Monday, 5 September 2011

Cord's grandson honours his work

Cord's grandson honours his work

This year marks the 75th anniversary of what, in my humble opinion, is the most beautifully-designed [American] car there has ever been - the 1936-37 Cord 810/812SC.

As always, there is a healthy fan-cum-drivers club in America today as well as a museum and it is the former which has this year organised its annual run around the Cord 810.  I also like the great idea of baseball-style cards being handed out to the local youths of Auburn, Indiana where the cars were originally produced.  It's an inspired way of connecting them with an important aspect of [their] motoring history, in a fun and tangible way.  Well done to Mr Hummel, and here's hoping the 2011 Auburn Cord Duesenberg reunion was a great success.

The Cord Corporation built it's first car in 1929 - the L-29.  This ground-breaking automobile had a front wheel drive layout at a time when every other car in the States was driven from the rear; indeed it was the first such car in America ever and with the exception of the later Cords fwd would not be seen again on a US car until the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado. The L-29 was produced for 3 years until 1932 before a break of another 3 years whereupon the 810 arrived.
Founder of the Cord Corporation, Erret Lobban Cord, had already bought the Auburn Automobile Company and Duesenberg during 1925-26.  Until their untimely demise in 1937 Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg (under the design direction of Gordon M. Buehrig) produced some of arguably the best looking cars of the decade, such as the Auburn 851 Speedster and Duesenberg Model J (below).

The Cord 810 was another innovative design.  Front-wheel drive again, it was the first car anywhere in the world with retractable "pop-up" headlights (which were actually originally landing-lights from a light aircraft, and were operated by two hand cranks inside the car).  Other pioneering features included electrically-operated variable-speed windscreen wipers and a radio as standard (the latter offering not seen again for another 20 years).

The next year, 1937, saw the introduced of the supercharged 812, which would prove to be the last hurrah for E.L. Cord's empire.  No other car so perfectly captures the 1930s aesthetic of Art Deco/ Streamline Moderne and the glitz & glamour that such designs continue to evoke.  An example of the Cord 810 was later displayed in the New York Museum of Modern Art, surely forever answering the question "Can a car be art?".

*These two fine examples, below, are probably about as close as I'll ever get to having my own Cord 812SC and Auburn 851 Speedster ;-)*


  1. Each and everyone of these lovely ladies is a dream, I have oohed and ahhhed at everyone ,at least you have your models, and your dreams one day, maybe one day, to own a full size one ,I know I am for ever hopeful.

  2. Ive never heard of or even seen a Cord before, but after reading your post I'm much more well informed. Aren't they beautiful cars and so of their time.

  3. Swoon-a-Rama! My Birthday's coming up... hint hint

  4. Beautifull!!! Such a shame cars are nowhere near as classy and stylish nowadays!! X

  5. Auburn 851 Speedster and Duesenberg Model J are the sharpest of the lot. Glad you're back at it, Sir!


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