1937 Cord 812 S/C Cabriolet 'Sportsman'
Registration no. SRU 407R
Chassis no. 32226F
*One of the most iconic American cars of the 1930s
*Rare and desirable supercharged variant
*Previous ownership for 39 years
One of the few automobiles deemed worthy of inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and arguably the most easily recognised American car of all time, the Cord 810 debuted in November 1935, receiving a rapturous reception at US automobile shows. The work of a team headed by Duesenberg designer Gordon Buehrig, the 810 body style with louvred 'coffin' nose, streamlined, spat-shaped wings, and absence of running boards would prove immensely influential, its distinctive features being borrowed by most mainstream manufacturers by the decade's end.
The 810's arrival marked the end of a hiatus in Cord production, its predecessor - the L29 - having disappeared in 1931. Errett Lobban Cord had introduced the latter in 1929 as a gap-filling model priced between his Cord Corporation's Auburn and Duesenberg lines. Powered by a Lycoming straight eight, the Cord L29 featured front wheel drive, a chassis layout then in vogue at Indianapolis. Its front-drive layout made for a low-slung frame, and the freedom this gave coachbuilders meant that the Cord was soon attracting the attention of master craftsmen on both sides of the Atlantic.
A front-wheel-drive car like the L29, the 810 differed from its predecessor by virtue of its more compact Lycoming V8 engine and four-speed, pre-selector gearbox. Set further back in the chassis, the former endowed the 810 with better balance and came with 125bhp in standard trim or 170bhp when supercharged.
The Cord was re-designated '812' for 1937 when custom sedans on a longer wheelbase joined the four-model range, though it is doubtful whether any independent offering ever matched Buehrig's original Beverly fastback sedan for sheer style. Priced competitively in the $2,000-3,000 range, the 810/812 should have been a huge success, though, sadly, this was not to be. The Cord Corporation was in deep financial trouble, and when its proprietor sold up in August 1937, it spelled the end not just for Cord, but for Auburn and Duesenberg as well. At the close, a little fewer than 3,000 810/812s had been made.
This example of a car widely recognised as one of the top ten automotive designs of all time represents the model in its ultimate 812 supercharged configuration. Chassis number '32226F' is listed in Ron Irwin's authoritative work, 'Master Cord List' as a 1937 model built towards the end of 1936. The lady previous owners late husband purchased the Cord in the USA in 1977 and had it shipped to the family home in the UK. As the family was living abroad at that time, only returning for the summer holidays, the Cord's use was restricted mainly to Sunday outings and excursions. Maintained by the same garage for over 20 years, the car has been kept on display for the last decade and seldom used. Recently re-commissioned, it is now running and driving well along with new interior.
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