The DeSoto (also spelled "Desoto") is Sam's beloved car in the Sam and Max universe. Specifically, it is a "DeSoto Adventurer", a limited number model of car from the 1950s-1960s. It is the 1960 model that is featured in the cartoon series. It is a hardtop in all appearances except the Telltale series, where it is an open-top (it is stated in-game that it isn't the old DeSoto, though it's otherwise exactly the same. It's also indicated that the top can be raised - they mention specifically driving through a lake with the "top down", but it is never seen in that form). The license plate number is RLW 822 (registered New York) in all versions except in the animated series, where it is SRP 695, and some promotional footage for 'Sam & Max: Freelance Police,' where it is SMNMX.
With its black and white paint job and "Sam & Max: Freelance Police" decals on the side doors, it takes the duo wherever they need to go. It is capable of time-travel, driving underwater, taking its passengers into outer space, and extremely long car trips. In the animated series, it is equipped with a "Rat-Gat" ("it came free with our last muffler job") and was worked on by the Geek. In Telltale's Season Two, Sam and Max were able to collect back trunk decals and the C.O.P.S. gave them various upgrades.
Temporarily, during Sam & Max Season One, the DeSoto is redecorated to reflect Max's office as President of the United States. The Freelance Police logo is replaced by a presidential seal, and American flags are added as adornments. These are changed to be Canadian briefly during Bright Side of the Moon.
In the beginning of Season Three, Sam and Max are living in the DeSoto since their building has been sealed off due to the road cracking. The C.O.P.S, minus the Bluster Blaster, are also living in it, with Bob replacing their office phone. In Beyond the Alley of the Dolls, the DeSoto is briefly stolen by the Samulacra/Dogglegangers. Max has the option of using Rhinoplasty on a picture of the Desoto in Stinky's Diner to transform himself into a miniature version which he called "DeSoto II: Diesel Boogaloo", but it only attracts the Sam clones' attention. In The City That Dares Not Sleep, Sybil modifies the DeSoto so it can travel inside Elder God Max, exchanging the tires for suction cups, implementing hot dog scented air fresheners, etc. The car was spat out when Max sneezed and is not seen for the rest of the game.
It is referred as a "she" and has a soul which Sam and Max had to rescue from Hell. Returning from Hell did have a negative impact on the DeSoto as it now drives itself and tries to run over anything that moves. Sam let Abe and Sybil drive away in the possessed DeSoto after their wedding, but then was left wondering if that was such a good idea. In Season Three, the Desoto returns, however it is no longer possessed, It's not known if this is a continuity error or if the car was exorcised outside what we know for certain.
- Max: Mind if I drive?
- Sam: Not if you don't mind me clawing at the dash and shrieking like a cheerleader.
Since Max can't see over the steering wheel or easily reach the pedals and it's a disaster waiting to happen, Sam usually won't let him drive. But like so many things he really shouldn't, he occasionally allows it anyway. Max has driven non-trivial distances in the following stories:
In addition, Sam often asks Max to take the wheel when he needs his hands free while driving (generally to shoot stuff), especially in the driving mini-games in the Telltale series.