Pack Automotive Museum

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CORD

  In 1924, after achieving much acclaim as an automobile distributor, E.L. Cord was approach by a group of investors who owned a fledgling car company called the Eckhart Carriage Company who manufactured an elaborate vehicle called the Auburn.  Rather than just working for them he persuaded them to sell him the company. Cord delivered on his promises and in 5 short years had increased sales 15 times more than when he began his new venture.
  Cord’s vision of what an automobile should be was a simple one. “Novelty sells”. For example, his Auburns were mechanically ordinary but very unusual when it came to paint schemes and design styles. Teardrop fenders, curvy side panels, low-to-the-ground looks were all part of his philosophy. In 1929 he personally oversaw the intro of the infamous Model J Duesenberg whose combo of performance, size, style and (of course) cost, is still unmatched in American history.  The same year saw E.L.’s most novel car with the unveiling of the Cord L-29.  It was America’s first production car to feature front-wheel drive and allowed the car to drive much lower than all the others.
During that same year (a rather good one for E.L. even though it was not for the rest of the country) he met Gordon Buehrig whom he hired as his chief stylist.  Buehrig, (just 25) had accumulated his design and coachbuilding experience from a number of places but especially from famed GM designer Harley Earl and the newly created Art & Color Section at GM.  With Cord’s designs and Buehrig’s colorful concepts, the two were unbeatable for delivering a unique vehicle one after another after another.
Between 1929 and 1933 Buehrig designed many of the famous cars included in the Cord, Auburn, Duesenberg lineup one of which was referred to as the “Baby Duesenberg” After many years designing this car that would fill the gap between the very expensive Duesenberg and the lesser expensive Auburn, the car was changed to become the  Cord L-29. By the way, the term “Isn’t she a Duesy” which is said by someone if they were admiring an object (or human) and in a flattering sense, was an abbreviated version of “Isn’t she a Duesenberg”.  Unfortunately, however, as good as 1929 seemed to be, it was also the beginning of the end for cars like these.
Lack of money in their corporate account and lack of interest from enough people waiting to purchase vehicles at this price was getting smaller and smaller. By July of 1935 and after the sale of kitchen cabinets made by one of Cord Corporation’s divisions provided just enough cash to attempt to spark the production of one last prototype Cord for the upcoming New York Auto Show. With too little time to create the quality vehicle Cord was noted for, production delays and the declining market, the task was completed but not their best effort. New Cords coming off the assembly lines were plagued with problems (and eventually were fixed) but the damage was done. By 1937 Cord had never made a cent of profit and production ended in August of 1937.  Auburn itself filed for bankruptcy in December of that same year.

  In retrospect, the handwriting was on the wall when the most mechanically advanced vehicle of its time met the great depression but believers in their product pushed forward thinking they could overcome. Only 1174 of the 1936 Model 810 were produced and fewer than 1150 of the next year’s 812 were produced. That meant there were a fewer than 2300 of these collectible vehicles for the world to appreciate.
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