E.L. Cord's, Cord Corporation, was noted for innovative, sometimes extreme, designs incorporating the newest ideas and technologies. In almost every way, each of Cord's automobiles were more like concept cars than what would be considered regular production cars. Perhaps no single Cord design reflects the company's and Cord's own approach to car making than the Cord Model 812.
The designers at Cord managed to take shapes like arcs and rectangles and create something radical, and yet, that looked so good. And the 812 is perhaps the most extreme adaptation. Minimal was not in the company's vocabulary.
E.L. Cord had been able to rescue Auburn Automobile Company, and then, negotiated the purchase of Duesenberg in 1926. That wasn't enough for Cord. He wanted to have his own car manufacturer that would produce his kind of automobiles. Therefore, later on in 1926, Cord launched the car company bearing his own name.
Using Lycoming engines (another company Cord had purchased), in only three years after coming into existence, Cord produced its L-29. The car was designed to ride low to the ground and was a beautifully designed coupe. It ended up winning the Monaco Concours d'Elegance in 1930. Besides offering custom coachwork, the L-29 introduced the automotive world to an important feature that would be all but standard by the late 1980s. Cord's L-29 was the first American automobile to offer front-wheel drive. After over 5,000 L-29s were built, production ceased at the end of 1931.
Cord decided not to merely re-fashion the L-29, but instead, decided to start over. Debuted at the New York Auto Show in 1935, Cord's new 810, with its expressive shapely lines, belonged more in the world of concept car than regular production model. In and of itself, the car was truly ahead of its time. It incorporated many features that wouldn't be all available in one car for nearly another thirty years.
The brain-child of Gordon Buehrig, the 810 and 812 were part science-fiction and a designer's unlimited imagination. The Cord 810 and 812 were real over-the-top works of art. While the L-29 shared a refined look similar to Cord's other company, Duesenberg, the 810 was a radical departure, more-akin to what a teenager of the time would design.
The 810 introduced more innovations that were ahead of its day. Hidden on the front side of the voluptuous front wheel Pontoon fenders were the car's pop-up headlights. Though offered on a DeSoto during the 1940s, the pop-up headlight wouldn't really become available until the 1960s.
Another of the aerodynamics features that made the 810 out-of-this-world and ahead of its time, was the position of the door hinges on the inside of the car so they did not protrude on the outside. The hood, too, was changed. Most designs of the day had hinged panels that opened from either side of the engine bay. The 810 incorporated a hinge located at the back of the bay near the passenger compartment. This meant the entire hood lifted up. In addition to these innovation design features, the 810 also had variable-speed windshield wipers and a standard radio. A car in those days even having a windshield wiper was a big deal, let alone one that was variable speed. And a standard radio wouldn't even be offered in cars until the 1950s.
Besides the large Pontoon fenders, equally attracting one's attention was what became known as the 'coffin nose'. What essentially is one heavily rounded rectangle based shape, the nose/engine bay sports a wrap-around grille and highly-polished exhausts pouring out of the side of the engine cowling. Inside the passenger compartment, the Phaeton model housed a three-person back seat, whereas, the convertible version used this space for storage of the top.
The only major difference between the 810 and 812 was the inclusion of supercharging. On the 812 a supercharger was included that boosted horsepower to 170 bhp, although it was known to actually produced between 185 and 195 bhp.
The car offered for auction this year was a 1937 model 812, and therefore, one of only about 700. Being a supercharged Phaeton, it is believed this car is one of just 134 produced by Cord. The car has been part of a private collection for many years and just recently went through restoration. Finished in black and accented by highly polished chrome and white-walled tires, this impressive 812 was expected to fetch between $150,000 and $200,000.
Its interior is finished in red leather and is accented in black trim and an etched metal dash. It sports the 812's four-speed pre-selector transmission. It has a transverse leaf spring front suspension via trailing link. This 812 has a trailing arm front axle and a live rear axle. It makes use of four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes for its stopping power.
The supercharged 812s boasted superlative performance. When combined with the magnificent design and innovative features, the 812 provides an experience way beyond its years. Though Cord's car company went out of business, it paved the way for the future. And the 812 truly stretched the limits of automotive design and innovation.
'Buy: View Lots (Lot 245: 1937 Cord 812 SC Phaeton)', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ11&CarID=r207&fc=0). RM Auction Arizona. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ11&CarID=r207&fc=0. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Cord Automobile', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 December 2010, 12:57 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cord_Automobile&oldid=403343000 accessed 11 January 2011By Jeremy McMullen