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1929 Cord L-29 news, pictures, specifications, and information

Cabriolet
Designer: Harry Miller
 
The L-29 was engineered by racecar builder Harry Miller and one Cornelius Van Ranst. Its power plant began as the 125 horsepower, 289.6 cubic inch, Auburn straight eight, but ended up quite differnt. The cylinder head was modified for a rear engine mount. According to one Cord authority, the L-29 engine had over 70 unique parts.
The super-long front allowed body engineer John Oswald to craft a flowing hood fenders ensemble, and Auburn chief designer Al Leamy applied a Duesenberg-style radiator that only accented that impressive length and lowness conferred by front-wheel drive. In all, the L-29 looked sensational in its four 'factory' body types: Sedan, Brougham, Phaeton, and Cabriolet. Numerous celebrities bought L-29s, and coachbuilders at home and abroad created stunning custom bodies. Standard models were fairly priced in the $3100-3300 range.

Brooks Stevens purchased this Speedster new and redesigned the body in the mid 1930s. It has many advanced design features for its time and is extremely fast and agile for an L-29. Mr. Stevens kept the car for 65 years and used it in many road races, hill climbs and road rallys. The current owner purchased the car from his estate in 1997.

By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2008
This was the first front-wheel-drive car to get serious production in America. Cord was introduced in November 1929 and was designed to occupy a sales position between Auburn and Duesenberg automobiles. This car is a category No. 1 certified original car and was the 78th of 633 produced in 1929.

The Cord was powered by a 298.6 cubic-inch, 125 horsepower, straight eight-cylinder engine, and the 4,300 pound car rests on a 137.5 inch wheelbase. The standard Cord sold for between $3,000 and $3,300.
Cabriolet
Designer: Harry Miller
Engine Num: FDA 1282
 
Sold for $165,000 at 2007 Christies.
This 1929 Cord L29 Cabriolet was offered for sale at the 2007 Christie's auction of 'Exceptional Motor Cars at the Monterey Jet Center.' It is finished in black with red coach-lining and red leather interior. The eight-cylinder, side-valve engine measures 298.6 cubic-inches and is capable of producing 125 horsepower.

This example has been in the same ownership since the late 1980s and has been exhibited in a museum. The prior history is unknown and a chassis number could not be found on the vehicle. It has an older restoration though is still in fair condition. It has many of its period fittings such as the engraved door handles, firewall mounted sidelights, golfers/doctor's side door, luggage rack, and dual side mounted spares. It has a chromed mesh grille and chrome wire wheels.

It was offered without reserve and estimated to sell at auction for $120,000 - $200,000. Those estimates proved to be accurate as the car was sold for $165,000 including buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007
Cabriolet
Designer: Harry Miller
 
This elegant Cord features a restoration that was done totally by its current owner. The owner purchased the car in 1995 and undertook the project in his restoration shop.

The Cord L-29 was America's first mass produced front wheel drive automobile. The stance was eleven inches lower than the average production car of its day. With a 137-inch wheelbase it makes for a very sleek looking vehicle. Cord's of this era could be painted in a custom color such as this white example, for an additional cost of $20.

The Cord L-29 was one of the first cars in the world that featured an interior that was styled to reflect the lines and grace of the exterior. Under the bonnet was a 298.6 cubic-inch Lycoming straight eight, which produced 125 horsepower. The wheelbase measures 137.5-inches, and the car weighs 4300 pounds. When new, the Front Drive Cord L-29 Cabriolet cost $3295.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2010
 
This 1929 Cord was owned by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Wright purchased a Cord L29 Phaeton in 1929. He had the car painted in rusty orange color, known as 'Taliesin Orange.' 'The Cord has taken several foreign prizes for body design and it was nearest thing to well-designed car I had ever seen outside of Europe,' said Wright in his autobiography. 'The Cord seemed to have the right principle-front-wheel drive pulling instead of pushing along. It certainly looked becoming to my houses- the best design from my streamline standpoint ever put on the market. The Cord was an innovator along right lines that changed the whole field of body design for the better.'
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2010
Sedan
 
From 1929 to 1931, Cord produced a total of 5,014 L-29 models, the first mass produced front-wheel drive American automobile. This sedan rides on a wheelbase that measures 137.5 inches and is powered by a 125 horsepower Lycoming eight-cylinder engine.

This example is an original example that was built in October of 1929, which was the first full month of production. It is perhaps the earliest surviving unrestored example of an L-29. During the production run, many recalls, changes and updates were made on the L-29 such as changing the size of the wheel spokes and moving the batter to the side of the vehicle from under the hood. None of those changes were performed on this vehicle, which makes it a great example of initial production run of Cords.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2010
Town Car
Coachwork: d'Leteren Freres
Chassis Num: 2926758
Engine Num: FD1395
 
Sold for $154,000 at 2013 RM Auctions.
In those early days car companies came and went; only the strong survived. In 1924 the Auburn Motor Company found itself in dire straits and recruited a young Erret Lobban Cord to make things right. Cord was a former race car driver, mechanic, car salesman, and a very astute businessman.

By 1928 he controlled Auburn. He created the Cord Corporation as a holding company for what eventually became 150 companies including Duesenberg, Lycoming Engines, Checker Cab, as well as aircraft manufacturers, airlines, and shipbuilders. In 1929 he launched the Cord line and positioned it between Auburn and Duesenberg as a middle-class, higher-volume model.

This car has had only four owners. It was originally purchased by Henry McVickar, a well-to-do friend and sometime business acquaintance of E.L. Cord who always owned several fine coach-built cars at any one time. He decided to transfer the D'Leteren Freres Town Car body from his 1927 Minerva to the Cord rolling chassis. The skilled craftsmen of Buffalo coachbuilder Brunn did the conversion, including changing it to left-hand drive. Interestingly, the original front seat leather shows evidence of being patched to cover the speaking tube that was moved from right to left.

It stayed in the McVickar family until 1940. It has been meticulously maintained and makes for an outstanding driver. It features rare appointments such as the smaller spoke wheels, unvented front brake covers, and a four-blade fan. It is unrestored and is an outstanding window into a time long past.
The Cord L-29 was revolutionary, using a front-wheel drive system rather than the popular rear-wheel drive configuration. Many believed that having the front wheels be responsible for turning, carrying the bulk of the weight, providing stopping power and for driving were too much. With the rear wheel drive systems, the weight could be dispersed throughout the body to take advantage of weight distributed. Cord wanted to be different and explore the possibilities of a front-wheel configuration.
Errett Lobban Cord was a visionary, promoter, young and intelligent individual when in 1924 he joined the Auburn Automobile Company which was under performing in respects to sales. Cord was able to revitalize sales and by 1926 he was in control of the company. He then began buying up companies such as Duesenberg Motor Company and Lycoming and brought them under the Cord Corporation.

With control of Duesenberg and Auburn automobiles, the Cord Corporation was positioned for success. What the company lacked was an automobile that could fill the price gap that existed between these two nameplates. The result was a luxury car named after himself, the Cord L-29. The Cord L-29 used a front-wheel drive system. Many people believe Cord used the front-wheel drive configuration because he wanted to exploit the advantages of a low-profile design. Rear-wheel-drive cars sat higher above their driveshafts because the engineers had not figured out how to let the shaft run through the passenger compartment.

Cornelius Van Ranst was tasked as the chief engineer for this unique automobile. John Oswald, a man responsible for many of the Auburn designs, contributed to the L-29. The result was dramatic styling that was attractive and elegant.

Under the hood lurked an 299 cubic-inch eight-cylinder Lycoming engine. The 125 horsepower engine could carry the 4600 pound vehicle to a top speed of just 77 mph, a respectable speed but not the fastest vehicle available.

Since it was a front-wheel drive system, the normal mechanical configuration needed rearrangement. The transmission and differential were in the front, ahead of the engine. The hood was very long, a result of having so many mechanical components in the front. The rear suspension used leaf springs and a beam axle while the front used a deDion type solid axle with quarter elliptic leaf springs.

As was the case in early years of automotive construction, custom coachbuilders were often tasked with providing the bodywork and designs. In 1930 an L-29 with styling courteous of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky was bestowed with prestigious awards at the Monaco Concours d'Elegance.

Two months after the introduction of the Cord L-29 the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Just like many other manufacturers during this time, sales plummeted and production was low. To compete, Cord dropped prices in 1930 in an attempt to stimulate sales. For 1931 a large engine producing just over 130 horsepower was installed under the hood. Unfortunately, this was not enough and production ceased at the close of 1931.

During its production run lasting from 1929 through 1931, fewer than 5,000 total examples were created. In 1930 only 1,873 united were produced. Although production was halted in 1931, there were 157 L-29's dubbed as 1932 models.

By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006
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