In early, 1924 E.L. Cord, a highly successful car salesman and entrepreneur, was called upon to try and save the dying Auburn Automobile Company. Cord took the reins of the company, and came up with a simple, cost effective solution to sell a glut of leftover cars. His plan worked and provided Auburn with enough capital to continue in business, saved from certain bankruptcy. But E.L. Cord was an extremely ambitious and aggressive business man and by1928, he was in complete control of Auburn. He also amassed an impressive manufacturing empire that included Auburn, Lycoming Engines, Checker Cab, Duesenberg, Stinson Aircraft and New York Shipbuilders, among others. Having re-established Auburn as a successful car builder, he decided to build a car worthy of his own name – one that would compete with the likes of Lincoln, Packard and Stutz for luxury car honors. In typical E.L. Cord fashion, he eschewed tradition and specified a car that was as innovative as it was beautiful. The L-29, as it became known, was sleek, attractive and impossibly low slung for the time, thanks to its front wheel drive and a De Dion front axle arrangement, designed by an ex-Miller Indy Car engineer who spearheaded the project. The L-29 still stands out to this day with its long hood accentuated by a painted radiator shell and long sweeping fenders. It was the very first front wheel drive American car, beating the lesser known Ruxton to the market by mere months. The L-29 shared the 301 cubic inch Lycoming straight eight with Auburn, but with the crank and flywheel mounted at the front, driving through a three-speed transmission. The forward mounted transmission meant no tunnel was needed, and the body could be mounted low in the chassis, with a flat floor for additional passenger comfort. Performance was adequate, and thanks to the low center of gravity, handling was impressive. Some of the finest coachbuilders of the era graced the L-29 chassis with their creations, eager to take advantage of the low slung lines. Only 5,014 L-29s were sold between 1929 and 1932, as the Great Depression took its toll on luxury car makers.
This beautiful 1931 L-29 Convertible Phaeton Sedan has been documented by L-29 historian Paul Bryant as the 4,771st L-29 built. As a late 1931 production model, it was equipped with the desirable “FF” engine, which was a bored-out 322-cubic-inch unit that was stronger than earlier versions, and thanks to the bigger bore and more efficient exhaust manifolds, thought to produce more horsepower as well.
The known history of chassis number 2930071 traces back to the 1950’s when it was owned by a Karl E. Qeuilzsch, of Dallastown, Pennsylvania, a noted ACD enthusiast. In 1960, he passed the car on to J.A. Luttrell of East Lansing, Michigan who commissioned a restoration by Dave Ten Brink, which earned the car a coveted 100 point score and CCCA National Award. The car then passed into the hands of Shirlee Lester, wife of Tom Lester of Lester Tires. Shirlee regularly showed the car and competed in various concours d’elegance. In 1984 it traded hands again, this time going to Bobbie Crump of New Orleans, LA where it was displayed in his well-known museum before finally winding up with its most recent owner in the Midwest.
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