1937 Cord 812 SC Phaeton

Gordon Buehrig’s groundbreaking Cord 810/812 started life as a proposal for a “baby Duesenberg” envisioned to support E.L. Cord’s flagship brand into the late 1930s. But as the faltering economy led to Duesenberg’s untimely demise, Buehrig recycled the concept to revive the Cord marque, which had not produced a vehicle since the L-29 of 1932. The Cord 810 and 812 pushed the boundaries of automotive design, employing semi-monocoque construction, front-wheel drive, an electro-magnetic pre-select gearbox, and later, an optional supercharged engine. Yet, with all of that technical wizardry, the styling made the most significant impact. The unconventional yet striking form eschewed contemporary norms such as external running boards and flashy upright chrome radiator shells. Buehrig’s advanced streamline design featured curvaceous aerodynamic fenders with hideaway headlights, slab-sided bodywork, full-length doors that concealed the running boards, and a distinct coffin-shaped hood with wraparound air intake slats in place of the traditional radiator grille. It is widely recognized as one of the most innovative works in industrial design history, a piece of automotive art treasured by car collectors and design aficionados worldwide.

Cord offered the 810/812 in various body styles to suit the individual buyer’s wishes. Four-door models consisted of the Beverly and Westchester sedans, with more luxurious long-wheelbase versions arriving in 1937. Glamorous open two-door models were also offered – the four-seat Convertible Phaeton Sedan and the two-seat Cabriolet, each with sophisticated disappearing top designs. The Convertible Phaeton Sedan is one of the most popular models with collectors, as it blends the sporty open-air experience with four-passenger practicality and comfort.

This 1937 812 SC Convertible Phaeton Sedan has well-known long-term ownership history dating back to the mid-1940s. It is one of few known factory-supercharged examples retaining its original, numbers-matching engine. Mr. Charles S. Merrow of Amesbury, Massachusetts, and later Seattle, Washington, owned this Cord from approximately the mid-1940s. A substantial stack of correspondence between Mr. Merrow and the ACD factory documents his ownership. As a tooling engineer, Merrow was a hands-on owner, and records show he rebuilt the engine himself in the 1950s. ACD Club directories and postmarked envelopes from the period show he owned it through at least the late-1960s, if not into the late 1970s.

By the 1990s, the 812 was still in the Pacific Northwest, then in the care of the enthusiastic collector, Mr. Bud Melby. Bud and his wife were avid competitors in events like The Great American Race, and they ran the grueling event no fewer than six times in this Cord. They prepared the car for the rigors of competitive rallying and restored it in its current eye-catching yellow over burgundy upholstery and accents. More recently, the cosmetics have been refreshed, and the car now presents exceptionally well with attractive paintwork, chrome, and period-correct detailing. Exterior details include the optional crest hood ornament, driver’s searchlight, and the distinctive exposed exhaust flex pipes that announce this as a supercharged model. Rolling stock consists of proper Cord steel wheels with chrome covers and ribbed whitewall tires. The cabin features appealing burgundy leather trim that is very good overall, with some moderate creasing from regular enjoyment. Matching door panels and carpets are in similarly fine order. The dash features a full array of original instruments, and all switches and controls are correct. Topping it all off (quite literally) is a black canvas roof piped in burgundy trim.

Beneath the hood sits the original centrifugal-supercharged, 289 cubic-inch L-Head Lycoming V8. The engine bay is honest and orderly, with some minor accommodations for reliable rally use, including modern-type hose clamps and a Delco alternator.

As a supercharged Convertible Phaeton with a numbers-matching engine, this 812 SC ticks all the boxes for desirability. It is an honest, well-proven example that’s ideally fit for regular driving pleasure, and as a CCCA Full Classic®, it is eligible for a wide range of events, including CARavan Tours. This Cord 812 SC is a fine example of Buehrig’s masterpiece and represents an excellent opportunity to add this iconic American car to your stable.


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