A Great Collector Car / The 1936 Cord 810 Cabriolet

The 1936 Cord 810 was first introduced at the 1935 New York Auto Show. The car appeared sleek and fast and was considered cutting edge. So instantly accepted the Cord 810 was that orders for the new model were written up on the spot at the New York Auto Show.

1936 cord 810

1936 Cord 810

The Museum of Modern Art named the Cord 810, designed by Gordon Miller Buehrig, among the ten most significant of the twentieth century. Many vintage auto enthusiasts consider the front wheel drive sporty Cord 810 the most beautiful car ever built. This car was built low, sleek and modern looking. The car's long hood was squared at the end which earned it the name "coffin hood" and "coffin nose".

A good many vintage auto enthusiasts feel that Gordon Miller Buehrig created some of the finest auto designs in the history of the industry.

E.L. Cord / Initial Success and Later Bankruptcy

The Cord automobiles were named after Errett Loban Cord the one time president of Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg. Cord, a very successful automobile salesman and marketer, took over Auburn during the 1920's at thirty years of age and made significant changes to it's sales and distribution network that did boost the company's sluggish sales. Cord was known to be an excellent promoter.

cord 810 styling

Cord 810 sleek "coffin hood"

The end of Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg came in 1937 during the Great Depression. Cord was caught up in a stock scandal and the company was losing money due to the tough economy. The profit margins on their vehicles were not nearly what they should have been. By 1935 and 1936 the company was in trouble and E.L. Cord was replaced as president.

After the bankruptcy the assets of the company were purchased by a man named Dallas Winlsow from Detroit Michigan. Owners who were stuck with their Duesenbergs, Auburns and Cords could look to this new Detroit operation for parts and service.

A Design By Gordon Miller Buehrig

As mentioned above, Gordon Buehrig has been credited with some of the finest auto designing ever put on paper. With Cord, Buehrig could depart from the conservative designs of the era and put together a unique cosmetic touch. E.L. Cord put emphasis on cosmetics and revolutionary styling to help sell cars and Buehrig came through splendidly.

cord cabriolet convertible

1936 Cord 810 Cabriolet

Starting his designing career at Gotfredson Body Company followed by years at Dietrich Incorporated, Packard, GM and Stutz, Gordon Miller Buehrig would become the chief designer of the Cord automobile. Buehrig was also considered the chief designer of the Duesenberg, one of the most popular automobiles of the wealthy and had a close relationship to the Duesenberg brothers. Buehrig would end his auto designing career working for the Budd Company and then the Ford Motor Company until 1965.

The Cord 810 was the car that would try to keep the company out of bankruptcy. As beautiful and cutting edge as these automobiles were and even though the engineering was quite innovative, the Cord 810 could not save the company and Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg filed for bankruptcy and the 810 was only produced for two years.

The Cord brand was produced from 1929 through 1932 and then from 1936 through 1937. The Cord 810 and 812 models during the company's last two years in business are the most popular of the Cord automobiles.

Four 1936 Cord 810 Models

Four Cord 810 models were offered in 1936. These were the Beverly Sedan, the Westchester Sedan, the Sportsman and the Phaeton. All had the same wheelbase.

1936 cord 810 convertible

1936 Cord 810 Convertible

1936 Cord 810 Specifications

The 1936 Cord 810 was produced with a 288 cubic inch Lycoming V-8 engine with aluminum heads. The engine delivered 125 horsepower. The Cord 812 model produced in 1937 had the same engine as the 810 except with the addition of a supercharger. The supercharger in 1937 pushed the horsepower up to 170.

Transmission on the car was a four speed pre-selector manual.

The 1936 Cords had unit construction with an all steel body.

Front suspension was independent with transverse leaf springs. Rear suspension was a tubular steel axle on semi-elliptic leaf springs.

Brakes consisted of four wheel hydraulic drums with cast iron linings.

The 1936 Cord 810's wheelbase was 125.0 inches. It's overall length was 195.5 inches and width 71.0 inches. Curb weight came in at about 3,715 lbs.

1936 Cord 810 sales came in at about 1,174 vehicles. In 1937 only about 1,065 of the Cord 812's were sold.

The new car price tag for the 1936 Cord 810 was around $3,000.

See the AutoMueumOnline articles on the links below...

The 1933 Duesenberg Model J

The 1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster

A Finely Restored 1936 Ford Woody Station Wagon

cord 810 dashboard

Cord 810 dashboard

Valuable Collector Cars

All Cord automobiles are very popular collector cars. Not only is the history of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg company quite unique but their cars were considered cutting edge at the time and not an enormous number of them built. Perhaps the most popular collector car manufactured by this company was the Duesenberg Model J. The Cord 810 and 812 models have just about equal popularity.

The total production of the 1936 810's and the 1937 812's didn't even reach 2,500. These automobiles are rare and some restored originals have current six figure values.

You may also find Cord 810 replica's being offered usually in the $25,000 to $35,000 price range.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)

1929 Cord L-29


1929 Cord L-29

1929 Cord L-29

Cord automobiles were built by the the Auburn Automobile Company between the years 1929 to 1932 and from 1936 through 1937. The Cord brand namesake was E.L.Cord who for years was at the helm of the Auburn Automobile Company. Among other things, E.L. Cord was known for building unique cars.

The Cord L-29 was one of the most distinctive cars ever produced. The 1929 Cord L-29 Sedan shown in this article represents the first front wheel drive vehicle sold tio the public in the United States. The car was created to fill the gap between the Auburn eight cylinder cars and the exotic Duesenbergs. The L-29 was offered from 1929 to 1932 at which time it fell victim to the financial effects of the Great Depression. When the car went out of production, some 4,400 had been sold.

The Uniqueness of the Cord L-29

Cord L-29

Cord L-29

The Cord L-29 was engineered by Harry Miller and Cornelius Van Ranst. Front wheel drive was not something American motorists were familiar with and the new technology did lead to problems.

The front wheel drive chassis meant that the L29 could be made lower than other cars. The chassis was manufactured by the Hayes Body Corporation from Grand Rapids, Michigan. It took the designer several months just working on the body work of the concept car.

The Cord L-29 also was the first among American passenger cars with the "X" braced frame, designed by Herbert C. Snow.

The idea of offering a front wheel drive car appealed to E.L. Cord who's background before joining Auburn was as a car salesman in Chicago. The more unique the better. The Cord L-29 pushed the boundaries of automobile technology.

1929 Cord L-29 classy front end

1929 Cord L-29 classy front end

E.L. Cord with his sales background touted the new front wheel driving in the company's advertising campaign. Cord wrote in part, "Auburn's policy for five years has been to strenuously seek new ways to improve, develop and originate better automobiles. In the course of this earnest search it was inevitable that we should investigate the possibilities of the established principle of front wheel drive."

Another advertising piece for the Cord L-29 stated..."The success of the Cord front drive is the most significant thing in the automobile world today."

The Cord L-29 and the Great Depression

Cord L-29 Convertible

Cord L-29 Convertible

Most observers cite a combination of problems that caused the L-29 to go out of production. The car was expensive. The Cord L-29 cost more than several of it's rivals. In addition, the car came out at about the same time as the stock market crash.

Even a price reduction by Cord failed to jump start sales. Add to that the unfamiliarity of front wheel drive with the car buying public and you have a lot of negative circumstances. In addition to the above, the car's massive 4,700 pound weight powered by a 115 HP engine made for weak overall performance.

Both engineers, Miller and van Ranst, had an Indy Racing background and the drive train design came from that.

Three additional links to photo articles we have on AutoMuseumOnline you'll find interesting are...the 1931 Ford Model A Roadsters...the 1935 Auburn BoatTail Speedster and the Rolls Royce Convertible Phantom.

The Cord L-29 Specs

The engine on this 1929 Cord L-29 is a Lycoming 298 cid straight eight producing 115 horsepower. The transmission is a Sliding-Pinion Model 3 speed. The L-29 wheelbase is 137.5 inches.

The L-29 Sedan

The L-29 Sedan

The car can go from zero to 60 MPH in twenty-five seconds. The car's weight came in at 4,700 pounds making it a heavy vehicle. The price tag of the car when new was $3,095 for the Sedan and about $3,295 for the Cabriolet and Phaeton.

The Cord L-29 Collector Activity

Although the Great Depression had a lot to do with the short production era of the Cord L-29, the car was a big hit winning the 1930 Paris, Monte Carlo and Beaulieu Concours d’Elegance. The new Cord L-29 was offered in a wide variety of factory bodies. A 2012 auction for a 1929 Cord L-29 Special Hayes Coupe reportedly sold for $2.4 million. This particular car returned to the U.S. and used off and on by a Hayes official. The next owner was a Hayes director who eventually put it into storage in the early 1940's.

(Photos from author's collection)