This week, Aestheticons’ serial petrol-head, Grant Calton’s time machine conveys him to the 1930’s where he braves Prohibition to indulge his probably incurable Cord 810/812 habit.
A majestic mass of chrome curved, Art Deco, coffin nosed, high style, gangsteresque, motor car …
What else could I be referring other than the Cord 812. Oh lordy me I have so long had a vision of myself cruising the great, American open roads in one these beautiful beasts and that vision is so alive and real I almost don’t need to buy one. Except …
Cord was a brand name manufactured by the Auburn Automobile Company in Connersville, Indiana, from 1929 to 1937. The man at the top was one E.L. Cord who multifarious motoring interests. Mr Cord had a strong philosophy that building truly innovative and unique cars, would result in huge sales and add plenty of cash to his bottom line. This did not always work well in practice.
The 810/812 – without a doubt the best of the company’s offerings – was designed by Gordon M. Buehrig and was a sensation at its launch at the New York Auto Show in 1935. They featured front-wheel drive, independent front suspension and a 4,739 cc (289 cu in) Lycoming V8 with a four-speed electrically-selected semi-automatic transmission – all cutting edge autotech at the time. Oh and don’t forget those glorious hidden headlamps, which didn’t become popular until the 60’s.
Orders were taken at the New York show with Cord promising delivery December 1935. Production delays pushed the expected delivery date to February 1936 and then back again until April 1936. In all, Cord managed to sell only 1,174 of the new 810 in its first year. The car is well known for the flat front nose with a louvered grille design.
These delays were followed by early reliability problems, which cooled initial enthusiasm, leaving unsold cars and which were re-numbered and sold as 1937 812s. In 1937, Auburn ceased production of the Cord. A single 1938 Cord prototype with some changes to the grille and transmission cover was built, and it still existed in 2015.
The Cord empire, amid allegations of financial fraud, was sold to the Aviation Corporation, and E.L. Cord moved to Nevada where he earned millions in real estate and other enterprises. Nowadays the most valuable can fetch north of $150,000 (new they were $1,995).
Stars in Cars…The plot of the David Niven movie Where the Spies Are features a rare Cord 812 convertible as the incentive for the hero to undertake an espionage mission.
In the novel Live and Let Die, Felix Leiter drives a Cord (unspecified model) when he and James Bond are in Florida.
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