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1930 Cord L-29 news, pictures, specifications, and information

Cabriolet
Chassis Num: 2928297
 
The front wheel drive Cord L-29 was innovative and different. Its design and mechanical complexity proved the true genius of Errett lobban Cord. Harry Miller and Cornelius Van Ranst were responsible for the engineering. The body was engineered by John Oswald. Auburn's chief designer, Al Leamy, applied many styling accents such as the radiator. The L-29 was available in four body-styles, a Sedan, Brougham, Phaeton, and Cabriolet. The $3000 factory price was very reasonable but the declining global market and the stock market crash was very detrimental to the sale of the vehicle. Fewer than 5,000 examples were produced from 1929 through 1931.

The dark blue example with silver accents and grey leather interior carries chassis number 2928297. It was offered for sale at the 2006 Worldwide Group Auction held on Hilton Head Island. It was expected to fetch between $150,000-$175,000. It is an ACD Certified Category 1 automobile and was originally owned by Mr. Biff Behr, of Bloomingdale, Illinois. Many optional accessories were ordered such as a grille guard, dual side mounted covered tires with attached mirrors, six wire wheels, rumble seat, trunk rack, and cowl lights. At the conclusion of the auction, the vehicle was left unsold.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2009
Convertible Sedan
Chassis Num: FD2936A
 
Sold for $99,000 at 2006 RM Auctions.
Sold for $176,000 at 2014 Barrett-Jackson.
This rare 1930 Cord L29 Convertible Sedan sat atop of a 137.5 inch wheelbase. It was powered by a 298 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine capable of producing 125 horsepower. It had a three-speed manual transmission and quarter elliptic front leaf springs and rear semi-elliptic leaf springs. Stopping power was provided by a four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes.

There were only 1873 Cords produced in 1930, and just over 5000 produced from 1929 through 1932. Only a handful of the four-door convertible sedans were produced. This example was one of the first full production front-wheel drive automobiles built. It has been on display at the Smokey Mountain Car Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for a number of years. It is finished in light gray with royal blue beltlines and trim and a tan top.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2009
Convertible Sedan
Chassis Num: FDA 3837
 
Sold for $192,500 at 2006 RM Auctions.
Sold for $184,250 at 2012 RM Auctions.
Cord L29 Convertible Sedan with chassis number FDA3837 was one of 5010 built from 1929 through 1932. There were 1873 Cords were built in 1930. The folding top is tan in color and matched with a burgundy leather interior. It has recently undergone a complete service. It was estimated to sell between $175,000 - $225,000. At the 2006 RM Auction at Meadow Brook the car sold for $192,500.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2009
Phaeton
 
A Styling Sensation Admired by Frank Lloyd Wright

In 1927, E.L. Cord was a star salesman at the John Quinlan, Moon car agency in Chicago. He was approached by local bankers to see if he could make the Auburn Company profitable again. He accepted the challenge and became president.

The new Cord, a product of the Auburn Company, and the 1929 Duesenberg, were introduced under Cord's leadership. Powered by a Lycoming straight eight of 299 cubic-inches and 125 horsepower, it was priced at $3,295. The economic depression effectively killed its chance of success as a product slotted between the popularly priced Auburn, and the high-end Duesenberg. The total production was 5,010 units, from 1930 to 1932. Al Leamy is credited with the low, sweeping lines on the low-slung chassis, made possible by the front-wheel-drive configuration that created a sensation here and abroad. The L-29 received 39 awards at 23 concours events on the continent. Frank Lloyd Wright remarked that, 'it looked becoming to the houses I design!'

This car was purchased by B.J. Hall in Baltimore, Maryland in January of 1930. A collector completely disassembled the car for restoration in 1958, but never did work on it. In 2004, the current owner purchased it from the collector, then had all pieces restored and reassembled.
Cabriolet
 
The beautiful flowing classic lines and front wheel drive wîth the transmission forward of the engine make the Cord one of the most outstanding automobiles ever produced in the ÚS. The shifter lever is located on the dash panel.

The L-29 Cord was a front-drive car introduced by Errett L. Cord to help bridge the gap existing between his line of Auburn and Duesenberg cars. It was heavily advertised before its introduction by ads frankly targeted to 'those who can afford it'. Its design was hailed by critics on both sides of the Atlantic, but its chances for commercial success ended wîth the stock market crash and subsequent depression. Many connoisseurs today consider the L-29 the best lòòking car of the period.

Source - AACA Museum
Hayes Coupe
Coachwork: Hayes Body Company
Chassis Num: 2927005
Engine Num: FD2638A
 
Sold for $1,078,000 at 2008 Gooding & Company.
One of the most extraordinary one-off L-29 Cords is this Hayes Coupe, which was a collaboration between Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and the Hayes Body Company. At the 1929 Monte Carlo Concours, it won the Grand Prix award. A few days later, at the Beaulieu Concours, the Cord won the coveted Grand Prix d'Honneur. It then toured the United States to great acclaim.

The ultimate representation of a 'one-off-custom-bodied' automobile is this stunning coupe designed for the Hayes Body Corporation of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Its main purpose was to promote the Hayes potential for contract body building and to attract the attention of Cord and the world's automakers.

Upon its completion, this car was sent to Europe and entered in a number of prestigious French concours d'Elegances. Concours rules of the time stated that the car must be driven to the show, and Hayes' first challenge was to get the car from Michigan to Paris for the 1930 Concours.

In 1991, after 50 years of ownership, Brook Stevens sold his masterpiece to Blackhawk Museum. The Hayes Coupe was sold again only a few months later to the current owner. Under current ownership the car was sent to the 1993 ACD National Meet where it was certified as a Category 1 Original Car, and awarded First in Class.

This perfection - combined with the lovely proportions, long hood, extremely low profile, lack of running boards, unique window shape and the luxurious materials in the cockpit - presents a singular automobile that owes nothing to previous designs from any manufacturer or coachbuilder. Put quite simply, the stylistic features of the Hayes Coupe was way ahead of their time.
Phaeton
 
The L-29 Cord, named for E.L Cord, Chairman of the Cord Corporation that owned the Auburn Automobile Company, was introduced in 1929 to great acclaim. America's first production front wheel drive vehicle, it featured engineering by Harry Miller and C.W. Van Ranst and body design by the brilliant Alan Leamy. With its extraordinary long front end and low top profile, the car was a styling sensation that changed automobile design forever. In the words of L-29 Cord owner Frank Lloyd Wright, who owned one from 1929 until his death in 1959, the L-29 was 'Heroic.'
Phaeton
 
The new Cord, a product of the Auburn Company along with the Duesenberg, was introduced under E.L. Cord's leadership in 1929. It was a styling sensation with its low, sweeping lines on the low-slung chassis made possible by its innovative front-wheel drive, and the design won numerous awards both in the United States and abroad. Frank Lloyd Wright remarked that, 'It looked becoming to the houses I design.' This example was originally purchased by B.J. Hall in Baltimore, MD, in January of 1930.
Phaeton
 
The Cord L-29 was the first production car in the United States to feature front wheel drive. The brainchild of automotive builder E.L. Cord, the L-29s front wheel drive allowed for lowered overall body height and spectacularly rakish styling. This Convertible Sedan is powered by a Lycoming straight-eight engine. Lycoming was among the holdings of the Cord Empire.

This car was originally purchased in 1930 by a prominent Baltimore banker. The current owner acquired the car in 2005, 47 years after he initially offered to purchase it from a friend. The car had been completely disassembled by the previous owner, existing in marked, but deteriorating, plastic bags. A full 8-month restoration was initiated and completed in 2007.
Cabriolet Convertible Speedster
 
In the early 1920s, E.L. Cord used his business and sales talents to gain control of the Auburn and Duesenberg automobile companies. In 1929, he created his namesake, the Cord, as the middle-class volume sales part of his ACD conglomerate.

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 different. 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. Stevens wanted more than a cabriolet - he wanted a unique speedster. He extensively restyled the car, adding skirted fenders, a speedster tail and Woodlites. He drove it in races, hill climbs and other sporting events until his death in 1995. The current owner purchased the car from his estate in 1997 and commissioned a two-year restoration.
Town Car
Coachwork: Murphy
 
This handsome L-29 Town Car is one of only three produced by Cord. Simply put, a Town Car is a long-wheelbase limousine with divider window and an open driver's compartment for the chauffeur. With its novel front-wheel drive arrangement, this car was much lower and sleeker than the competition, and was popular with New York cafe society, the nouveau riche and the Hollywood film colony. Of the latter, John Barrymore, Delores Del Rio and Lola Montez all ordered Cord Town Cars custom-bodied by the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California. This example was originally owned by Dolores Del Rio, whose petite size made the lack of leg room inconsequential. Despite its technological advances and voguish good looks, the L-29 arrived at an abysmal period in American history. Even with a seemingly affordable price compared with other cars in its class, the long list of potential buyers dwindled, and the L-29 was out of production by 1932.

While the four factory bodies for the L-29 Cord were stunning, E.L. Cord wanted to offer a full line of coachbuilt bodies for his namesake car. Having a close relationship with the Murphy Body Company regarding the Duesenberg Model J, it was only natural that Murphy built at least one half of the coachbuilt L-29s. Among the most breathtaking are the Town Cars, built on both the standard 137.5-inch wheelbase and the stretched 152.5-inch wheelbase. The profile of these cars with their low height, raked windshield and close-coupled bodies is simply perfect. Movie stars, including Dolores Del Rio and John Barrymore, loved these cars.
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: Murphy
 
Considered by experts to be the ultimate classic design, the 'dual-cowl phaeton' was out of style by 1930 due to its impracticality; but the design was continued on custom-ordered cars. It was this attention-getting appeal that prompted E.L. Cord, president of Auburn Automobile Company, to order seven phaetons from Walter M. Murphy Coach Builders, Pasadena, CA, famed 'coach builder for the stars.' Each car had a distinctive color combination and subtle changes. They were exhibited around the world at the largest and most prestigious auto shows.

This car was first owned by W.A. Clark III, owner of the Pilot Ray Turing Light Co. Clark was also the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg dealer in Phoenix, AZ. He took delivery on November 30, 1930, after the car made the show circuit tour. Clark owned the car only three years.

Franklin Hershey, the car's designer for Murphy, was a mere 23 at that time. He gave the present owner guidance as to details and colors during the car's 18 years of restoration. Designing the top bows to fold into a neat package at the rear was an art form at the time. Similar body designs, but higher, were later fitted to several Duesenbergs. Murphy Body Company closed its doors in late 1930, avoiding the rush in 1931-1932.

The chassis frame was lengthened 9-inches to give an even longer, lower look to the already silhouette of the Cord, which was made possible by the lack of a drive shaft to the rear. Power is a 298.6 cubic-inch straight-8, L-head Lycoming engine that developed 125 horsepower and tons of torque. Cost, new, for chassis and body, was around $15,000 (about 30 Fords). Two of the original seven phaetons still exist today.
Cabriolet
Chassis Num: 2928140
 
Sold for $187,000 at 2009 RM Auctions.
Of the two front-wheel drive American cars announced for 1929, Errett Loban Cord was the first to market. His Cord L-29 began production in June, followed a short time later by Archie Andrews short-lived Ruxton automobiles. The Cords were referred to as 'Cord Front Drive' in company literature. The car was never given a name and would adopt the prototype's I.D. number 'L-29' as its model designation. The company offered four factory body styles comprising of a Sedan, Brougham, Cabrioelt and Phaeton (also known as a convertible sedan.) The prices for the convertibles began at $3,295 while the closed cars began at $3,095.

This particular car has styling by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, a young Russian nobleman who began designing automobiles in the 1920s. He would win five Grands Prix at the Monte Carlo Concours d'Elegance, and the L-29 was his fifth win and the first for an American car.

The front wheel drive configuration allowed for a design that was lower than most other cars on the road. It was given a streamlined grille, the first to surround the radiator with sheet metal. Riding on a 137-inch wheelbase, the chassis consisted of the industry's first X-braced frame and front brakes mounted inboard to reduce unsprung weight. The transmission was mounted behind the front axle in combination with the Lycoming 298.6 cubic-inch straight-eight motor.

Between the 1929 introduced and when production ceased on December 31, 1931, Cord produced 5,010 units. It was followed by a new L-30 but the Great Depression had taken its toll on the company, and full production never happened.

This L-29 was purchased by Ernest Cook in 1939 and remained in his care until 1982, when it was acquired by the current owner. The car has been restored several years ago and painted in classic dark blue and power blue combination with tan canvas top with light blue leather interior. There are dual side-mounted spares and side view mirrors, leather straps and oak tire locks, chrome wire wheels, trunk rack, rumble seat, and its original windshield wipers and wiper motor.

In 2009, this Cord L-29 was offered for sale at the Sports & Classics of Monterey auction in Monterey, California presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $200,000-$250,000. The lot was sold for the sum of $187,000, including buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2009
Sedan
 
The Cord L-29 was not inexpensive - the sedan and brougham were priced at $3,095 and the cabriolet and phaeton were priced at $3,295. Prices were lowered for 1931 but the luxury car market was beginning to disappear, thanks, in part, to the stock market crash. By late 1931 L-29 production ended with just over 5,000 cars having been built.

The Cord L-29 was one of two front wheel drive cars introduced in 1929 and is certainly the best remembered. The other - Ruxton - was short-lived.

The Cord L29 was built by entrepreneur E.L. Cord's Auburn Automobile Company. Cord also owned Duesenberg, Inc. It was positioned between the popularly-priced Auburn and the very expensive Duesenberg. The Cord L-29 was powered by a 298.6 cubic-inch, inline eight motor by Lycoming Motors (another Cord-controlled company) that developed 125 horsepower.

Four body styles were available in 1930: a brougham, convertible coupe, convertible sedan and sedan. Base price of the sedan was $3,295. While it was - and remains - one of the finest designs of the 1930s, sales were low, due in-part to the Wall Street Crash of 1929. L-29 production ended in 1932.
Cabriolet Convertible Speedster
Chassis Num: FDA1423
 
Sold for $165,000 at 2011 RM Auctions.
The boat-tail 'LeGrande' speedster was designed by Phil Wright, who had left Murphy Coachbuilders. He headed to Detroit in search of work where he found it with Auburn. Auburn Automobile Company president Roy Faulkner found Wright's sketches intriguing and authorized the construction of a body. Company stylist Alan Leamy was called in to make the car more 'Cord-like,' and a single example was built.

The finished product was put on display at the New York Auto Show. It was purchased by MGM executive Paul Bern for his wife, actress Jean Harlow. The car was then taken to France, with the intent of exhibiting it at the Paris Salon. When they returned to the United States, the car was left in France. Since then, the history of the car is not fully known. A reproduction was later created, with financing from North Carolina orthodontist Fay Culbreth. Upon completion, the car became a permanent exhibit at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. Several other reproductions have been built, the last example was created in 2005.

This reproduction was acquired in 2005 from the Al Wiseman Collection in Florida. It is finished in red and black and rides on chrome wire wheels. It is a 1999 AACA National First Prize winner, with Senior status.

In 2011, this vehicle was offered for sale at the Hershey Auction presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $150,000 - $190,000. As bidding came to a close, the vehicle had been sold for the sum of $165,000 including buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2011
Cabriolet
 
This Cord L-29 was shipped to Buenos Aries when new where it remained until returning to the United States in 1978 in complete disrepair. The car passed through several owners, until a full restoration was started in 2000. After several years, the current owner acquired it, supposedly 75-percent restored. Actually, the previous work had been poorly done, so the current owner started over to do the job right, completing it in the fall of 2011.
Convertible Sedan
Chassis Num: 2928013
Engine Num: FDA3160
 
Sold for $324,500 at 2012 Gooding & Company.
This Cord L-29 Convertible Sedan belongs to Christopher Cord, the grandson of E.L. Cord. The car was completed in April of 1930 and was one of 1,163 convertible sedans built.

The car was owned by Fred Weber of St. Louis, Missouri and then by co-owners Esther Price Candies, Ralph Schmidt and Jim Day. In the mid-1990s, it was given a restoration. Mr. Cord acquired the car in 2009 and had it ACD Certified as #CL-043 in 2010. In 2011, the car underwent a mechanical restoration.

The car is finished in two-tone combination of red with claret highlights on the running boards and fenders. The beige pinstripe accent that sweeps around the fenders, hood and doors is coordinated with the beige canvas top and rich leather interior. It rides on whitewall tires on chrome wire wheels and there is an original luggage trunk attached to the rear.

This Cord has won 1st place in the Primary Class at the ACD Annual Reunion in 2010, the prize for Most Exciting Open Car in Show at the 2010 Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance, and First in Class as well as Most Outstanding Cord in the Niello Concours at Serrano in 2011.

It is believed that this car is one of only 25 that are still in existence.

In 2012, the car was offered for sale at the Pebble Beach auction presented by Gooding & Company. The car was estimated to sell for $200,000 - $250,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $324,500 inclusive of buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2012
Sport Cabriolet
Coachwork: Voll & Ruhrbeck
Chassis Num: 2927898
Engine Num: FD 3029
 
Sold for $990,000 at 2013 RM Auctions.
Voll and Ruhrbeck of Berline was a world-class builder of fine custom coachwork. Their work graced the finest of chassis, including Horch, Mercedes, Daimler, Bugatti, Maybach, and Rolls-Royce. Their work would also adorn the Cord automobile.

This example wears Sport Cabriolet coachwork by Voll and Ruhrbeck. It is believed that, in order to expedite the process, the chassis was absconded from the original show car sedan. Just 10 months after the chassis had departed Indiana, it appeared in its new formal dress, as it wears today. It made its debut at the February 1931 Berlin Motor Show. It was among a selection of Auburn and Cord offerings presented by Fahrkraft G.m.b.H., the Auburn-Cord distributors in Berlin. The March issue of Auburn's dealer newsletter, The Accelerator, displayed the sport cabriolet, picturing it with Mr. Schmidt, of Hamburg distributor Franck & Schmidt, and Ruth Ingrid Richard, Miss Germany.

The car has very large doors that open to reveal a five-passenger interior clothed in thick leather and capped with polished mahogany. In the front are bucket seats and a assist handles crafted of woven leather to help in closing the massive doors. There is beltline molding that flows through the doors and then sinks under the edges of the convertible top and flows down around the rear fenders. There is a low, raked windshield with a subtle visor. The top bears landau irons and wraps around an unusual spring-loading mechanism, which assists in raising and lowering the bows and fabric. The windows roll down through custom tracks, which then fold away to disappear when the windows and top are lowered.

Inside is a complete interior headliner, giving it the fell of being an enclosed car. In the back is a leather-covered trunk.

It is believed the car remained in Germany until around 1940, when it departed the country for reasons unknown. The final destination was Argentina. The story resumes in the early-1970s, when it came into the care of Ken O'Connor, of California. Selling the automobile was Argentinean broker Hector Mendizabal. Mendizabal had described the car as a German bodied Cord bearing the coach number 1686. Upon arrival to the pier in San Francisco, CA, the car was not in pristine condition, but it was complete and retained its original serial number plate and numerous custom trim pieces. At the time, it was the only known extant European-bodied L-29, and it was an ideal basis to begin a restoration.

O'Connor planned to complete the restoration work himself, but as years passed, the car was never completed. In 2002, he sold the project to Jim Fasnacht who had the work completed. The restoration was handled by the specialists of LaVine Restorations in Nappanee, Indiana. Numerous L-29 experts were contacted and interviewed, ensuring the work was done correctly. The goal was 'cost-no-object' perfection in every nut and bolt. The work was completed in March 2004 and then shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August 2005, marking the first time that the Voll & Ruhrbeck Sport Cabriolet had been displayed to the world since 1931. The car scored Second in Class, behind the 1931 DuPont Model H Sport Phaeton by Merrimac.

A month later, the car returned to Auburn, Indian, for the first time since its chassis departed for Europe seven decades prior, to be shown at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club's National Reunion. The car was awarded the E.L. Cord Award, marking it as the Best L-29 of the show. It also won the Harold Ames Trophy for Best of Show from over 300 judged ACD cars. Its next show appearance was at the 2013 Concours d'Elegance of America at St. John's.

By Daniel Vaughan | May 2013
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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Cord: 1920-1930
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L-29

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