The 1950s were a halcyon period for American car manufacturing. After the deprivation of the war years, the American public yearned for a little excess—bigger, faster, flashier. Catering to this new appetite, during the 1950s American manufacturers went through a rapid period of automotive development, both technically and stylistically. On the technical side, the widespread development and use of the V8 engine ushered in a new war—one of ever escalating power, while in the styling department, wartime advances in jet technology and the growing prospect of space travel heralded a new and rapidly evolving automotive aesthetic that saw American cars grow not only bigger, but sleeker and with an ever more outlandish cadre of fins, bullets and other aircraft-inspired flourishes. While all of the major American manufacturers prospered during this decade of flashy excess, one in particular seemed to ride the crest of that wave best—DeSoto. Like most large waves, however, that one came to a crashing conclusion by the end of the decade, and in DeSoto’s case, with devastating consequences.
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