It was named after the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto
The DeSoto make was founded by Walter Chrysler in August 1928 and introduced for the first time in 1929. It was named after the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Chrysler wanted his Desoto product to compete with arch-rivals General Motors, Studebaker and Willys-Knight in the mid-price class. However, Chrysler went on to acquire Dodge Brothers soon after giving him two competing marques. Despite this, initial sales figures for the DeSoto were quiet good with that range selling slightly below the Dodge range which was selling around 25,000 units per annum. In an attempt to boost Dodge sales, Chrysler elevated the price of DeSoto in 1933 but it wasnt a successful move.
After wartime restrictions on automotive production during WWII ended DeSoto returned to civilian car production and re-issued its 1942 models as 1946. At the peak of its operation DeSoto’s most popular models included the Firesweep, Firedome, and Fireflite. The 1958 economic downturn hurt sales of mid-priced makes across the country and DeSoto was no exception with sales down 60 percent from the previous year. Sales continued on a downward trend for 1959 and rumors that DeSoto was going close down were rife in the automotive industry.
By the time the 1961 DeSoto was introduced in the fall of 1960, rumors were widespread that Chrysler was moving towards terminating the brand, fueled by a reduction in model offerings for the 1960 model year. The introduction of the value priced Chrysler Newport, a brand with more upscale market appeal, no doubt hastened the decision to end production of DeSoto, which was very similar in size, styling, price, and standard features. Barely six weeks after the 1961 DeSoto range was launched, Chrysler announced he had made the decision to discontinue DeSoto.
The Chrysler Corporation introduced the DeSoto brand of trucks in 1937. The idea was to provide a greater number of sales outlets in overseas countrys for the American-built Dodge and Fargo commercial vehicles. The DeSoto brand was badge engineered spasmodically on Dodge trucks made in Australia, Argentina, Spain, Turkey, and in the United Kingdom. When Chrysler ended its truck operations in international market both the DeSoto and Fargo brands continued to be used on trucks made by Askam in Turkey in which Chrysler was a shareholder. Chrysler sold its share in Askam its Turkish partners in 1978.