Many great American car brands have been reduced to trademarks and empty factories in the past century. Among these is DeSoto, which for over 30 years was one of Chrysler’s mid-priced brands (along with Dodge). Yet by 1961, Chrysler found the brand redundant, and buried it without much pomp or circumstance. The DeSoto faithful are few and far between, though they count at least one famous gearhead in their ranks.
We are referring to talk show host and comedian Jay Leno, who recently had a chance to take a ride in the “Derelict DeSoto” built by ICON, who originally entered the scene with their modern interpretations of classic 4x4s. They’ve recently expanded their business into the “derelict” line of vehicles that look like hell on the outside, but underneath they’re modern and masterful machines.
The idea behind these derelict rides is to take as-is bodies found in junkyards and scrap heaps, and leave them looking just as they are. From there, ICON adds all sorts of performance goodies. In the case of the Derelict 1952 DeSoto wagon, ICON actually started with a classic Chrysler Town & Country body before adding the DeSoto front end.
From there they sat it on a brand new chassis that includes a 6.1 liter HEMI V8 engine, modern suspension, and big, new brakes. In order to maintain that classic look though, ICON kept the original HEMI V8 valve covers, though the SRT8 engine is all modern otherwise. It is quite an incredible car, an entirely different take on the Pro-Touring craze that has been sweeping many aftermarket mod shops.
As far as old, ugly cars go, this is one of the coolest we have seen, and Jay Leno definitely seemed to enjoy it…and we would too. After all, there is no worrying about the fancy paint job or somebody leaning against the hood. Ugly on the outside, a monster on the inside, a true rat-rod fantasy come true.