Designed by the legendary car designer Gordon Buehrig, the Cord 810 created a sensation when it debuted at the 1935 New York Auto Show. Also known as the Baby Duesenberg, it was Cord's attempt to market a car priced between the Auburn and the Duesenberg. Sadly, Cord's finances couldn't match Buehrig's incredible design and the 810/812 Cord lasted only two years. There were approximately 3,000 Cord 810 and 812s produced over a two year period. With a selling price of around $2,000, Cords could not compete with models from GM and Ford where engineering costs could be spread across a much larger number of cars produced. In 1937, the ACD Automobile Company went out of business, yet another casualty of the Great Depression.
Today, the Museum of Modern Art has named the 810/812 as one of the top ten finest industrial styles of all time. The Gordon Buehrig design is sleek, low, and devoid of running boards, the door hinges and headlights are concealed, the fenders pontoon to surround a wrap-around grill, and the dashboard is in an aircraft style. The mechanics are equally unique with front-wheel drive and a Lycoming 288 cubic-inch 125 horsepower engine.
This particular example initially appeared as the featured 1938 Auburn exhibition car at the big 1938 auto show in eastern Canada. It was sold at the 1938 Canadian show and was subsequently owned by several owners until 1970 when it made its way to Vancouver and then on to the state of Washington. It was acquired by the current owners in Hanford, Washington, and driven East to Wisconsin during snowstorms in November towing a U-Haul trailer loaded with spare parts.
A repair was accomplished after the left front fender was damaged from a run-in with an elk during the cross-country trip. Many accretions (push button doors, etc) were added by various owners, and these have since been removed. Restoration to original specifications commenced in 1971 and was completed in 2010. Lavine Restorations, Inc. in Nappanee, Indiana did the final restoration.
The Cord was owned by Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg. Thus their similarities in vehicle design. These three firms also owned the Lycoming engine manufacturing company. This company supplied the 289 cubic-inch V8 engine that gave this vehicle life. The engine was rated at 125 horsepower, with the supercharger the horsepower increased to 170 bhp. The 125hp engine was capable of 90 miles-per-hour with a zero-to-sixty rating of about 20 seconds. A four-speed pre-selector was used, and the wheels were fitted with drum brakes.
The Gordon Beuhrig design is very classic, clean and inspired by aviation. The hood was called the 'Coffin Nose' look for obvious reasons. The hood, when opened, would open upwards. The windshield was split in the middle and was small in comparison to other vehicles. This was due to the room needed by the massive V8. The front had a chrome bumper and a wrap-around grill. Two lights were attached to the bumper and two retractable lights were hidden in the front wheel covers.
Production began for the Cords in 1936 and sales were steady. However, the company itself was not doing as well. The industry was very tough during that era due to many obstacles such as competition.
In 1937 the car was renamed to the 812 and included a few modifications. The 812S were supercharged and had chromed exhaust pipes attached to the side. It was too little, too late. Production ceased later that year due to company financial problems.
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006