Streamlined 1935 DeSoto Airflow SG

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The Airflow's wind-cheating design seemed too avant garde in the mid-1930s

Chrysler’s attempt to introduce a boldly aerodynamic automobile to the American public at the height of the Great Depression was fraught with failure. The streamlined styling was just too strange for folks accustomed to the boxy designs of the day, and the effort nearly broke Chrysler for good.

Public taste finally caught up about a half century later, and now such survivors as the Pick of the Day, a 1935 DeSoto Airflow SG coupe, are considered landmarks of artistic design.

“Today, the Airflow is considered an Art Deco masterpiece,” notes the Orlando, Florida, dealer advertising the DeSoto on ClassicCars.com. “It’s a car that testifies to progressive design and engineering blending into one perfect form.”

The coupe’s beautifully flowing rear treatment

The DeSoto coupe was a shorter-wheelbase form of the Airflow, and arguably the best-looking of the breed. This one shows the Art Deco flourishes that seem so evocative to modern eyes, such as the gleaming waterfall grille and the winged trim on the fender skirts. The deep-red paint nicely sets them off.

The Airflow has been driven nearly 91,000 miles, the dealer says, and remains “a remarkably rust-free vehicle.”

While no restoration history is mentioned in the ad, the photos show that the coupe appears to be in very good condition with a nice interior, shiny paint and chrome, and a clean engine compartment. The seller does provide in the ad a very informative overview of the Airflow model.

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The DeSoto sports a luxury interior of the era

Chrysler’s designers and engineers accomplished quite a few technological advances with the Airflow aside from the smoothed-out streamline design created with the help of a wind tunnel, such as unibody construction, flow-through ventilation and Lockheed hydraulic brakes. The passenger compartment was centered between the front and rear axles.

The DeSoto airflow design lasted only three model years, from 1934-36, before the company returned to more-traditional shapes. Chrysler Airflows lasted a year longer. The leftover four-door models were often turned over to taxicab fleets, where they can be spotted in vintage movies dropping off fares in Manhattan.

This attractive DeSoto is priced at $59,500.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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