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Cord 812 Beverly Saloon 1937

Model History

The Cord 810, and later the Cord 812, was a very luxurious automobile produced by the Cord Automobile division of the Auburn Automobile Company. Production took place between 1936 and 1937, and it was to be the first American-designed and built front wheel drive car with independent front suspension. It followed the trend of the 1934 Citroën Traction Avant and the Cord L-29, both of which also had front wheel drive. Both models were also the first to offer hidden headlights.

The styling of the Cord 810 was the work of designer Gordon M. Buehrig and his team of stylists, which included young Vince Gardner and Alex Tremulis. While it was the first American front-wheel-drive car with independent front suspension, it had an archaic tube rear axle with semi-elliptic rear springs. Power came from a 4,739 cc Lycoming V8, of the same 125 hp as the L-29. The semi-automatic four-speed transmission (three plus overdrive) extended in front of the engine, like on a Traction Avant. This allowed Buehrig to dispense with the driveshaft and transmission tunnel; as a result, the new car was so low it required no running boards.

Reportedly conceived as a Duesenberg and nearly devoid of chrome, the 810 and 812 had hidden door hinges and rear-hinged hood, rather than the side-opening type more usual at the time, both new items. It featured pontoon fenders with hidden headlamps (modified Stinson aircraft landing lights) (E. L. Cord owned a majority of Stinson stock) that disappeared into the fenders via dashboard hand cranks. This car was first and one of the few ever to include this feature.

It also featured a concealed fuel filler door and variable-speed windshield wipers (at a time when wipers were often operated by intake vacuum, and so tended to stop when the driver stepped on the gas pedal). Its engine-turned dashboard included complete instrumentation, a tachometer, and standard radio, which would not become an industry standard offering until well into the 1950s. The most famous feature was the 'coffin nose', a louvered wraparound grille, from which its nickname derived, a product of Buehrig's desire not to have a conventional grille.

The car caused a sensation at its debut at the New York Auto Show in November 1935. The crowds were so dense, attendees stood on the bumpers of nearby cars to get a look. Cord had rushed to build the 100 cars needed to qualify for the show, and the transmission was not ready. Even so, Cord took many orders at the show, promising Christmas delivery, expecting production of 1,000 per month, but the semi-automatic transmission was more troublesome than expected, and 25 December came and went with no cars built. The first production cars were not ready to deliver until February, and did not reach New York City until April 1936. In all, Cord managed to sell only 1,174 of the new 810 in its first model year, as the result of mechanical troubles.

Supercharging was made available on the 1937 812 model, with a mechanically driven Schwitzer-Cummins unit. Supercharged 812 models were distinguished from the normally aspirated 812s by the chrome-plated external exhaust pipes mounted on each side of the hood and grill. With supercharging, horsepower was raised to 170.

This Example

The Cord shown here is a beautiful example of a rare 812 Beverly Saloon. It has received a full mechanical restoration costing 160.000,- Euro and is now in superb condition.
The car was imported from New York to Prague where the current caretaker bought this rare car in 2010. Although the car presented very well cosmetically he wanted the car to perform as perfect as possible. And being such a complex car with front wheel drive and a very special gearbox, mechanically not many people go to great lengths to finish it as intended.

He started a mechanical restoration without regard to expense and a total of €160.000,- of invoices is on file for; engine, gearbox, suspension, brakes and new original style wheels, tyres, electrical system, etc. The result is a stunning car which is fabulous and easy to drive!

Since this exhaustive mechanical restoration the car is on the button and has been driven faultlessly all over Europe! In 2018 the car was entered in the Concours d’Elegance Paleis het Loo and Alex being one of the judges admired the car with its appealing design. It was awarded with the Young designers award and a huge cup accompanies the car. Now the owner has another pre-war project which acquires his attention and so the car is now for sale.

This stunning motorcar not only looks fantastic and is in a very nice condition but also drives very well and easy and is amazing to use. So quick!

The car comes with a big restoration file and service records, a FIVA passport and Dutch registration.

Price is Euro 149.500,-

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