In the mid 1920’s, the Indianapolis based Auburn company was facing the end of the road. After achieving early success, Auburn was struggling with public perception of a dull lineup, and slow sales meant a backlog of unsold inventory. With bankruptcy on the horizon, the board called upon the services of one E.L. Cord as a last ditch effort to save the company. Cord was an entrepreneur who had made quite a name for himself at Auburn as their most successful salesman by far.
Cord’s simple solution, repainting the unsold cars in bright colors, was a surprising success and as a reward he was offered a managerial position at Auburn. But E.L. Cord rejected the offer and instead initiated a takeover of the company. By1928, Cord was in complete control of Auburn, and had amassed an empire that included Auburn, Duesenberg, Lycoming Engines, Checker, Stinson Aircraft and American Airways. Now that he had saved Auburn, he set his sights on building a car that would bear his own name.
In 1929 the Cord L-29 debuted. It was an innovative and gorgeous car, with wheel drive and a De Dion front axle, low slung body with flat floors and particularly sporting appeal. The L-29 was powered by the same 301 cubic inch Lycoming straight eight as Auburn, though the unit was turned 180 degrees in the chassis, powering the front wheels through a three-speed manual transmission. Handling was excellent for such a large car, thanks to its very low center of gravity – made possible by the lack of a transmission tunnel, allowing Cord to mount the body very low on the chassis. The finest coachbuilders of the day were eager to take advantage of the L-29’s unique chassis resulting in some of the most stunning cars of the period. Only 5,014 L-29s left the factory between 1929 and 1932, before economic conditions halted demand for such extravagant machines.
This highly desirable 1931 L-29 Cabriolet is a fully restored example presented in breathtaking royal blue with silver accents on the body and chassis. Freshly restored and only shown twice since completion, it is simply magnificent inside and out. Paint finishes and panel fit are outstanding while color combination is perfectly judged for the sporty coachwork. The chrome trim and brightwork are virtually flawless, with high quality detailing from top to bottom. The folding cabriolet top has been fully refurbished with restored wood, polished stainless steel hardware and covered in dark blue canvas. Inside, the finely crafted driver’s compartment is cozy but opulently trimmed in beautiful indigo blue leather. Cord L-29’s had a rather unconventional but stylish dash design, with an integrated shift lever and comprehensive instrumentation, all of which have been restored to a high standard. Of course the interior chrome trim is as exquisite as that on the exterior. While there is only be room for two up front, there’s a generous rumble seat with matching indigo upholstery as well as a golf bag door on the passenger side, perfect for taking your extravagant L-29 to the country club. A large, fully restored and color matched trunk sits out back for the times your extra guest brings extra gear.
Under the long hood you’ll find the proven Lycoming Straight-8. Given the level of restoration on the body, it is no surprise the engine compartment is equally as exquisite. It is beautifully presented with correct paint colors, metal finishes and period correct lacquer wiring. The level of quality is simply outstanding. The chassis and suspension have been refinished to the same high standard of quality as the body, and the car looks nearly as good underneath as it does up top.
Fine detailing sets this example apart from others, with the blue and silver body colors accented with a perfectly judged red coach stripe. The fantastic wire wheels are correctly restored with silver painted hubs and spokes, but finished off with chrome trim rings and knock-offs, giving an aggressively sporting look. It is well detailed with dual side mounts with attached mirrors, gorgeous split bumpers and the proper color-keyed radiator shell, all of which add up to give this L-29 a magnificent appearance. Few cars of the period can match the L-29 for its sheer presence, and this stunning example is most certainly no exception. Please note the car is titled as a 1933.
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