The Short History of the Cord Automobile

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The Cord automobile was one of the most innovative and original cars build its Era. Cord was the brand name of the vehicle manufactured by Auburn Automobile Company between 1929 and 1932, and 1938 and 1937. The company reached its most inventive peak with the Cord’s streamlined design and state of the art technology. The founder E. L Cord had a philosophy to build different ingenious cars that would turn a larger profit than traditional vehicles. However, this did not work in practice and after building some of the most beautiful cars in the world, the Cord Automobile files for bankruptcy in 1937 because of the Depression.

Cord’s secret
At the age of 30, Cord came to Auburn to save the troubled company owned by a group of investors from Chicago. He managed to turn Auburn Automobile Company around because he looked for the right niche. When he realized that he cannot compete with the automaking giants, Chrysler, General Motors and Ford, he built Cord L-29 and the Cord 810/812 to be different. Cord was inspired by the 1925 Indianapolis 500 race where a Harry Miller front-wheel-drive car came second. The key was creating a car with better handling, less wind resistance and lower height.

The 1929 line
Cord bought the manufacturing rights of the Harry Miller designs in 1927 and soon he developed a prototype powered by a Lycoming straight-eight engine. Because he wanted the design to match the technological innovations, Cord asked Alan H. Leamy to create the body. The result was a masterpiece of proportion and grace. Cord Automobile released 4 models in 1929: a brougham, sedan, phaeton and cabriolet with a price ranging from $3,095 to $3,295.

The market crash
Sales were brisk, but after the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, thing changed overnight. Most potential buyers became financially obliterated and those left with wealth were reticent of buying a new, unusual, unproven expensive car. Although the price was lowered, sales never took off and in 1931, production for the Cord automobile ceased. In 1932, the company lost $1 million, so company executives decided to create a car that would appeal to a wider audience.

The breathtaking Cord Model 810
Designer Gordon Buehrig was seduced from General Motors to work on the new model. Although the prototype was a regular rear-wheel-drive car, it evolved into a technically advanced Cord automobile with front-wheel drive, independent front suspension and a V-8 engine. To match the high performance car, Buehrig created an original and timeless body design. The result was the Cord Model 810 available in three styles: convertible coupe, four-door sedan and phaeton. The breathtaking Cord automobile was a success at the New York show and many orders were placed.

An unfortunate mistake
Although the company promised delivery by December 1935, production was delayed until February 1936 because of assembly problems. Many orders were withdrawn and those who waited received a car with mechanical problems, such as noisy U-joints, recalcitrant transmission shifting mechanism and overheating engines. The Cord automobile achieved a reputation as a problematic car, and despite the fact that the problems were worked out, it was too late. The incredible Cord never made a profit and the company filed for bankruptcy in December 1937, with only 3,000 cars produced.

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