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Old 07-25-2020, 11:12 AM
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54 Desoto Restomod

A friends family owns a completely original 1954 Desoto with a Firedome Hemi that was purchased new by their grandfather. The body is in great shape, but the suspension is not. I have suggested that they go the restomod route using modern suspension and transmission so that they can drive and enjoy the car safely and reliably.

I'm looking for advice from the collective wisdom of the member as to what might be done and what profesional shop might be a good choice. They are not looking for a show car. They live in the western part of NC near the VA border, so perhaps a shop around Charlotte?
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hduff View Post
A friends family owns a completely original 1954 Desoto with a Firedome Hemi that was purchased new by their grandfather. The body is in great shape, but the suspension is not. I have suggested that they go the restomod route using modern suspension and transmission so that they can drive and enjoy the car safely and reliably.

I'm looking for advice from the collective wisdom of the member as to what might be done and what profesional shop might be a good choice. They are not looking for a show car. They live in the western part of NC near the VA border, so perhaps a shop around Charlotte?
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Does this have the two speed automatic that saves you from having to endure all the shifting of a Hydramatic? As Chrysler used to advertise... LOL!

Upgrade of brakes prolly also desirable... if they seem weak at stopping...
.
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:47 PM
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Stock parts are still available from multiple sources. Here is one of my favorites......

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/...cid+v8,1440342

Shop around at small garages for the labor or talk to mechanics who work at Mopar dealerships and find one who works out of his home at night and on weekends.
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Old 07-25-2020, 03:18 PM
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Does this have the two speed automatic that saves you from having to endure all the shifting of a Hydramatic? As Chrysler used to advertise... LOL!

Upgrade of brakes prolly also desirable... if they seem weak at stopping...
.
They would like an AOD transmission.

The brakes are horrible and the power brake system is about to rust away.
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Old 07-25-2020, 08:45 PM
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If you are looking to drive it, I would adapt a modern rear axle from a 1/2 ton pickup, which will get reliability and some good rear brakes. I think ford and dodge use similar flange patterns.
Front suspension is a lot tougher to change, at a minimum you need to get disc brakes on the front. The problem there is finding a rotor or flange and rotor with bearing combinations that fit the spindles, and then making brackets to fit the spindles and carry the calipers that match the rotors. Ideally using the rotors and calipers from the same donor pickup that gave you the rear axle. That way brake balance should be good. Maybe even use the matching master cylinder would be great.
I mention Pickup, because that is a heavy car. One cylinder head weighs like 2 sbc heads.


I wouldn't do anything to the engine if it runs well. I had a 52 Imperial 331 hemi. It wasn't a power house but got 17-19 MPG, only a 2 barrel. The brakes were horrible 4 wheel drum.
The 2 Speed transmission was a manual/ with fluid coupler. It had two ranges hi/lo with an automated shift in either range. It operated like an overdrive, accelerate,then back off throttle would trigger the upshift, mash is to the floor,and it would force downshift. Most normal driving you would start in Hi range, accelerate, let off throttle to upshift. That was all 2 gears. Lo range was for pulling stumps or something. Once you selected a gear and let out the clutch, you didn't have to push it in to stop, just step on the gas to go. Just like an automatic but all done with manual transmission parts.
Needless to say you won't find many parts for that transmission. It won't like anything but driving miss daisy type driving.
A 5.7l dodge hemi and transmission would be a sweet transplant, that way it wouldn't go through rejection.
Lots of ideas, but each new one will come with price.


Post some more pics of inside I would like a blast from the past.
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:49 AM
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mopar forum

a forum of 50's mopars should have more info.
a buddy had a a chrysler with that trans and I was working at a Chrysler dealership when I was in college. I had just finished a transmission class and my buddy and I diagnosed it as the over running clutch in the bottom of the trans. there were rollers like in my Ford T 85 Od trans. The dealer mechanaic didn't want to listen to the kid and had the trans in and out 3 times before he fixed it. I remember my buddy looking for a later 50's Torqueflight trans to swap into it but traded off his hemi cruiser.
I remember guys swapping out the rear tapered axle shafts for more modern style flange type. I think those front suspensions have ball joints and just upgrading to power front discs.
those old hemi's were popular in dragsters baack in the day. not everyone had a 392. My older brother had a 331 with 4 carbs in his 36 ford coupe he ran at the dry lakes.,
I would keep the stock hemi and upgrade the brakes, look for a TQF trans to have on a shelf if the stock one goes bad.

Last edited by timothale; 07-26-2020 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 07-26-2020, 08:30 AM
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The auto manufacturers were switching from king pins to ball joints in the early 50's. Dodge, Desoto , Chrysler and Plymouth were probably a bit later than Gm and ford.
There where several different versions of the fluid coupled clutch transmission. Plymouth and Dodge used a standard 3 speed tranny. Chrysler and Desoto used the 2 range setup which operated like an overdrive and had the roller clutch to allow the freewheeling shift.
Some early models had the fluid coupling filled from the crackcase, this was changed to a self contained coupling that was filled through a hole in the RH side of the floor hump.
I bought a 48 Desoto that quit driving and was towed to a local yard. It would start and run, but wouldn't move. Paid $20 to owner who was being threatened with storage bill. A couple hours later I was driving it away. It only need about a gallon of 30w in the coupling, that no one knew how to fill.
I keep saying fluid coupling, that is because they had only the drive and driven members. A torque converter has a 3rd element, called the stator, which redirects oil inside to better capture it's flow and provide for torque multiplication.
In the Chrysler world, the torqueflite was the first to use a converter. It's design carried into modern time with most rear drive cars and trucks.
There are specialty companies that might make an adaptor plate to get you to a more modern transmission. OD might not be needed depending on axle ratio. Original ratio was probably on the highway side of 3:1.
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Old 07-26-2020, 12:23 PM
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X3... I'd definitely keep the Hemi... it's most of the charm of the car...

People drove these cars every day with the stock brakes, so they are prolly adequate if not into hard driving... but the design of the power brake/master cylinder setups can be challenging...
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Old 07-26-2020, 12:43 PM
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They were ok then, but are old tech like two wheel cylinders per wheel in front, non self adjusting, eccentric adjusted, parts are hard to find. Depends where you put the accent in Resto mod. Were do you start and stop.
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:00 PM
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2012, 2013 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck would be the correct track width for the DeSoto.
I would find a running truck and swap the entire chassis and running gear. Shorten/lengthen the chassis where necessary. Use everything from the truck, including engine, transmission, differential and wiring.
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