The Cord 810/812 was originally conceived by designer Gordon Buehrig as a “baby Duesenberg” to support E.L. Cord’s flagship brand into the late 1930s and beyond. But as the faltering economy led to Duesenberg’s untimely demise, E.L. Cord recycled the concept as a way to revive his eponymous car company, which had not produced a car since the last L-29 in 1932. The Cord 810 and 812 pushed the boundaries of technical sophistication with semi-monocoque construction, front-wheel drive, an electro-magnetic pre-select gearbox, and an optional supercharged engine. Yet, with all of that technical wizardry, the styling made the most significant impact. The fascinating, unconventional shape eschewed contemporary norms such as running boards and upright chrome radiator shells. Buehrig’s design featured curvaceous, aerodynamic fenders with hideaway headlights, slab-sided bodywork with hidden running boards, and a distinct coffin-shaped hood with wraparound air intake slats. It is widely recognized as one of the most significant works in industrial design history, treasured by car collectors and design aficionados the world over.
This 1937 Cord 812 is a highly desirable five-passenger Convertible Phaeton model, equipped from new with the optional Schwitzer-Cummins supercharger. This magnificently restored Cord has a well-known history back to the late 1940s and is an Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Certified Category 1 original example. It has been exquisitely maintained since the early 2000s restoration and remains one of the finest of its type available.
The known history began in the late 40s when Harry and Verona Himebaugh of San Antonio, Texas, acquired the 812 from another local enthusiast, Mr. Bill Hopson. Not long after, the Himebaughs sold it to Arnold G. Baker Jr., of Monroe, Louisiana, who enjoyed it on the road during his time in the U.S. Army. Mr. Baker eventually settled in Florida, putting the Cord in storage for nearly three decades. In 1979, Baker sold it to T.E. Reed, the owner of Reed’s Museum of Automobiles, a roadside attraction in Hot Spring, Arkansas. After its time in the museum, the Cord went to Tennessee with two other owners, and all along was well-maintained and kept in mostly original condition.
Finally, in 2003, then-owner Tim Whited entrusted Cole’s Classics & Antique Autos of Nederland, Colorado, to perform a comprehensive, nut-and-bolt restoration to concours standards. The Cord was meticulously stripped down to bare metal and restored in its original colors of Rich Maroon over tan leather upholstery and a tan top. The restorers paid considerable attention to details and accuracy, resulting in one of the finest 812 Phaeton’s we’ve had the pleasure to offer. Particularly striking is this car’s beautifully finished interior. The tan leather is offset by maroon carpets and steering wheel, with a contrasting cream dash. The aircraft-inspired instrument panel is a highlight of any Cord cockpit, with an array of instruments and switches laid out in a central engine-turned inlay.
As confirmed by the ACD Club’s Certification program, this is a genuine supercharged Phaeton. It is noted in Josh Malks’ definitive reference, The Cord Complete, that the engine is a “factory replacement” fitted by the ACD company of Auburn early in the car’s life. The Lycoming-sourced V8 engine is beautifully detailed with authentic fittings, hardware, and details, and it runs well. The L-head V8 feeds the front wheels via a four-speed pre-selector gearbox, operated by the marvelously delicate H-pattern switch.
This Cord 812’s superb condition belies the age of the restoration, owing as much to the meticulous preparation and thorough attention paid to virtually every detail. Since completing the project, the 812 has been lovingly maintained in private collections, and it remains in superb condition, suitable for a wide range of concours or touring events.
Few driving experiences in the realm of Classic Era motoring compare to that of a supercharged Cord 812, and this prime example clearly demonstrates why they are so widely revered.
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