1929 Cord L-29

E.L. Cord's fast rise and eventual collapse of his massive industrial empire remain one of corporate America's most fascinating and tragic stories. Effective marketing was responsible for the rapid turnaround of Auburn in the mid-1920s, and continued increases in sales were attributed to innovation, styling, and value-rich products.

E.L. Cord's Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg empire would build some of the greatest cars of the prewar era. The L-29 Cord, conceived in 1927 and introduced in 1929, was built as a gap-filling model priced between his Cord Corporation's Auburn and Duesenberg lines, the latter being completely redesigned that year. The engine was from another one of Cord's companies - Lycoming. It was a straight-eight 'flat head' unit displacing 298 cubic inches and fitted with a single carburetor, helping to develop 125 horsepower at 4,000 RPM. The L-29 used a front-wheel-drive system, then much in vogue at Indianapolis. The engine was paired with a three-speed manual transmission, and the steering required four turns lock-to-lock. The wheelbase measured 137.5 inches and the height of the sedan was 61 inches.

E.L. Cord was an avid race fan and was impressed by the performance of the Harry Miller-designed front-wheel-drive Junior 8 Special. In 1926, he acquired the passenger-car rights to Miller's FWD designs, created by Cornelius Van Ranst and Tommy Milton. Van Ranst was hired to assist with the development and adaptation to a production vehicle, and driver Leon Duray was hired to consult on the Cord's drivetrain that would be fitted in Herb Snow's (and Van Ranst) new X-frame chassis - the world's first. The first prototype was ready for testing by November 1927. Fred Duesenberg, Cord's Chief Engineer, assisted with the assessment, and staff designer Al Leamy contributed to the coachwork. The long drivetrain package required by the inline eight-cylinder engine and front-drive system required a very long hood, which Al Leamy gracefully integrated into the rest of the body.

The Cord L-29 was offered in various factory bodies, including custom coachwork created by American and European coachbuilders. The low-slung L-29 chassis provided design possibilities that were not afforded by conventional rear-wheel drive vehicles. In total, 43 custom-bodied L-29s were created and currently, twelve are known to remain in existence today. Initially, L-29 coachwork included a sedan, brougham convertible coupe, and Phaeton with prices that ranged from $3,095 to $3,295. Production was ultimately hindered by the devasting effects caused by the stock market crash of 1929, and just 5,010 L-29s were ever built, of which approximately 300 remain in existence.

Another front-wheel-drive automobile was announced in 1929 - the Ruxton. E.L. Cord introduced his L-29 to the market faster than Archie Andrew's Ruxton. These were not the first attempts to bring an American front-wheel-drive car to market, as Walter Christie had attempted this task prior to World War I. The success of the Indy 500 cars revitalized the idea, and the novelty of a lower silhouette and lower center of gravity provided untold potential. Unfortunately, the Great Depression would prove to be its Achilles Heel, and Cord's existence was brief, ending in 1937.

Production reached the intended figures of 5,000 units, after which an updated version was to be introduced, dubbed the L-30. The Depression hindered these plans, and after production ceased on December 31, 1931, the final 157 examples built were titled as 1932 models. Four years later, another front-drive automobile was introduced, the Cord 810. By this point in history, E.L. Cord's empire was crumbling as the Great Depression continued damaging the industry.

The Cord 810 was known as the 'baby Duesenberg' and given the label 'Cord' due to the front-wheel drive system, which gave it the low stance its silhouette required. In a short fifteen-week period, examples had been built in time for the November auto show circuit. The 'coffin nose' styling was penned by Gordon M. Buehrig and its overall stance was sleek and low-slung. The L-29's straight-8 Lycoming V8 (289 cubic inches) offered 125 horsepower and was paired with a four-speed electrically selected semi-automatic (pre-selector) transmission.

The Cord L-29 was introduced at the New York Auto Show in November 1935, and deliveries were anticipated in February 1936; due to production delays, the first cars arrived in April. Initial production estimates of 1,000 per month were very optimistic, as just 1,174 of the new 810 were sold in its first model year. Examples left unsold in 1936 were re-numbered and sold as 1937 812s.

The engine powering the Cord 812 models of 1937 continued to be the 125 hp V8, though a supercharger did become available, increasing horsepower to 170. Production of the Cord ended in 1937, and a single prototype was built in 1938.

In 1936, E.L. Cord was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for his dealings in Checker Cab stock. In 1937, he sold his Cord empire to the Aviation Corporation and retired to Los Angeles, moving to Nevada in the 1940s.


by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006

Related Reading : Cord L-29 History

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 driving was too much. With the rear-wheel drive systems, the weight could be dispersed throughout the body to take advantage of weight distribution.....
Continue Reading >>

1929 Cord L-29 Vehicle Profiles

1929 Cord L-29 vehicle information
Cabriolet

Designer: Harry Miller
Chassis #: 2925603
1929 Cord L-29 vehicle information
Cabriolet

Designer: Harry Miller
1929 Cord L-29 vehicle information
Cabriolet

Designer: Harry Miller
1929 Cord L-29 vehicle information
Cabriolet

Designer: Harry Miller
Engine #: FDA 1282
1929 Cord L-29 vehicle information
Cabriolet

Designer: Harry Miller
1929 Cord L-29 vehicle information
Cabriolet

Designer: Harry Miller
1929 Cord L-29 vehicle information
Cabriolet

Designer: Harry Miller
1929 Cord L-29 vehicle information
Town Car

Coachwork: d'Leteren Freres
Chassis #: 2926758
Engine #: FD1395

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$455-$3,095
1929 L-29
$3,295-$16,000
1929 Cord L-29 Price Range: $3,095 - $3,295

Compare: Lower | Higher | Similar

L-29

Specification Comparison by Year

Year
Production
Wheelbase
Engine
Prices
1,819
137.50 in.
8 cyl., 289.60 CID., 125.00hp
$3,095 - $3,295
137.50 in.
8 cyl., 298.28 CID., 120.00hp
8 cyl., 298.28 CID., 125.00hp
$2,590 - $3,000
1,243
137.50 in.
8 cyl., 298.60 CID., 125.00hp
$2,425 - $2,615

Related Automotive News

1899 To 2019: Škoda Celebrates 120 Years Of Engine Development And Production In Mladá Boleslav

1899 To 2019: Škoda Celebrates 120 Years Of Engine Development And Production In Mladá Boleslav

120 years of ŠKODA engine expertise a portfolio that includes the first Central European eight-cylinder in-line engine (1907), aluminium engine blocks in the litre class (1964) and modern MPI units Around 20 per cent of all engines used globally w...
VOLKSWAGEN GTI ROADSTER MAKES NORTH AMERICAN DEBUT AT THE LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW

VOLKSWAGEN GTI ROADSTER MAKES NORTH AMERICAN DEBUT AT THE LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW

Spectacular concept car blurs the boundaries between the virtual and real worlds HerndonLos Angeles — Volkswagen will show the spectacular GTI Roadster concept car in North America for the first time at the Los Angeles International Au...
RM Auctions Amelia Island Preview - 2014

RM Auctions Amelia Island Preview - 2014

0 RM Auctions, the worlds largest auction house for investment-quality automobiles, will hold its Amelia Island, Florida, sale on March 8th at the Ritz-Carlton. As the official auction house of the Amelia Island Concours dElegance, RMs...
Gooding & Company Amelia Island Auction Preview

Gooding & Company Amelia Island Auction Preview

Gooding %26 Company, the auction house acclaimed for selling the worlds most significant and valuable collector cars, will hold its annual Amelia Island Auction on Friday, March 7 on the Omni Amelia Island Plantation. David Gooding, President and founder...
63rd Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Names 1934 Packard  'Best of Show'

63rd Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Names 1934 Packard 'Best of Show'

The competition showcased 248 cars, including 48 from abroad PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (August 18, 2013) -- A 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria owned by Joseph and Margie Cassini III of West Orange, New Jersey, was named Best...

Cord Model

Vehicle information, history, and specifications from concept to production.