Cord – an automobile ahead of it’s time
The Cord automobile was manufactured from 1929 to 1932 and for 1936 and 1937 by the Auburn Motor Company. During its production years the Cord had a reputation for integrating imaginative and new ideas into the vehicles produced. The company’s owner, E. W. Cord, had the idea that innovation equated to higher profits but this idea proved to be a better theory than it was when put into production.
© Alexeys | Dreamstime.com – Cord Classic Car Photo
The L-29 model integrates front wheel drive –a first in North American models but a few months later the Ruxton was introduced their version. The front drive wheel idea was developed by engineer Carl Van Ranst and based on Indianapolis race car designs of the time with the car also featuring de Dionlay out and inboard brakes; with no drive shaft. These two features allow the car to be lower to the ground than other cars of that time. Therefore there are no running boards on the L-29 which is a very uncommon feature on automobiles of this vintage. The only definition I could find for “inboard brakes” is vague and in Wikipedia. They can be either disc or drum design and are mounted on the frame of the vehicle- possibly to stop the axle rather than the wheel . The car also has a full complement of instrument gauges; speedometer, gas, oil level, and ammeter. The engine is a 301 cu in (4.93 L) inline L-head eight cylinder made by Lycoming and will develop 125 hp (93 kW). The driveshaft extends out through the front of the block and has the fly wheel mounted on the front end to drive the three speed transmission. but the gearing in the differential is poor and insufficient to power the heavy L-29 which has a curb weight of 4,700 lbs (2,100 kg). The car has a top speed of around 80 mph (130 km/h) and will not keep up with the lesser Auburn off the same assembly line. The car is styled well and looks beautifully streamlined winning awards worldwide for the innovations it uses but it could not keep up with the depression either and was discontinued in 1932.
The 810 and the 812 models were the hit of the New York Auto Show in November 1935. These are the best known Cord models and they are powered by a 289 cu in (4.7 L) Lycoming V8 engine putting out 125 hp (93 kW) and are bolted to a four speed electronically selected semi-automatic transmission. Sleek no nonsense body lines without running boards, sporting hidden headlights, and a flat front grill with louvers-which later took on the moniker of “Coffin nose”. Front wheel drive, independent front suspension, and low to the ground these models are styled way ahead of their time. The Cord Company took orders at the show for Christmas delivery but only a few of the prepaid orders were delivered by February most did not reach the new owners until April of that year. Mr. Cord had plans to produce 1,000 vehicles per month but the sales only reached a total of 1,174 units after one full year’s production.
Problems with the car slipping out of gear and the carburetor developing vapor lock managed to cool off the warm response the models got at the auto show with many of the dealers dropping the Cord line from their rosters altogether. The left over units from the 1936 model year are marketed as 1937 automobiles. There was one unit produced in 1938 as a “prototype” with a few minor changes to the grill and transmission covers. This single example was still in existence as of 2009. E.L. Cord sold the automobile company to the Aviation Corporation with rumors of fraud flying through the air. Mr. Cord’s empire collapsed and he moved to Nevada where he made millions in the real estate business.