E.L. Cord's fast rise and eventual collapse of his massive industrial empire remain as one of corporate America's most fascinating and tragic stories. Effective marketing was responsible for the rapid turnaround of Aburn in the mid-1920s, and continued increases in sales were attributed to innovation, styling, and value-rich products.
E.L. Cord's Auburn, Cord, 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.
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 in 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 a variety of 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 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.
by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006
Related Reading : Cord L-29 History
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1929 Cord L-29
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1929 Vehicle Profiles
Recent Vehicle Additions
|1934||Ford (563,921)||Brewster (563,921)||Chevrolet (551,191)|
|1933||Chevrolet (486,261)||Ford (334,969)||Plymouth (298,557)|
|1932||Chevrolet (313,404)||Ford (210,824)||Miller (210,824)||58|
|1931||Chevrolet (619,554)||Ford (615,455)||Buick (138,965)||1,243|
|1930||Ford (1,140,710)||Chevrolet (640,980)||Buick (181,743)||1,873|
|1929||Ford (1,507,132)||Chevrolet (1,328,605)||Buick (196,104)||1,819|
|1928||Chevrolet (1,193,212)||Ford (607,592)||Willys Knight (231,360)|
|1927||Chevrolet (1,001,820)||Ford (367,213)||Buick (255,160)|
|1926||Ford (1,669,847)||Chevrolet (547,724)||Buick (266,753)|
|1925||Ford (1,669,847)||Chevrolet (306,479)||Dodge (201,000)|
|1924||Ford (1,922,048)||Chevrolet (264,868)||Dodge (193,861)|