Greg's List: Cord Phaeton
By Greg Warner
The "Cord" Corporation, was founded in 1929 by Mr. Errett Lobban Cord (or E.L. Cord to most people), as a holding company for the many companies (over 150 total) which were under his control at the time. These companies included the likes of the Auburn Automobile Company (which also produced the Cord line of automobiles), Duesenberg Inc., Lycoming Engines, Checker Motors Corp. (makers of the famous "Checker Cab"), the Stinson Aircraft Co., New York Shipbuilding Corp. and American Airways (which would become American Airlines). The 1937 "Cord" model 812 was a medium-priced, but high-end vehicle (even in it's day) and the first American automobile to have front-wheel drive along with independent front suspension! Lacking the usual transmission "hump" and driveshaft "tunnel", running lengthwise through the center of the vehicle, meant that the new "Cord" model 810's (1936 models w/o supercharger) and 812's (1937 models with or w/o optional supercharger) were low enough to eliminate the need for running boards which were commonly used to aid in entry to the vehicle. Also, innovative at the time, was the use of a unitized-body construction for strength and rigidity, which aided overall in reducing weight and increasing performance.
The unique design of the 1937 "Cord" model 812, which is iconic to this day, was the brainchild of Gordon M. Buehrig, (also famous for his work at Auburn Automobile Co. and heavily involved in the design/production of the famous 1935 model "851 Boattail Speedster", some of which, may have been influenced by the brilliant, but short-lived designer, Alan Leamy). Mr. Buehrig and his team of designers and engineers went to work on designing a vehicle that was different than the norm-of-the-day in many ways. Some examples of these differences are the "hidden" door hinges, front opening hood (hinged at the rear) for easier access, "hide-away" headlamps operated by dash-mounted hand cranks and a concealed fuel-access cover on the right rear body panel. The "coffin-nosed" front end and "louvered", wrap-around grille design were exclusive touches which, without a doubt, informed you it was a "Cord" automobile coming your way. The 1937 "Cord" model 812 came with an optional Schwitzer-Cummings centrifugal "Supercharger" (with 6 psi of "boost") mounted to a Lycoming V-8 of 288.6 c.i., which produced somewhere in the range of 170-195hp (depending on tuning) and sported the large, tell-tale, highly-polished and corrugated exhaust tubing exiting from the engine compartment and into the top of the voluptuous, front, "pontoon" styled fenders. This powerful engine was connected to the forward-mounted, four-speed transmission, which was activated by an electronically controlled, vacuum-servo, operated by a gear-selector lever mounted on the steering column. Hydraulically actuated drum brakes all around and a pistol-grip handbrake lever under the left side of the dashboard actuated the parking brake, while leaving the floor of the vehicle uncluttered.
The 1937 "Cord" model 812 sported some pretty cool creature comforts for the era including variable-speed windshield-wipers (most vehicles still hand hand-operated wipers, if any at all), an AM radio (which would not be available, as standard, on most vehicles until the 1950's), a horn button located in the center of the steering wheel (which was also a "first" in the industry and most other manufacturers would later adopt this style) and a beautiful, engine-turned dashboard with full instrumentation including a tachometer, an "oil-level" gauge and switches galore! The convertible top could be collapsed and completely hidden from view inside the rear deck area which added to the increased interior compartment size which easily seated five people. The new "Cord" model 810/812 prototype made it's debut at the New York Auto show in 1935 to rave reviews due to the sleek styling and ravishing great looks alone, people were climbing on top of each other and anything else they could find (other vehicles, for instance) just to get a glimpse of it! Unfortunately, the great depression would signal the end of Mr. Cords' "automotive empire" in 1937, but what he contributed to the automotive industry, in a few short years, was pure genius and his ideas and designs were of legendary proportion!
Please check out this fine, rare example of a 1937 Cord model 812 Phaeton (one of only some 2,900 total "Cord" vehicles produced in 1936 and 1937, and fewer than 200 were produced with a Supercharger) offered by The Car Experience of Toronto, ONT, Canada. For more information on this specific vehicle, feel free to contact them at 1-705-726-7399. Also make sure you check out the other fine Cord automobiles offered on Classiccars.com and the thousands of other makes and models of vehicles we have to offer as well.
Thanks again for reading, keep the rubber on the road and have a smile every mile you go!
Quiz-O-Da-Week: After a number of strikes had interrupted the production at General Motors Corp., what organization were they forced to recognize?
Answer: The UAW (United Auto Workers Union)
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