screens of the various brands and models closed always flawlessly on the different doors.. The size and shape agreement was also included in the window styles and roof sections. In addition to a nice, low car, a "construction box system" was created with countless combination options. In the following years, that system was worked out further and further.

The official Chrysler image of the torsion bar suspension. You can clearly see that the suspension barely protrudes above the chassis.

Promo model Chrysler: The torsion bars - here made of plastic - and the mention on the bottom of the model: “EXCLUSIVE TORSION-AIRE RIDE” (top of the photo) and “USE OF TRADE-MARKS AND CAR DESIGNS AUTHORIZED BY CHRYSLER CORPORATION” (below).

Really working torsion bar suspension on the promo, for the sake of clarity here extra deep pressed.

Note: These plastic promotional models are made by Jo-Han and X-EL Detroit.

Kind regards, Jan Oldenhuis

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dinkycollect
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DTCA MemberFrance
Joined: Fri, 06/26/2015 - 22:49

What a lot of fine information about this model.

I think that this type of body without a center post is called a landaulet.

The Diplomat and the Froride both issued in February 1960 are the first two French Dinky Toys with suspension and concave hubs. This is the drawing attached to the British patent n° 920 534.

The drawing with ridged hubs on the box has been made by Jean Massé from the mock-up which had been made in 1959 before or while the concave hubs were designed.

All the best.

Jacques

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Jan Oldenhuis
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Joined: Thu, 07/30/2015 - 22:47

Jacques, thank you for your valuable contribution. This drawing clearly shows the suspension system.

Apparently, often after a drawing by Jean Massé, the factory opted for a different color or color combination or made changes to the model that did not match the drawing of Jean Massé on the box. Because the boxes are still printed that way you get still an idea about the original plans of the factory. Indeed, that was certainly not a mistake in the drawing by Jean Massé. A color error on the box also happened with the Chrysler Saratoga and in the French catalogue of 1961 for the never issued colour green. For the Saratoga JM also made a drawing of the mockup.

Kind regards, Jan Oldenhuis