1937 Cord 812 Phaeton

The iconic Cord 810/812 started life as a “baby Duesenberg” envisioned by designer Gordon Buehrig to support E.L. Cord’s flagship brand into the late 1930s. But as the faltering economy led to Duesenberg’s untimely demise, E.L. Cord recycled the concept to revive his eponymous car company, which had not produced a car 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 that technical wizardry, the styling made the most significant impact. The unconventional yet striking shape eschewed contemporary norms such as running boards and flashy upright chrome radiator shells. Buehrig’s advanced streamline form 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 significant works in industrial design history, a piece of automotive art treasured by car collectors and design aficionados worldwide.

Cord offered several body styles to suit the individual buyer’s wishes. Four-door models consisted of the Beverly and Westchester sedans, and long-wheelbase options followed later in 1937. Two open two-door models were also offered – the four-seat Convertible Phaeton Sedan and the two-seat Cabriolet, both featuring sophisticated disappearing top designs. The Convertible Phaeton Sedan is one of the most popular models with collectors, as it blends the sporty open-cockpit design with the four-passenger practicality and comfort.

This 812 Convertible Phaeton Sedan is an ACD Category 1 certified example that is the recipient of ACD Primary and Senior Awards as well as a CCCA Senior Award winner. Presented in an attractive livery of Cigarette Cream over dark tan leather upholstery, it features a well-maintained older restoration that has mellowed nicely over the years.

There are two kinds of Cord 810/812 owners, those who cherish them as important objects of mid-century design and engineering and those who take them out on the road, drive them and appreciate their driving characteristics and the effect that seeing them has on onlookers. This 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton is one of the latter, having had just two owners in the last 35 years. It was owned for 25 years by a collector in Indiana who drove it to Auburn, Indiana for years to participate in the ACD Festival, and maintained the car consistently in excellent running, driving, and shifting condition. Since 2013 the Cord Phaeton has been maintained as part of a private collection of important classic-era automobiles in Washington state and has participated in the Pebble Beach Motoring Classic, a 1500-mile tour along the coast of the Pacific Northwest on its way to the ultimate auto destination—the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The attractive Cigarette Cream paintwork is correct for the period and the color itself is the correct light cream shade as used by the factory in the 1930s, and not the brighter yellow that is often represented as cigarette cream on other restorations. The body is in excellent order, and the car has been updated with external exhaust pipes to mirror the sporty look of the S/C models. Accessories and upgrades include Cord branded fog lights, radio, a stainless-steel exhaust, turn signals for modern driving safety with the switch unobtrusively tucked under the dashboard and an auxiliary cooling fan, while rolling stock consists of body-color steel wheels wearing correct chrome wheel covers and wide whitewall tires. Exterior brightwork all presents very well, with even, consistent plating all around.

Inside, dark tan leather upholstery covers the seats and door panels, accented by attractive brown carpets. The cabin is accurately restored with patterns and materials that are true to original specs. The seats display just the slightest signs of use in the leather, which has taken on a charming character in the 30 years since the restoration. Occupants are kept dry by a tan canvas convertible top, which disappears beneath body-color panels when stowed. Like all 812s, a particular highlight is the aircraft-inspired dash panel, with its full array of instruments set into an engine-turned alloy panel. Controls and switches continue the aviation-like theme, with major controls falling quickly to the driver’s hand, including the delightfully tactile transmission gear selector.

Raising the signature “coffin nose” hood reveals a tidy and well-detailed 289 cubic-inch Lycoming V8 engine. Period-correct hardware and fittings are consistent with this car’s detailed restoration and long history of attentive care. Power from the V8 goes through the correct style electromagnetic pre-selector 4-speed transaxle, which drives the front wheels.

Cord’s 810/812 is a legendary, groundbreaking automobile and one of the defining landmarks of the Classic Era. This fine example lives up to the legend, with exquisite styling and advanced underpinnings working in harmony to create a wholly unique motoring experience, best enjoyed on CCCA CARavans or similar touring events.


Offers welcome and trades considered 



Stock number 7652

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