1936 Cord 810 Westchester

At first glance, the Cord 810/812 may not seem like a car born of the Great Depression. But during those anxious years, high end manufacturers were struggling to sell extravagant machines, as even the wealthiest of buyers shied away from flaunting their status quite as openly in public. Many manufacturers resorted to developing lower priced models to make up sales. Packard developed the Junior series, Lincoln added the Zephyr line and GM introduced LaSalle to fit between Buick and Cadillac. Even Duesenberg wasn’t immune to the pressure and work was begun on a “baby” Duesenberg that could help pick up sagging sales. Partially through its development, the baby Duesenberg idea was dropped, as it was thought it could tarnish the illustrious brand. But E.L. Cord, the man in charge of Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg, saw great potential in the design and pressed forward to produce it as an all-new model for his revived Cord brand. The Cord L-29 had been out of production for some time, and E.L. saw this as an opportunity to revive the brand that bore his name.

Development of the new car forged ahead, and the Cord 810/812 was realized by 1936. In spite of its “entry level” roots, technical boundaries were pushed to the limits. Drawing inspiration from the innovative Citroen Traction Avant, Cord designer Gordon Buehrig gave the 810 a semi-monocoque chassis, and it was the first American car with both front wheel drive and independent front suspension. Motivation was courtesy of a Lycoming V8 engine (Lycoming being part of E.L. Cord’s industrial empire) and a solenoid actuated pre-selector transmission. Of course the most distinguishing feature of the 810/812 was its Gordon Buehrig-penned bodywork. The front end featured curvaceous fenders with hidden headlights – a first for any production car. Rather than a traditional radiator shell, the Cord’s radiator was hidden behind a sleek and unorthodox wraparound grille and a uniquely shaped hood, which earned it the nickname “Coffin Nose”. Fully extended doors, no running boards and a sleek, minimally adorned body gave the 810 its distinct appearance. Nearly 80 years later, the Cord 810/812 is still considered to be one of the greatest American car designs in history.

This fine 1936 Cord 810 Westchester Sedan is an Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Certified Category 1 original example of one of the most iconic American automobiles of all time. Coming out of recent long-term ownership, it is a remarkable survivor that has never had, nor has it ever needed, a full restoration. It is finished in Palm Beach Tan, with very good paintwork applied over straight and properly aligned panels with excellent, consistent gaps. During a time when cars were defined by their prominent chrome radiator shells and trim, Gordon Buehrig eschewed the flash in favor of a subtle, measured design with limited chrome adornment. That said, bumpers, wheel covers and door handles provided some subtle flash, all of which appear in very good order on this example. The bumpers, wearing original overriders, are straight and tidy with good quality plating and detail.

The original interior presents in very good order, again, well detailed and tidy though showing well-earned patina from use since installed at the factory in 1936! The maroon upholstery piped in off white complements the Palm Beach Tan body color quite well. The seats, door panels and headlining remain in very good condition with quality trim accented with very good chrome fittings and hardware. Cord’s signature instrument panel is beautifully presented with its aeronautic-style engine-turned fascia and an array of dials keeping the driver informed of underhood matters.

The original numbers-matching Lycoming V8 engine and undercarriage are tidy, appearing sorted and well-maintained. Under the care of its most recent owner, the car received new cylinder heads, a complete transmission rebuild by marque expert Lee Foldenhauer, new water pump and more to ensure the car was fully fit for touring enjoyment. This is a singularly well maintained and preserved example of one of the most important marques and models of the mid-Thirties. It is as nice as it gets without being restored -- which for some sophisticated collectors is even better than a great restoration. The specification and condition of this 810 Westchester should lend it very well to touring, and thanks to the Cord 810/812’s recognition as a CCCA Full Classic, it is eligible for CARavan touring and is well suited to regular enjoyment.


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Stock number 7643

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