I purchased this 1948 DeSoto Suburban 20 years ago in Tucson, Arizona. I am lifelong car collector and have had my own restoration facility since 1973 having overseen over 50 body-off-frame restorations and a great many general restorations for a variety of people and two celebrities. I know authenticity, originality and quality when I see it. This DeSoto is fully restored and is an authentic original car that has had a quality restoration using proper parts and materials from some of the best suppliers in the industry. But more about this car first.
DeSotos’ and me as a boy
As a boy traveling with my family, I remember the excitement of arriving in big cities by air and train and riding to the hotels and around town in long wheelbase DeSoto taxis. Before I was 10, most of these old style DeSoto taxis were replaced with a variety of makes of regular wheelbase cabs, which lacked the excitement of the 140 inch wheelbase DeSoto S11s. I never saw a DeSoto Suburban until I was an adult and was awestruck with beautiful mixes of woods and materials. It has the excitement of the old taxis, but greatly enhanced with a great deal of elegance. I vowed to have one. Now I’ve had the excitement of restoring a Suburban but there are more cars in the pipeline and I will move on.
DeSoto serial no. 5906787 history
This vehicle, serial number 5906787, has a documented history that tells a story of care and preservation and has a great deal of provenance. It was sold new to Randolf Bohrer, 33 N. Lasalle St, Chicago by Sandra Motors at 711 West Jackson Blvd, Chicago 6, Ill. It appears that Mr. Bohrer was either a well known Chicago lawyer. His address of 33 N. Lasalle St. is a magnificent art deco office building, still pristine today. It is my guess that this prominent Chicago lawyer bought this car new to use in his law practice as a “company” vehicle in and around Chicago. His office in the 42 story building built in 1928, “33 N Lasalle” is landmark in Chicago across from City Hall.
By 1957 the DeSoto resided in Montana and not long after, found its’ way to Arizona where I discovered the car in 1999. The documents show four owners before I bought the car, owners who never exposed the Suburban to anything destructive. (Note: funny thing, look at the spelling of the word “Suburban” on the Owner’s Policy as “Suberben”). It has 81,000 original miles as certified on the title. All documents and other owners’ photographs go with the car.
HISTORY OF CONDITION
The history of good care and preservation is apparent in the car itself: it has no rust as evidenced in a very solid floor revealed in a photo, no evidence of any physical damage anywhere and all of its’ original components were intact enough to properly match the materials, including the headliner, carpet, upholstery.
Forensic research reveals the original materials used in this car
Some of the leading suppliers of proper restoration materials were used in this car: Mopar specialist, Andy Bernbaum Auto Parts , Massachusetts, who supplied all the mechanical, electrical and rubber parts as well as all new reproduction weatherstrip; SMS Auto Fabrics, Oregon, made the headliner from a grey material that is an exact replica of the original. They also supplied the authentically reproduced vinyl for upholstery as used in 1948; Bill Hirsch Automotive, New Jersey who supplied an exact match of the beautiful cut pile carpet; Woodworkers Supply, Tucson, who furnished the correct red oak wood; Ron’s Radio Service of Pennsylvania who restored the original tube radio and installed an NOS dial; Grain-It Technologies, Inc who supplied the woodgraining tools and materials to match the original DeSoto woodgrain; and Harwood’s New Life Stripping and Refinishing, Tucson, who restored all the door panels and dozens of small auto parts suppliers. I am grateful to all of them!
While not a priority, my crew restored this car over a 10 year period. They all loved the DeSoto and treated it with loving care. It has been properly serviced mechanically. The radiator was rodded out and cools properly. All new brakes were installed. Almost all the chrome was replated and some pieces, such as the grill, were replaced with better preserved originals. Many hours were dedicated to polishing all the stainless parts. The windshield and all the side glass has been replaced. The Lucite dash knobs had to be reproduced as the originals were shattered. Paint supplies were from Sherwin Williams.
The upholstery of this Suburban, which is in the correct pattern is particularly impressive. The seats are reupholstered in the correct material and in cut and stitched in the correct pattern. You will note in the photo of the carpet, that it has been cut over the transmission hump in the original pattern used in the Chrysler and DeSoto automobiles of that period. The pedals are all new with the correct heel pad. The heater duct is also covered in the correct vinyl and the outlet painted in the original color as is the heater motor assembly.
It was a very extensive and thorough restoration down to things like the heater blower motors which were rebuilt and even the original AM radio was sent out to be rebuilt and a new chrome antenna installed.
The brake master cylinder was rebuilt with all new components. All the brake lines were replaced with new. All the individual brake cylinders were rebuilt. New brake linings were installed. All four drums were turned. The car stops positively and evenly.
The starter is a massive piece of electrical machinery that was in good shape as just about everything on this car. Nonetheless, after a thorough cleaning, we replaced the brushes and bearings and rebuilt the starter solenoid. The starter engages quickly and solidly with a wonderful sound as it spins the engine.
The generator received the same rebuilding effort as the starter. It's important to have these electrical components in good working order and replace the bearings for free movement.
There was no indication that old water pump was in bad shape, but it was better to replace it. The radiator was rodded out and, of course, all new hoses installed, including those of the heater system.
Engine and transmission:
The entire drive train was and is in good working order. We undertook complete inspection and servicing of the drive train which is refreshed with all knew lubricants. We extended the exhaust pipe with a chrome tip.
Steering and suspension:
As with the drive train, the steering is tight and solid and the suspension showing no signs of deterioration. The car steers very well and the suspension performs properly.
The tires should be replaced with new. Why? The tires are used trailer tires of the correct size. I did this because so many prefer wide-white wall tires on cars of the ‘40s. Such tires would not, in my opinion, look right on this car which features white beauty rings, common to many Chryslers of the period. I couldn't bring myself to put white walls on it because they don't look right. Whitewalls were in short supply after the war and Chrysler substituted white beauty rings. Blackwalls contrast nicely with the white beauty rings. The owner will have to pick and choose the tires he or she wants.
It is a delightful car to drive and want that will prove itself reliable.
In sum, this is a beautifully preserved car that has been professionally and carefully restored to its’ original magnificence with well over 3000 hours of labor spent to accomplish the goal. No cost was too great to do what was necessary to bring it back as it was. It is not a perfect car – I know of none, but it may well be one of the finest DeSoto Suburbans in the world. I’ve had my fun. Time to move on to the next project(s).
The price of $52,500 is far less, as one would suspect, than it cost. But that is true of a great many, perhaps a majority of restorations. The price is, in my opinion, properly calculated for a car of this quality, provenance and authenticity.
Please feel free to ask any questions at acfholm gee mail and will be happy to respond. I would recommend viewing the car before purchase. The car is sold as is with no warranties offered or implied. Shipping is the owners responsibility, but I will certainly assist. Payment is due within 24 hours of the sale by wire transfer to my bank and I will send the signed and notarized Arizona title in my name by overnight mail to the buyer. PAYPAY not accepted - listing forced it to appear as payment method. Contact first. A website is being prepared with over 100 photos of the original car as I found it, then in restoration and finally as the completed project. Thank you!
|“A thorough, extensive and complete detail restoration of an excellent and well preserved original DeSoto Suburban” |
| Year: || 1948 || VIN (Vehicle Identification Number): || 5906787 |
| Mileage: || 81000 || Number of Cylinders: || 6 |
| Make: || DeSoto || Transmission: || Fluid Drive |
| Model: || Suburban limousine || Body Type: || Limousine |
| Engine: || 236 || Warranty: || Vehicle does NOT have an existing warranty |
| Drive Type: || RWD || Vehicle Title: || Clear |
| Fuel Type: || Gasoline || Exterior Color: || Noel green metallic, two tone |
| For Sale By: || Private Seller || Interior Color: || Saddle tan |
| Drive Side: || Left-hand drive |