1937 Cord 812 Custom Beverly Sedan

The highly advanced Cord 810/812 was born during the turbulent economic times of the mid-1930s. As many prestigious automakers experienced plummeting sales, some turned to mid-priced companion lines in hopes of bolstering lagging sales of their high-end offerings. Cadillac, in particular, found success with the LaSalle range, and even Packard offered entry-level models at various times through the 1930s. As the Great Depression wore on, the few remaining buyers with the means to purchase extravagant cars were reluctant to flaunt their wealth. Even the once-mighty Duesenberg was not immune, as ever fewer orders filled the books. Eager to attract new clients and cash in on the prestige of the Duesenberg name, Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg chief E.L. Cord suggested a “baby Duesenberg” could compete in the increasingly busy mid-priced luxury car market. Development began based on sketches by Gordon Buehrig, but the board balked and abandoned the project out of fear that it would cheapen the illustrious Duesenberg name.

The project got a second wind when the sole prototype was driven by Buehrig and Denny Duesenberg (Fred’s son) back to the Auburn factory in Auburn, Indiana. Initially, managers hoped the car could revitalize the floundering Auburn, but they scrapped that idea, and the vehicle instead became the basis for the revival of the Cord brand. Inspiration for the mechanical specification came from Citroen’s brilliant Traction Avant, and it featured a semi-monocoque chassis, V8 engine, front-wheel drive, a pre-selector gearbox, and independent front suspension. In place of the traditional radiator grille, Buehrig and his team of designers devised a series of wrap-around louvers and a distinct coffin-shaped hood. Rounded fenders with retractable headlamps – an industry-first – flanked the radiator. Thanks to the front-wheel-drive layout, the body sat so low on the chassis that running boards became unnecessary, so the doors extended down for a clean, minimalist look. Over eight decades since its sensational debut, the Cord 810/812 remains one of the most beautiful and iconic American automobiles, cherished by enthusiasts, collectors, and connoisseurs of exceptional design.

This 1937 Cord 812 is a rare and desirable Custom Beverly, riding on the extended 132-inch wheelbase chassis. Coming from long-term stewardship by active Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club and CCCA members, this 812 wears an older restoration in the attractive combination of black over a burgundy interior and benefits from some recent freshening. This car is designated by the CCCA as a Full Classic and is a former National First Prize winner in club concours events. The elegant black paint suits the extended wheelbase body, lending a sophisticated, almost sinister presence. The paintwork is quite attractive overall, with good bodywork and detailing consistent with the high quality restoration. Chrome and brightwork are in similarly good condition all around, with fittings and accessories including amber Cord fog lights, correct chrome wheel covers, and wide whitewall tires. According to marque expert Josh Malks’s seminal book “The Cord Complete,” the company produced approximately 2,900 cars in total over the brief two-year production run. Of those, Malks estimates just 229 came equipped as Custom Beverly sedans, denoted by the C-105 body number. Aside from the body number, the 8-louver grille is a quick way to identify this as a factory Custom model, while the serial numbers confirm it as a very late production example.

The additional wheelbase allows for a spacious and comfortable interior with luxurious accommodations for five passengers. Rich maroon fabric upholstery covers the seats, door panels, and headlining, with charcoal carpets and piping providing an eye-catching contrast. The chrome trim and interior handles are in good condition, with some minor pitting consistent with the well-preserved nature of the restoration. Restored gauges set into the trademark engine-turned alloy instrument panel, with the painted steel dash presenting in good order aside from some minor scuffs in the finish. Options include a period correct Philco radio and fold-down armrests in the front and rear.

As with every Cord 810/812, power comes from the 288 cubic-inch Lycoming V8 engine, designed specifically for this model. It pairs with a four-speed pre-select gearbox, operated via the delicate H-pattern selector on the steering column. Under-hood presentation is quite respectable overall and appropriately tidy for a car that has been used and enjoyed since its restoration. It benefits from recent servicing and presents with mostly period-appropriate hardware, wiring, and plumbing. According to the serial number, this car was born with a Schwitzer-Cummins supercharger, however the engine it wears today is a non-blown version. Engine swaps of this nature are quite common with Cords, and the non-blown means generally more reliable running.

Elegant and luxurious, this Cord 812 Custom Beverly benefits from years of care in the hands of dedicated enthusiasts, and it is now suitably mellowed and ready for enjoyment out on the road with the ACD Club, CCCA, or other enthusiast groups.


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