Links to Club Information

PWCC Home Page

Meeting & Event Schedule

Club Officers and Contacts

Club Affiliations and Links

Member's Cars

Dick Romm's 1948 DeSoto Suburban

I bought this car from a collection in Scottsdale, Arizona from the collector's widow in October, 2008. The car was originally delivered in Quincy, Massachusetts but seems to have spent much of its time in North Carolina before coming to Arizona. It was apparently restored to 'good driver' status by the Arizona collector. Other than blowing out the fuel system, which was clogged from disuse (it had traveled only about 5 miles since 2004!), I have done only regular maintenance on the car. We have put approximately 5,000 miles on the car, which included a round trip to Sacramento in 2009 to the National WPC Meet. The DeSoto also led the tour to Silver Falls in last year's Regional Meet hosted by our club.

My reason for buying the car was a nostalgic one. In Los Angeles, when I was 9 yrs old, my folks bought a new 1947 DeSoto Suburban and kept it until 1953. It hauled our scout troop to many camping trips, pulled a 21' trailer on vacations, and was the car in which I took my driver's test for my license. It took us to my first visit to Oregon—Crater Lake when I was 11. Therefore, when I saw this car for sale, despite its huge size, I wanted it badly! We have named it Sherman, since when we had our family Suburban we lived in Sherman Oaks, CA, and also it certainly could be compared to a Sherman tank!

Unlike the blue of my family's Suburban, this one has the colors that were most popular for this body: Rhythm Brown on the top and Trumpet Gold on the bottom. Both these colors were unique to the Suburban model. DeSoto produced 7,500 of this particular body in 1946-48, with virtually no obvious changes during the three years. This is the same body that was used for taxicab companies, a major source of purchase for this body, although not trimmed nearly as luxuriously as the Suburban. So, producing this upscale car in limited quantities let the company use an existing body trimmed up for the 'carriage trade.' Many of these cars were purchased by hotels to use as luxurious shuttles to airports, etc., since they hold up to 9 passengers. They were also probably bought by families who needed the capacity of a station wagon but didn't want the upkeep of wood, or the inconvenience of removing seats when hauling cargo, etc.

The car has 3 seats, two of them standard size, and a smaller jump-seat which folds behind the 2nd seat. The 2nd seat is on tracks and can be moved back and forth. The car is open all the way to the trunk as in a station wagon. The 'cargo' floor is wood with stainless steel strips, and the interior is outfitted with what was the forerunner of Formica, grained to look like wood. To accommodate all this interior area, the wheelbase is 139.5 inches, compared with 121.5 inches for the regular 6-passenger sedan. The extra wheelbase can be seen in both front and back doors, which are considerably longer than the regular sedan. This over 18-foot long car weighs only a little over 4,000 pounds, actually considerably lighter than many modern SUVs. It is powered by a flathead 6 of (only!) 236 c.i., developing all of 109 horsepower! This is connected to the driveline by a semi-automatic "tip-toe shift" 4-speed transmission hooked to a fluid coupling between it and the engine. There is a clutch pedal, but once into 'high' range, it is not used. This combination makes for somewhat leisurely acceleration, but once up to speed, it is certainly adequate. Our '47 was able to pull our 3,000 lb trailer over some pretty steep passes, albeit slowly!

Norm and I have enjoyed driving this DeSoto, especially on the 2 lane roads just out of town in the Eugene area. Of course our highlight was driving it to Sacramento during the hottest summer here in years (104º in Ashland!) with the heater blasting away to keep the engine from overheating over the Siskiyous, and all the windows open..but we made there and back without any problems and averaging just over 17 miles per gallon for the 1100 mile trip.

BACK to Home Page