Suburban Substitute: 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie Wagon – Sold?

by | Feb 2024 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Wagon Wednesday

(To stop the slideshow and expand the pictures, click on the current photograph below)

April 10, 2024, Update – We confirmed the listing for this “ClassiFIND” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Several automakers struggled over the years on how to position certain brands within their portfolio. Prior to its spilt between BMW and Volkswagen, Rolls Royce struggled for many years on how to position Bentley cars. In the U.S., Ford struggled to position its Mercury lineup while General Motors never figured out how to get younger buyers into their showrooms. Chrysler’s problem child was DeSoto.  Walter Chrysler founded the DeSoto marque in 1928 to compete in the mid-price class. Introduced for the the 1929 model year, Chrysler positioned DeSoto cars between it’s entry-level Plymouths and more upscale Dodge cars. This positioning continued until 1961 when Chrysler folded the division.

One of DeSoto’s bright spots in its history was the Suburban extended-length sedan produced from 1946 through 1954.  The Suburban differed from other DeSotos in that the four-door sedan featured a longer 139.5″ wheelbase which creating a car capable of carrying eight passengers through the use of factory-installed jump seats.  Most Suburbans were shipped with an optional rooftop luggage rack. With no station wagon in its line-up, the Suburban was at once a car for consumers who needed a large-capacity automobile, and a car almost ready-built for the taxi cab industry.  Richie Cunningham’s father, Mr. C., famously drove a DeSoto Suburban in the 1970s series Happy Days.

I bring that car us as despite the DeSoto Suburban doing well as a “long roof” alternative, by 1950 Chrysler executives believed DeSoto needed a traditional station wagon in its line up.  Consequently, for 1950 DeSoto launched its first station wagon body style on its entry level Custom line. This first-year 1950 wagon was the only model year DeSoto offered a real “Woodie” wagon featuring wood body construction; the following year Chrysler switched to a steel body with wood panels bonded to the car’s exterior. Consequently, DeSoto produced only six hundred true “Woodie” examples, making them an incredibly rare site today.

This Red 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie For Sale, first spotted on Craigslist in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (Charleston) in February 2024, is one of those six hundred still surviving today. This example features a flathead six engine mated to Chrysler’s fluid drive transmission. The seller reports their DeSoto Woodie Wagon for sale is in excellent condition throughout. They note their DeSoto is garage kept, driven regularly, and maintained as needed. Included in the sale is a desirable period correct roof-mounted luggage rack.

The  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 Very Good” estimate of $34,500 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $56,000.  Similarly, as a second data point, the downloadable 2023 Old Cars Price Guide Big Book confirms the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #3 “Very Good” estimate of $36,000 and it’s #2 “Fine” appraisal of $56,000.The 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie wagon stands as a quintessential example of automotive craftsmanship from the post-war era, blending the elegance of wood paneling with the robustness of American engineering. Combining style, practicality, and performance, this vehicle remains an icon of its time, revered by collectors and enthusiasts alike.

At the heart of the 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie wagon lies a robust powertrain designed to deliver reliable performance on the open road. Powering this vehicle is a 236-cubic inch inline-six engine, known for its smooth operation and ample torque delivery. This engine configuration was a popular choice during the era, offering a balance of power and efficiency suitable for both urban commuting and highway cruising. Paired with a manual transmission, the engine provided responsive acceleration and smooth shifting, ensuring a dynamic driving experience.

The exterior design of the 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie wagon exudes timeless elegance, with its sleek lines and tasteful use of wood paneling. The body of the vehicle features graceful curves and chrome accents, reflecting the design language prevalent in the automotive industry of the time. However, what truly sets this vehicle apart is its distinctive wood paneling, meticulously crafted from high-quality hardwoods such as maple or birch. These panels were not only aesthetically pleasing but also served a functional purpose, providing additional strength and rigidity to the vehicle’s structure.

The interior of the 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie wagon offers a spacious and comfortable cabin, perfect for long journeys with family and friends. The seating arrangement provides ample room for passengers, with plush upholstery and supportive cushions ensuring a smooth and relaxing ride. The dashboard features a simple yet functional layout, with gauges and controls easily accessible to the driver. Chrome accents and wood trim add a touch of luxury to the interior, further enhancing the vehicle’s premium feel.

In terms of performance, the 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie wagon delivers a balanced driving experience characterized by smooth handling and responsive steering. The vehicle’s suspension system, comprised of coil springs at the front and leaf springs at the rear, provides a comfortable ride quality while maintaining stability through corners and over rough terrain. The power-assisted drum brakes offer reliable stopping power, ensuring safe and controlled deceleration in all driving conditions.

From a technical standpoint, the 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie wagon embodies the engineering excellence of its time, with meticulous attention to detail evident in every aspect of its design and construction. The combination of a robust powertrain, elegant exterior styling, and luxurious interior appointments makes this vehicle a standout example of automotive craftsmanship from the post-war era. Whether cruising down the open highway or parked curbside, the 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie wagon commands attention and admiration, leaving an indelible impression on all who encounter it.

When searching YouTube for a related video, we came across the Prince of Strides Channel which did a video on this very car. We confirmed the seller’s phone number shown in the “For Sale” sign in the video matches the current seller’s contact info, so they have been trying to sell the car for nearly 18 months.  Unfortunately, the video creator has the share function turned off, so you will ned to copy and paste the link in a fresh browser window to watch it:

Based on the pictures and seller’s description in the video, this 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie Wagon for sale is a sympathetically preserved example that is ready for the 2024 show car season.  With only six hundred produced when new and likely only a handful still in driveable condition, the chances are excellent you will never come across a second example driven to your local Cars and Coffee event.

If you are serious about buying this Woodie Wagon for sale, you can start the conversation by using the contact information provided by the seller in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please mention that you saw their DeSoto featured here on Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Authentic 1950 Desoto “Woodie” Wagon for Sale. Flathead Six engine with fluid drive transmission. Excellent condition throughout. Garage kept, driven regularly, no rust, and maintained as needed. Includes vintage roof rack. Great car – gets all the attention!

Show or go: What would you do with this 1950 DeSoto Custom Woodie Wagon for sale? Please comment below and let us know!


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