Tag Archives: Cord Model 810

Indiana Cars in My Four Car Fantasy Garage

What would be the cars in my “Four Car Fantasy Garage?”

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know my selection will be heavily slanted to Indiana-built automobiles. In fact, my selections are three Hoosier autos plus one domestic built one ranging from 63 to 82 years old.

Twenty Grand Duesenberg
Twenty Grand Duesenberg

My first pick is the “Twenty Grand” Duesenberg build for exposition at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. The regal Duesenberg Model SJ Arlington Torpedo Sedan is probably one of the most well-known Duesys. Designed by the legendary Duesenberg stylist Gordon Buehrig, the car was bodied in Pasadena by the Walter M. Murphy Company and aptly named for its staggering price in 1933. That price the “Twenty Grand” would buy you 40 new Plymouth business coupes with change to spare! It was the most expensive automobile of the year. This was the ultimate motorcar of the era. No other American car, not Lincoln, or Packard, or even Cadillac, had so powerful an image. Today it resides in the Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar, California.

1936 Cord Model 810 sedan
1936 Cord Model 810 sedan

My second choice was also designed by Gordon Buehrig, the 1936 Cord Model 810. The car debuted at the New York Auto Show on November 2, 1935. The first Cord 810 rolled off the assembly line in Connersville on February 15, 1936. Innovations on the Cord 810 included disappearing headlights, concealed door hinges, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, Bendix Electric Hand (steering column mounted-electric gear pre-selection unit), and factory installed radio. Some of the internationally known celebrities purchasing Cord automobiles were movie stars Sonja Heine and Tom Mix. In fact, actress Jean Harlow ordered a Cord with paint and upholstery to match her platinum blonde hair. The 1951 New York Museum of Modern Art exhibit regarded “the Cord as the outstanding American contribution to automobile design.”

1963-Avanti-Front
1963 Avanti

My third draft is the 1962 Studebaker Avanti. Studebaker President Sherwood Egbert enlisted Raymond Loewy’s group to design this remarkable sport coupe for introduction at the New York International Auto Show in April 1962, By the fall of 1961, orders were placed with outside suppliers for items that Studebaker could not produce internally. The Avanti is best known for its under-the-bumper air intake and “Coke-bottle,” wedge shape design. The fiberglass body sat on a modified Lark Daytona convertible chassis. Avanti’s safety theme was prominent throughout with a recessed and padded instrument panel with red lights for night vision, built-in roll bar, and safety-cone door locks. The car was also one of the first American passenger cars to use caliper-type disc brakes. Iterations of the Avanti and the Avanti II were produced until 1985. You can still find reasonably priced Avanti’s in today’s vintage automobile market.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe
Copyright © 1957 General Motors

Of course, I still have a soft spot in my heart for my first car, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe. One of these would be the other car in my fantasy garage. What drew me to my 57 Chevy in 1965, was what still draws me today – styling. I believe this styling of the 1955-1957 Chevrolet’s is the best execution of this “everyman’s car.” From the anodized grille to the sleek tailfins, this car talks to me. My two-tone hardtop had a Canyon Coral body with an India Ivory Top and black interior with silver accents. It was powered by a 283 V-8 and Turboglide transmission. This was one sharp set of wheels. If only knew then what I know, I would have put this automotive icon in a time capsule for today.

So, what would you choose for your “Four Car Fantasy Garage?” Tell us about it.

For more information on Indiana cars & companies follow this link.

The innovator of rolling sculpture

With all of the excitement that surrounds the annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival, my thoughts immediately go to the designs of Gordon M. Buehrig, called the innovator of rolling sculpture. His automotive designs spanned many decades and are still recognized by auto aficionados.

Gordon M. Buehrig
Gordon M. Buehrig
Copyright © Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum

Buehrig’s interest with automobiles started like many of the rest of us. He doodled. In fact, an instructor expelled him from class on one occasion because the student’s notebook was full of automobile drawings. This early interest in auto design shaped the rest of his life.

Many regard Buehrig as one of the most important automotive designers. His career spanned nearly four decades while working at Dietrich Inc., Packard, General Motors, Stutz, Duesenberg, Auburn Automobile Company, the Budd Company, Raymond Loewy’s Studebaker studio, and Ford Motor Company. His famous designs include the 1932 Duesenberg Model J Beverly, the 1934 Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster, and the 1936 Cord Model 810.

E. L. Cords 1937 Cord Beverley Sedan
E. L. Cords 1937 Cord Beverley Sedan

The Cord Model 810 is probably one of his best known designs. In late 1933, during his second stint with General Motors Art and Color Section, Buehrig designed an aerodynamic car with air intakes on each side of a wrap-around hood. Back in E.L. Cord’s employment, this design study became the genesis for a “baby Duesenberg” in 1933. By December 1934, the design of the new front-wheel-drive Cord Model 810 model was essentially complete and then shelved.

When the project was revived in July 1935, there was less than four months in which to build and test a prototype, tool up, and get the cars into production for the New York Auto Show on November 2, 1935. The company made the deadline, but without the transmissions in place. Plus, the phaetons were without any tops. The missing parts didn’t matter. The Cord 810 stopped the show. People had to stand on surrounding cars just to get a glimpse of Cord’s exciting new design. Cord received over 7,600 requests for more information on the 810. Unfortunately, due to unanticipated production start-up problems, almost six months would pass before any deliveries were made.

The Cord Model 810 was available in four models: the five-passenger Westchester Sedan, four-passenger Beverly Sedan, five-passenger Convertible Phaeton Sedan, and the Convertible Coupe with rumble seat. In 1951, the New York Museum of Modern Art special exhibit titled “Hollow Rolling Sculpture,” recognized the Cord 810 as “the outstanding American contribution to automobile design.”

While you are walking among the gems at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival, think back to Gordon M. Buehrig, the innovator of rolling sculpture.

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.

Cord Model 810 celebrates 80th anniversary

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Cord Model 810, which is probably the most well-known product of the Cord Corporation.

Gordon M. Buehrig’s original work on the Cord Model 810 began as a “baby Duesenberg” in 1933. By December 1934, the design of the new front-wheel-drive model was essentially complete and then shelved. When the project was revived in July 1935, there was less than four months in which to build and test a prototype, tool up, and get the cars into production for the New York Auto Show on November 2, 1935. The company made the deadline, but without some items in place. The missing parts didn’t matter.

The Cord 810 stopped the show. People had to stand on surrounding cars just to get a glimpse of Cord’s exciting new design. Cord received over 7,600 requests for more information on the 810. Unfortunately, due to unanticipated production start-up problems, almost six months would pass before any deliveries were made.

E.L. Cord's 1937 Cord Beverly
E.L. Cord’s personal 1937 Cord 812 Beverly
Copyright © 2008 Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum

The Cord Model 810 was available in four models: the five-passenger Westchester Sedan, four-passenger Beverly Sedan, five-passenger Convertible Phaeton Sedan, and the Convertible Coupe with rumble seat.

The first Cord 810 rolled off the assembly line in Connersville on February 15, 1936. Innovations on the Cord 810 included disappearing headlights, concealed door hinges, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, Bendix Electric Hand (steering column mounted-electric gear pre-selection unit), and factory installed radio. The model was the first automobile in the United States to adopt unit body construction in its full sense. (Chrysler Airflow and Lincoln Zepher used modified forms.)

In November 1936, the company introduced the Cord 812 for the 1937 model year. The 1937 Cord Model 812 had a 190 h.p. supercharged engine and boasted chrome-plated external exhaust pipes. An example of the model’s claim-to-fame was its use as the official chief observer’s car for the 1937 Indianapolis 500 mile race.

The year, however, witnessed a soft auto market, and Cord production fell to around 1,100 units. In 1937, only the wealthy few could afford the $2,500 to $3,500 needed to buy this exceptional automobile. Some of the internationally known celebrities purchasing Cord automobiles were the movie stars Sonja Heine and Tom Mix. In fact, actress Jean Harlow ordered a Cord with paint and upholstery to match her platinum blonde hair.

When production of the Cord automobile was terminated in October 1937, fewer than 3,000 Model 810/812 units had been produced. The automotive operations of Cord Corporation died when E.L. Cord shifted his focus to other interests.

In their day, these Cords stirred the imagination of the motoring public. Their clean simplicity of line, exciting innovations, and luxurious appointments won much admiration and many awards. At the 1951 Museum of Modern Art exhibit titled Eight Automobiles, MOMA curator Arthur Drexler declared: “We regard the Cord as the outstanding American contribution to automobile design.” This popularity still rings true some 80 years later.

Working on Indiana’s Innovative Automotive Designs

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on my new presentation “Indiana’s Innovative Automotive Designs.” I was inspired by the Indianapolis Museum of Art exhibit “Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas” scheduled for May 3 to August 23, 2015, which traces the development of concept cars not intended for series production from the early 1930s to the present.

Duesenberg Twenty Grand
Duesenberg Twenty Grand

With that in mind, I wanted “Indiana’s Innovative Automotive Designs” to demonstrate the development of three Indiana-built automobiles from 1928 to 1962. I believe it is style and beauty that draws us to a particular automobile. In the first-half of the twentieth century, some of America’s most sought after automobiles were produced in Indiana.

Cord Sedan
Cord Sedan

I want to tell this story through three iconic Indiana-built automobiles: the Duesenberg Arlington Torpedo Sedan better-known as the “Twenty Grand” Duesenberg; the 1936 Cord Model 810; and the 1962 Studebaker Avanti. They are still highly regarded by automotive enthusiasts around the world today.

Avanti at Palm Springs
Avanti at Palm Springs

These innovative automotive designs demonstrate only part of Indiana’s contributions to America’s production cars.

For more information click this link.

I look forward to sharing my new presentation with you.