1955 Chrysler DeSoto “Chupacabra” Overland Build at Northwest Overland Rally, WA

1955 chrysler desoto overland build

Dave Mackey is the owner & builder of this one-of-a-kind overland Chrysler DeSoto 4×4 that he aptly named “Chupacabra”. As I was heading out for the day from the NW Overland Rally, Dave had parked near the entrance and I took the opportunity to introduce myself so I could learn more about his build.

From it’s naturally aged patina to the unique overland armor & 4×4 transformation, this overland DeSoto is a visual masterpiece. Attention to details include things like the purposely strapped down hood, or the old shotgun and hat rack seen peering through the rear window, or even finite details like one of the letters on the trunk emblem being crooked.  The contrast of the green and rust patina along with Dave’s overland upgrades sure make his 1955 DeSoto a visually appealing rig. It attracted onlookers like a bug to a bug zapper (myself included).

It doesn’t stop there, as Dave backs up his creative overland DeSoto vision with function in a practical manner. As a simple solution, Dave dismantled a donor 1986 Ford F-250, shortened the chassis 30” and mounted the DeSoto body on top. Surprisingly the rig has no lift, yet is able to fit 37” Nitto Trail Grappler tires on late model Dodge wheels.  Dave kept the F-250’s pedals, dash and floor pan which extends all the way back to the rear bumper. With the massive rear trunk, Dave set things up so the rear seat could be removed, and there’s enough room to slide a full 4×8’ sheet of plywood inside.

Dave fabricated a full roll cage on the interior, as well as the front/rear armor.  The rear bumper features a swing out spare time mount, so you can still access the trunk. A Warn winch is tucked away within the front armot, and the roof rack was fabricated from the donor F-250 and acts as a rock solid platform for a Tepui roof top tent.

Thanks Dave for sharing details of your overland DeSoto build it’s certainly a one of a kind.  You can follow the Chupacabra DeSoto on Instagram: @1955_chupacabra

rear view of overland desoto
Rear shot of the overland DeSoto. Notice the old shotguns in the window. Rear swing-out bumper fabricated by owner Dave Mackey
desoto logo front grille with overland light bar
overland desoto front end with front brush guard
overland DeSoto front end. Front brush guard fabricated by owner Dave Mackey