1931 Cord L-29 news, pictures, specifications, and information
Phaeton Sedan
Chassis Num: 2930071
Engine Num: FF 4998
Sold for $156,750 at 2015 RM Auctions.
The Cord L29 was the first production automobile with front-wheel drive. All models, open and closed, were built on a 137.5 inch wheelbase. The Lycoming straight-engine produced 125 horsepower.

Because of the front-wheel drive feature, the L29 Cord was much lower and sleeker than most cars of the day. It lasted from 1930 to 1932 during which 5,010 cars of all body styles were produced.

This 1931 L-29 Phaeton Sedan (Convertible 5-passenger Sedan) was has a known history since the 1950s, and was restored in the 1960s and was a CCCA winner in the late 1960s. It was later owned by Tom Lester's wife, Shirley, and then resided in Bobby Crump's Museum in New Orleans until the 1990s when the current owners purchased it. The car rides on a 137.5-inch wheelbase and weighs 4,500 pounds. It is powered by a 298.6 cubic-inch, in-line, 8-cylinder engine developing 125 horsepower. It was the most expensive Cord in 1931 and sold new for $3,295.

The car has just completed extensive 'refreshing.' The A.C.D. Club has certified this car as an authentic Cord and one of only 17 of this body style left in the U.S. as of March 31, 1993. It is the 4,771st L-29 built. It is a late 1931 production model and is equipped with the 'FF' engine, which was a bored-out 322 cubic-inch unit that was stronger than earlier version, and reportedly produced more horsepower, and came with a more efficient exhaust manifold.
Prototype Speedster
Coachwork: LaGrande
Chassis Num: 2927156
Engine Num: FD2687
Sold for $418,000 at 2007 RM Auctions.
Sold for $290,800 at 2012 Bonhams.
Sold for $368,500 at 2012 RM Auctions.
In 1930, Auburn Automobile Company president Roy Faulkner ordered Cord's in-house LaGrande coachbuilders to create an L-29 Speedster show car based on concept sketches provided by stylist Phillip O. Wright. The boat-tail speedster was sleek and modern, with aircraft inspired 'pontoon' fenders and a steeply raked Vee windshield. The LaGrande Speedster made its show debut at the 1931 New York Salon, followed by an appearance at the Paris Auto Show and then a French Concours d'Elegance. Near the close of 1931, it was sent to Toronto for a photo-shoot. It is believed to have returned to Europe a short time later. Unfortunately, that is where the history ends. It is believed to have been scrapped during World War II.

In the mid-1990s, Arnold A. Addison was commissioned to restore a cord L-29 convertible Sedan. The result of the work netted him a spare L-29 frame and other authentic components. A correct 298 cubic-inch Cord L-29 engine and front-drive three-speed transmission was also obtained.

After extensive research, work began on re-creating the legendary 1931 Cord L-29 LaGrande Speedster. The car was finished in Cashmere Cream and Royal Cranberry colors. In 2004, after nine years and 20,000 man-hours of research and labor, the new LaGrande Speedster was completed.

The car features a working convertible top, a cigar rack built into the driver's door, and a bar set including two decanters which fits into the passenger door. As per the original, a (reproduction) Duesenberg-type altimeter supplements the standard L-29 instrumentation.

In 2007, the car was purchased by the late John O'Quinn.

In 2012, the car was offered at The Scottsdale Sale presented by Bonhams. It was estimated to sell for $250,000 - $350,000.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2012
The Cord L-29 was priced at $3,295 but, having been introduced coincidentally with the stock Market Crash, only 5,010 were built when production ceased in 1932. L-29 referred to the prototypes D number and was adopted as the models name.

This L-29 Sedan was residing in an airplane hangar in Waxahachie, Texas when the current owner purchased it. It was all original and complete. A four year restoration was completed in 2007 and it won best in class at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club in 2007 and 2008.
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
Manufactured by the Auburn Automobile Company, the L-29 was one of the first front-wheel drive cars and was considered the star of the 1929 model year. The car was also named in honor of the manufacturers Owner and President, E.L. Cord. Front-wheel drive made it possible for the car to have a low profile and caused quite a stir in the auto industry in 1929. The front-wheel drive innovation allowed the L-29 Cord to be the official pace car for the 1930 Indianapolis 500 race.

The motor is a Lycoming straight eight with a 298 cubic-inch displacement that generates 125 horsepower. The transmission is mounted in front of the engine and the shift lever changes gears in an innovative manner.
Prototype Speedster
Coachwork: LaGrande
This 1931 Cord is an authentic recreation of the car that made its debut at the 1931 Paris Automobile Show. Paul Berns, the husband of screen actress Jean Harlow, purchased the original car off the Paris show floor. It was designed by 23-year old Philip Wright. Construction of the original was credited to LaGrande, a fictitious coachbuilder of Union City Body Company, a Cord subsidiary.

The L-29 Speedster was displayed at auto shows in both Europe and the United States in 1931 in hopes of stimulating slumping Cord sales. It won first prize in the 'Concours d'Elegance en Automobile' in Paris, France in June 1931.

This replica was built using an original Cord chassis and running gear. Much attention was paid to creating an exact replica, and the result is stunning. The replica was the creation of Dr. Fay Culbreth, who commissioned Stan Gilliland, of Kansas, to build the vehicle in 1994. The coachwork was constructed by Mark Kennison. Guided by archival photographs from the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, the coachwork was reconstructed and the car assembled on an original L-29 chassis. The car has an unusual amenity for a car built during prohibition. A panel on the passenger's door opens to reveal a hide-away cocktail bar.

The fate of the original Phil Wright speedster is not known.

This front drive replica is powered by a 298 cubic-inch Lycoming eight-cylinder engine offering 125 horsepower. It rides on a wheelbase that measures 138 inches.

By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2016
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
Chassis Num: 2930061
Sold for $341,000 at 2012 RM Auctions.
This Cord L-29 cabriolet has spent most of its life in the Los Angeles area. Its earliest known owner was Eddie Brewer, a dialect coach at one of the Hollywood film studios. In the late 1940s, Brewer sold the car to Osro J. Smith, a charter member of the Horseless Carriage Club of America. In the 1960s, it went to Smith's daughter, Marcella Smith Cartwright, from whom the current owner acquired it in 1996. A 12-year restoration followed. The power train includes the rare 322 cubic-inch engine made available late in 1931. It has been completely rebuilt with insert bearings and modern seals.

The work was completed just one week before the 2009 Auburn Cord Duesenberg Reunion, where it was honored with the E.L. Cord Award as the Best L-29 and Best of Show with the Harold T. Ames Award. Other recent awards include a First Primary award, with 100 points, at the 2010 Classic Car Club of America meet at Malvern, Pennsylvania and a First Junior from the Antique Automobile Club of America at Canandaigua, New York. It received First Senior honors at the 2010 Auburn Reunion and Best American Classic at the Radnor Concours d'Elegance in Pennsylvania.

Awards in 2011 include First Senior at 100 points at the Dearborn, Michigan CCCA Grand Classic meet, Senior Emeritus and Best L-29 at the Auburn Reunion, First Premier at the Canton, Ohio Grand Classic and Best Classic at the Glenmoor Gathering.

In 2012, the car was offered for sale at the RM Auction's Amelia Island sale. It was estimated to sell for $225,000 - $275,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $341,000 inclusive of buyer's premium.
Phaeton Sedan
This Cord L-29 Phaeton was imported back from Uruguay and completed a 20 year restoration in the late 1990s by a previous owner. The L-29 Cord was the first American front-wheel drive car launching just months of the Ruxton automobile in 1929. The drive system was borrowed from Indianapolis 500 race cars using the same deDion chassis layout and inboard brakes. This allowed the car to be much lower than conventional cars and enabled the spectacular design developed by Alan Leamy. The L-29 rode on a 137.5 inch wheelbase and was powered by a Lycoming 301 cubic-inch straight 8-cylidner engine producing 125 horsepower.
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
Chassis Num: 2929040
Engine Num: FD3696A
Vin Num: F-117
Sold for $231,000 at 2013 RM Auctions.
This Cord L-29 Cabriolet was built in July of 1930 and was a late 1930 model that remained unsold as the industry entered 1931. The chassis was re-numbered by the factory from 2928480 to the present 2929040, explaining the presence of both numbers of the chassis.

The car was in long-term ownership by Tom Landers and Bobbie Crump of Louisiana, prior to joining the present owner's collection. The car was given a restoration in the late 1990s, and was issued Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club certification number CL-077, certifying it as a Category One car.

The car is finished in red and black, with a black leather interior and black canvas top. It has dual side-mounted spares, chrome wire wheels, driving lights, and dual cowl lights.
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
This 1931 Cord Rumble Seat Cabriolet has been driven 13,800 miles since new. This front-wheel drive vehicle has been well maintained since new. It has a rumble seat, white wall tires, dual side mounts, and chrome bumpers.

The Cord was one of only two marques available for sale in 1930-1931 with front wheel drive. With front-wheel drive it eliminated the need for a drive shaft, hence cords are significantly lower than their contemporaries, thus appear racier.

E.L. Cord sold pizzazz, consequently the Cord cars were presented in striking color schemes, unusual features, look at the Art Deco touches, especially on the dash board area and what was presented as advanced engineering.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2010
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
The Cord L-29's front-wheel drive system provided outstanding handling and tractability for its time, but the car was not a high performance machine: top speed was only 75 mph. As an attempt to solve that issue, later Cords such as this Cabriolet featured the larger 'FF' engine, which provided slightly more power and torque.

The original restoration of this factory-bodied L-29 Cord was performed for noted enthusiast Chip Conner, and was awarded Second in Class during the L-29 feature year at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 1987.

Collector Jim Fasnacht acquired the car from Conner 15 years later, and had the restoration extensively freshened, with great attention to accuracy and authenticity. The car returned to Pebble Beach and was again a class winner. It went on to garner Best L-29 at the ACD Club National Reunion, where it was judged by the most knowledgeable L-29 experts and found to be flawless.

The car has unusual headlamps known as Woodlites. These were a popular accessory on low-slung 1930s luxury automobiles. The design was intended to focus a narrow beam of intense light directly forward, rather than spreading the light in a method of 'bowl' headlamps of the day.
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
Chassis Num: 2929245
Engine Num: FD 4046
Sold for $280,000 at 2013 Bonhams.
There was just one two-door factory model cataloged in Cord's four-model L-29 lineup - the all-weather Cabriolet with rumble seat. This particular example is from the family of the late Reno physician Dr. William A. O'Brien III. Dr. O'Brien purchased the L-29 in 1953 for $350 after discovering the car in Lovelock, Nevada. The car was in poor shape and was in need of a full restoration. After purchasing the vehicle, a restoration began. The work took four years to complete and cost $15,000. Upon completion, it was finished in black with the chassis and inner fender surfaces done in red. It was given chrome wire wheels, available by special order in 1931.

The car was then shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where it won its class and was Runner-Up to a Rolls-Royce Phantom III for top honors. The car was shown only once after that, at a Harrah's show in 1966. During 2008, Dr. Obrien's heirs lent out the Cord for a National Automobile Museum display in Reno.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2016
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
The current owners purchased this car in 1976, in what would be called 'in barn find' condition, from John Cowan in Danbury, Connecticut. He apparently purchased the car in 1953 from a dealer who in turn bought it from Elizabeth B. Ganung of Millerton, New York, who was the last registered owner. John Cowan proceeded to disassemble the Cord from the firewall forward, which is the way it was found in 1976. Every nut and bolt was removed from the engine with parts strewn all over the barn floor mixed in with a lot of Corvair parts thrown in for good measure. Restoration started in December 1976, but came to a grinding halt a few years later with three boys in college and a business. It was pulled out of the garage in 2002 (some 22 years later) and the restoration was completed in 2012.
Coachwork: Limousine Body Mfg. Co.
There is no disputing the fact that the Cord front wheel drive automobiles of the 1920's are a true engineering and styling marvel. The powerful straight eight engine provides 125 horsepower, allowing performance that rivals its impressive styling.

The L-29 is credited as being the first American front-wheel drive car to be offered to the public, beating the Ruxton automobile to the market by several months in 1929. The brainchild of former Miller engineer Carl Van Ranst, the design of the drive system was borrowed from Indianapolis 500 dominating racers, using the same de Dion layout and inboard brakes. This allowed it to be considerably lower than other cars. The L-29 features full instrumentation, including a temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, and speedometer on the left, with a gas gauge, oil level gauge, and Ammeter on the right of the steering wheel. A number of ahead of its time features are also found on this Cord. Among them are the inboard mounted brakes and central internal chassis lubrication, uncommon among luxury automobiles of the era.

This L-29 Cabriolet was found in a garage in Key West, Florida in the mid-1970's. The current owners' brother had started a full restoration, but was unable to complete it. The current owner then took on the task, commissioning the final restoration which was completed in 2010. Finished in Brilliant Blue with gleaming chrome wheels, this is an outstanding example of one of the classic era's sleekest and most desirable Cabriolets.
Coachwork: Limousine Body Mfg. Co.
Chassis Num: 3916
Engine Num: FD 4023
Sold for $187,000 at 2017 RM Auctions.
The Cord L-29 was the first major American production car with front-wheel drive. Due to its lack of having a driveshaft tunnel allowed for the bodies to be mounted low on the frame, resulting in a vehicle that was no taller than a person of average height. On the inside, they had flat floors, allowing for spacious and comfortable seating. Unfortunately, the L-29 was born at the worst possible moment, and was offered to market to just as the Great Depression's crushing weight came down on the automobile industry. As a result, production of the car faded away into the history books in late 1931.

This particular example is a cabriolet that has a history that can be traced back to 1946, when it was purchased for $750 by a Mr. Huffey of Cincinnati, Ohio. After several intervening short-term owners, it was purchased in 1953 by Jerry Fisher of Piqua, Ohio, largely complete, less its top and several small items. Hubert Wood of South Charleston, Ohio, performed an amateur restoration in 1969. It was purchased in 1980 by a new owner who proceeded to drive it to his private museum in the American West, where it remained until 2013. It is currently in European ownership and has been comprehensively restored by Packard and Classic Cars of Bremen, Germany. The car was completely disassembled, with the frame sandblasted and powder-coated, springs and axles disassembled, sandblasted, and painted. A full engine rebuild included new Babbit bearings, pistons, rings, and shell bearings, a new camshaft, the crankshaft polished and balanced, and the block bored and honed and heads planed. The cooling system, water pump, generator, and starter were rebuilt, with a new radiator. The transmission was checked and cleaned, and new clutch and pressure plate installed. Front ball joints were custom-made and hardened to original specifications.

This car has its original chassis, engine, and cabriolet body. It has its unrestored original luggage rack and its original serial numbers and body tags.

By Daniel Vaughan | May 2017
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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Image Left 1930 L-29
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