1 of 100 Produced: Multiple Award-Winning 1956 DeSoto Fireflite Indianapolis 500 Pacesetter Convertible

  • April 14, 2021
The Rundown
  • 1 of 100 Examples Produced
  • Extremely Rare as 1 of 19 Known Survivors
  • Documented by Chrysler Historical Records
  • Fabulous Surf White & Adventurer Gold Paint
  • Gold Vinyl & Brown Tweed Cloth Interior
  • 255hp “Dual-Quad” 330ci ‘Hemi’ V8 Engine
  • Powerflite Automatic Transmission
  • “Hiway Hi-Fi” Record Player
  • Multiple Award Winner
Why We Like It

Chrysler Corporation and its popular DeSoto marque were on a roll during the 1950s thanks to outstanding engineering and the design prowess of famed styling director Virgil Exner and his massively successful “Forward Look” design theme. The DeSoto Fireflite Convertible was selected to pace the 1956 running of the Indianapolis 500 and 100 examples were produced to commemorate the occasion. Known as the DeSoto Fireflite Pacesetter, the pace cars were essentially convertible versions of the DeSoto Fireflite Adventurer Hardtop, the Chrysler division’s first ‘Supercar’ of the 1950s.


1-of-100-produced-multiple-award-winning-1956-desoto-fireflite-indianapolis78660273-770-0@2XAccording to our seller, this Pacesetter is one of only 19 such cars remaining in existence. Documented by Chrysler Historical records, it was built February 7, 1956 with Adventurer Gold accents, colors, and trim including Code 438 Surf White paint with a distinctive Adventurer Gold color sweep over Code 569 Gold vinyl and Brown Tweed cloth upholstery. Plenty of power is provided by a freshly restored Dual-Quad 341 CI Hemi V8 engine developing 320 factory-rated horsepower. Additional features include a Powerflite pushbutton automatic transmission, power windows, power front seat, power brakes, and correct new convertible top. If additional entertainment is required, the Pacesetter is equipped with a DeSoto radio and 16 2/3-rpm “Highway Hi-Fi” record player and records. A "DeSotomatic" self-winding, steering wheel-mounted watch includes 15 jewels and was made in Switzerland by Benrus, exclusively for Chrysler Corporation. “Indianapolis Pace Car” magnetic decals are also included for use as desired.


This Pacesetter has earned many honors, including use as the Vintage Track Day Pace Car at Roebling Road Raceway in Bloomingdale, Georgia, as part of the Hilton Head Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival. The pacesetter has also been invited to the invitational 100th Running Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Reunion and it has received an Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) National Award nomination and the top AACA Senior Grand National Award, scoring over 390 out of 400 possible points. This outstanding automobile is offered from a well-known Mopar collector/restorer, who is now in the process of reducing their collection to a more manageable number, offering a truly out-of-the-ordinary and wonderful opportunity for another appreciative collector to carry the torch into the future.

Valuation Verdict

Exceedingly rare when new and far more so today, this 1956 DeSoto Fireflite Pacesetter Convertible has it all, including fabulous ‘50s design by “Ex,” dashing colors, and a powerful Hemi V8 underhood. Coming from a knowledgeable collector, it is also stated to run and drive great. It will certainly provide plenty of fun when it ventures out of the garage on a nice stretch of open road. Regarding values, Hagerty pegs the 1956 DeSoto Pacesetter from #94,800 for an excellent #2 car and $151k for a concours-worthy #1 specimen. This excellent automobile seems to be in #1 quality, and with its long list of honors, fits the part. While the seller’s ask is above Hagerty’s #1 price estimate, it feels 'Fair Market' to us. Besides, where or when will you find another one, let alone one in such fine order?

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