Posted on: Sep 26, 2012
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1956 DeSoto Fireflite Indy Pacesetter for Auction in Texas


Tweed interior and a dashboard record player were clearly required to set the pace at the 1956 Indianapolis 500.
Pace cars (known overseas as safety cars) make for some great collectors' items, and few of them as sought-after as an Indy 500 pacer. For the 1956 running of “the greatest spectacle in racing”, that duty fell to DeSoto - a Chrysler division that, like Plymouth and Eagle, long ago vanished into the dustbin of history. Between 1928 and 1961, it was a fixture of the American automotive industry every bit as much as Dodge, Chevrolet or Ford.

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To commemorate its status as the official pace-setter for the Indy 500, DeSoto released a limited run of 400 replicas. Based on the Fireflite convertible, the Pacesetter special edition featured the same livery as the pace car, and the dealerships were sent the stencil to add the lettering on the side at the owner's request. The livery was backed up by a 255-horsepower, 330 cubic-inch OHV Hemi V8 with Carter four-barrel carbs and a pushbutton three-speed automatic. This particular example has been well cared for and was fully restored to original condition, including a refit of the power-operated vinyl top and a reconditioning of the original upholstery.
The cabin is distinguished by gold vinyl upholstery with tweed inserts and even has a Highway Hi-Fi 45 record player (iPod connectors wouldn't be invented for another half-century). With only 16,877 miles showing on the odometer, this rare vehicle is expected to fetch between $100,000 and $125,000 when it's auctioned off by RM as part of the Charlie Thomas collection in Texas next month.

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