1931

1931 Cord L-29

Vehicle Profiles

Phaeton Sedan

Chassis Num: 2930071
Engine Num: FF 4998

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.....[continue reading]

Prototype Speedster
Coachwork: LaGrande

Chassis Num: 2927156
Engine Num: FD2687

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 moder....[continue reading]

Sedan

The low-slung Cord L-29 featured styling courtesy of the legendary Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, a young Russian nobleman who took up auto styling in the 1920s, winning five Grand Prix prizes at the Monte Carlo Concours d'Elegance. The L-29 Cord was h....[continue reading]

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....[continue reading]

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 Phi....[continue reading]

Rumble Seat Cabriolet

Chassis Num: 2930061

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....[continue reading]

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 dr....[continue reading]

Rumble Seat Cabriolet

Chassis Num: 2929040
Engine Num: FD3696A
Vin Num: F-117

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....[continue reading]

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.....[continue reading]

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 fea....[continue reading]

Rumble Seat Cabriolet

Chassis Num: 2929245
Engine Num: FD 4046

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....[continue reading]

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 Millerto....[continue reading]

Cabriolet
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.....[continue reading]

Cabriolet
Coachwork: Limousine Body Mfg. Co.

Chassis Num: 3916
Engine Num: FD 4023

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 ....[continue reading]

Phaeton Sedan
Chassis #: 2930071 
Prototype Speedster by LaGrande
Chassis #: 2927156 
Sedan
 
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
 
Prototype Speedster by LaGrande
 
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
Chassis #: 2930061 
Phaeton Sedan
 
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
Chassis #: 2929040 
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
 
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
 
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
Chassis #: 2929245 
Rumble Seat Cabriolet
 
Cabriolet by Limousine Body Mfg. Co.
 
Cabriolet by Limousine Body Mfg. Co.
Chassis #: 3916 

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 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
1931
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