Cord Owners Group

Cord was the brand name of a United States automobile, manufactured by the Auburn Automobile Company from 1929 through 1932 and again in 1936 and 1937.

Location: USA
Members: 4
Latest Activity: Sep 23, 2011

Cord History

Cord was the brand name of a United States automobile, manufactured by the Auburn Automobile Company from 1929 through 1932 and again in 1936 and 1937.

The Cord Corporation was founded and run by E. L. Cord as a holding company for his many transportation interests, including Auburn. Cord was noted for its innovative technology and streamlined designs. It is said[citation needed] Cord had a philosophy to build truly different, innovative cars, believing they would also sell well and turn a profit. This did not always work well in practice.

1930 L-29Cord innovations include front wheel drive on the L-29 and retractable headlights on the 810.

Front wheel drive became common in the United States only in the 1980s, though Citroën introduced the Traction Avant in 1934, Ford offered it in certain models of its German-built Taunus, and General Motors sold the front wheel drive Oldsmobile Toronado in 1966 and Cadillac Eldorado in 1967. As personal luxury cars, these two GM models, especially the Toronado, were undoubtedly influenced by Cord.

Retractable headlamps did not become common as a standard feature until the 1960s (though DeSoto used them in 1942). The early Oldsmobile Toronados, whose GM stylists later stated they were trying to capture the "feel" of the Cord's design, also featured retractable headlights.

Cord L-29
This was the first American front-wheel drive car to be offered to the public, beating the Ruxton automobile by several months. Its drive system allowed it to be much lower than competing cars. Both stock cars and special bodies built on the Cord chassis by American and European coachbuilders won prizes in contests worldwide.
Cord Model 810
The body design of the Cord 810 was the work of designer Gordon M. Buehrig and his team of stylists, which included young Vince Gardner. Nearly devoid of chrome, the new car was so low it required no running boards. Pontoon fenders were featured with headlights that disappeard into the fenders via dashboard hand cranks; a wraparound grille and concealed gas hatch were also featured. Its engine-turned dashboard included complete instrumentation, a tachometer and built-in radio. A Lycoming V8 engine powered the car.

The new car caused a sensation at the 1936 New York Auto Show in November. The crowds around the 810 were so dense, attendees stood on the bumpers of nearby cars to get a look. Many orders were taken at the show, but the cars were not ready to deliver until February. The engine featured a transmission which extended in front of the engine, like a Traction Avant. As a result, the front wheels were well forward of the engine. This also enabled the floor of the car to be much lower than the typical automobile.

Supercharging was made available on the 1937 812 model. Supercharged 812 models were distinguished from the normally-aspirated 812's by the brilliant chrome-plated external exhaust pipes mounted on each side of the hood and grill.

Demise of the Cord
1937 Cord 812 Sedan (Supercharged)Early reliability problems, including slipping out of gear and vapor lock, cooled initial enthusiasm. Although most new owners loved their sleek fast cars, the dealer base shrank rapidly. Unsold left-over 1936 810 models were re-numbered and sold as 1937 812 models. In 1937, after producing about 3000 of these cars, Auburn ceased production of the Cord. A single 1938 Cord protoype with some changes to the grill and transmission cover was built, and it still exists to this day (2008). The Cord empire was sold to the Aviation Corporation, and E.L. Cord moved to Nevada where he earned millions in real estate and other enterprises.

The design of the Cord 810/812 remains one of the most distinctive of the 20th century. In 1996, American Heritage magazine proclaimed the Cord 810 sedan ‘The Single Most Beautiful American Car.’ The ‘Classic Cord’ Hot Wheels toy car of the 1960s, a convertible coupe, is one of the most valuable, and commands up to $800 (2006) if still in an unopened package.

The sensational Cord 812 design was re-marketed almost immediately in 1940, but as a weakly-funded effort by ailing automakers Hupmobile and Graham-Paige, trying to save money by using the same body dies. Their 4-door sedans, the Hupp Skylark and the Graham Hollywood, were unremarkable. Retractable headlights gave way to plain headlight pods, and power came from a standard front-engine/rear-wheel drive design. Only about 1900 were built before production ceased in the fall of 1940. Between 1964 and 1970, two further attempts were made to replicate the original Buehrig design for limited production. Both Tulsa, Oklahoma-based companies soon halted production amid financial difficulties. The 1966 replica Cord 8/10 was powered by a Corvair drivetrain, while the 1968 thru 1970 models were Ford and Chrysler powered.

Cord Front Drive Model 812, 1937 USA
Cord 812
Cord 812

External links
Cord vehiclesAuburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club
Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg Museum
Automotive History Online - Cord History and Photos Albums
CordNet, a site for Cord enthusiasts
History of second generation Cord Automobiles

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Comment by Ed Dooley on March 17, 2011 at 3:02pm

A special invitation to Cord owners:

Especially those in and around the Chicago area.

Have a 24x36 photo illustration of your vehicle created by


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