1-Of-97: 1966 Cord Sportsman 8/10

For a brief time in the 1960s, there was an attempt to bring the storied Cord 810/812 back to life. It wasn’t the effort of some major corporate executives, but an individual who pulled in resources from all over to get it off the ground. Sadly, less than 100 of the cars were ever made and fortunately this one has survived largely intact and waiting for a restoration. It’s located in a garage in Avon, New York and available here on Facebook Marketplace for $7,900. Hats off to our pal, Ikey Heyman, for turning this one up for us!

Back as a kid, I thought the front-wheel drive Cords 810 and 812 from the 1930s were just about the coolest cars ever. And all these years later, I still feel that way. Much to my surprise to find out that in the mid-1960s an entrepreneur tried to resurrect the car, but as a smaller scale, tribute version of what once was. The Cord Sportsman 8/10 was the brainchild of high school teacher Glenn Pray who also had an automobile repair shop on the side. Pray started by collecting a dozen or so original Cords and bought the rights to the name and whatever parts were left over from the old Auburn Automobile Company that made the Cord. He struck deals with any investors he could find to finance his new venture, the production of a “new” Cord 810/812 out of an old pickle plant in Oklahoma. The difference between the original 810 and 812 was that the 810 was not supercharged and the 812 was.

As plans moved forward, it became apparent to Pray and others that the best way to build the new car was to make it to scale and borrow from whatever existing parts supply there may be. The car ended up being about 80 percent the size of the original Cord (hence how the 8/10 name came about) and used a forward-mounted, turbo-charged 140-horsepower Corvair engine to drive the front wheels through a Powerglide automatic. While fiberglass was first envisioned for the body, they instead went with a new “miracle” material called Expanded Royalite that was made by U.S. Rubber Co. It consisted of two sheets of ABS plastic bonded with a layer of expanded ABS foam. It was virtually indestructible and found its way into boats and aircraft.

The reincarnation of the Cord name attracted media attention when the first prototype was unveiled in 1964 and the car promptly found itself on the covers of Popular Mechanics and Road & Track. The media euphoria did not equate to financial success as Pray was not an astute businessman, so he found himself ousted from his own company after just three cars were made. 88 more cars were built before the plant was shut down in 1965. Others came to the rescue for a short time and a total of 97 cars finally saw the light of day, including a few with a Ford V-8 engine under the hood. 70 of those cars were accounted for as recently as a decade ago, so the survival rate of these rarities seems pretty high. For a more complete overview of the short-lived resurrection of the Cord, check out this older story from Hemmings.

According to a plate produced for this car, this Sportsman 8/10 was built in May 1966 for a specific individual named Cooper. It’s said to have 40,000 miles on the odometer and there is no mention whether or not it runs (we assume it does not). The body looks to be in decent shape, with the interior possibly needing the most work. There appear to be holes in the floorboards, which we assume are made of metal rather than U.S. Rubber magic material. A total restoration is in order and we assume the mechanical portions of that project won’t be too hard to find as Corvair parts are still available. So, what is a car like this worth? Believe it or not, Hagerty has tracked the 8/10 and a creampuff would go for close to $30,000, while one in fair condition (like this car) is more like $9,000. So, the seller has done his homework.

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Comments

  1. Fahrvergnugen Member

    DB Cooper your car is ready. Just don’t disappear again before you come get it.

    Like 12
  2. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Just the other day I was watching a DVD movie with my wife “A walk in the clouds”. The son of the vineyard owner drove a black Cord like this, very interesting cars with features far ahead of their time. Like the hidden headlights and front wheel drive and many others. Now a car like this far exceeds my pay grade, but very nice to visit in a museum or a car show.
    God bless America

    Like 6
    • Al

      The hidden headlights are OK, but if you are by yourself in the car they are a pain. There are two cranks, one on either side of the car. You can crank one headlight up, the left one if left-hand drive, but you have to stop to crank the right hand one. Try to get both operating while in a tunnel, it’s not fun.

      Like 9
      • Steve Clinton

        Still better than the replica with the exposed ‘googley’ headlights! That one is just ruined by them.

  3. Jeff

    In One Three Letter Word: DUD

    Like 4
  4. A.J.

    If you like the 8/10 then this is a good one with the turbo and the four speed. They are interesting in their own way but not to be confused with the real thing. The condition on this one would be the one thing to give me pause, but there are less worthwhile projects.

  5. Maestro1 Member

    If I had the room and not ongoing projects I would look at this seriously.
    Not sure about Corvair power, and certainly it would take time and some
    very gifted people to do the job right.
    Someone save this car.

    Like 3
    • K. R. V.

      If you are not sure about covariant power, just think about this. The Engine used has 164 ci, that when Turbocharged make 180 hp at 4,800.

      Like 1
      • Vince H

        @K.R.V You are correct. The 140hp had 4 carbs.

      • Rob Price

        Hi, mine has a single Holly carb and seems to produce loads of power. Guzzles fuel and ices up but certainly not umderpoered

  6. lbpa18

    Love to have one, but I think Id want it about 20% larger.

    Like 3
    • Poppy

      Or even 25%.. :-)

  7. chrlsful

    I agree, but only a tribute, these could never be more. (like a 1930s Bulavoa and a modern day knock off). The size alone tells one that.

    Yes restore !

  8. Malcolm Boyes

    I remember a well healed gent cruisng round Marina del Rey ,California in one as his daily driver. His was a light yellow/ cream and in perfect condition last time in saw it probably in the later 90’s..always thought it was very well done for a tribute car. I hope this one finds a good home..

    Like 2
  9. Charles D. Schultz

    This “tribute car” is older than the 810 Cord was when it was built. At what point do “tribute cars” become collectible as cool cars on their own? Excalibers, those Pinto engined Model As, and even these 8/10 Cords deserve some love just for the skill and dedication of the people who made them. Same with kit cars that actually get roadworthy.
    Way too many “keyboard experts” who have never turned a wrench disrespect those who gave it their best shot.

    Like 11
    • Frank Armstrong

      Late in the production, the replica Cords were built with a Chrysler 440/Torqueflite drivetrain. I was working in the Chrysler Plymouth dealership in Stillwater, Ok when two of these bigger Cords came through and stopped to get a minor engine repair on one of them. As I recall, they were being driven from the assembly plant in Tulsa for delivery to a couple of oil men in Enid, OK. These late versions were beautiful cars.

      Like 1
    • Shan_Paramus

      my thoughts exactly, well said

  10. ACZ

    I remember that Dick Clark, of American Bandstand, bought one of these when they first came out.

    Like 1
  11. Bob Roller

    At no point in time did the Cord cars including the L29’s be considered as dull.
    I think the idea was “If we can’t be the biggest.be different”.No Auburn,Cord or Duesenberg could be considered as dull after 1929.I saw one of these newer ones in a garage years ago and the man looking after it was a mentally challenged person and had no idea as to what it was.

    Like 1
  12. Cj

    It’s winking at me! 😳

  13. Dale Quinn

    The Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg company is still in business in Broken Arrow, OK. The website is ACDFACTORY.COM
    They sell parts and restore also. I see they have a FB page too.

    Like 1
    • Vince H

      Glen’s son now runs the business.

  14. willowen Member

    There was a shop near mine in Palo Alto where I would see one similar to these parked every day, although I’m pretty sure it was one of the later ones built (if I recall correctly) on a Ford truck chassis. This was in the late Sixties/early Seventies. However, since coming to Pasadena I have seen REAL Cords often enough to get a better perspective on what sort of presence they have, both across the show lawn and up close, and no plastic copy can compete with that.

    Actually, what has surprised me the most is that those 810s and 812s I was so crazy about as a car-mag-reading teenager aren’t nearly as attractive to me as the earlier L29s! Part of that may be that those seen close up are a lot smaller and tidier than they look in photos, not to mention in advertising illustrations that were always rendered a few sizes larger than their occupants.

    Like 1
  15. 64 Bonneville

    the reproduction Cords with the “bugged” headlights on top of the fenders are Samco, NOT the Glenn Pray design. Glenn was a shop teacher for Tulsa Public Schools, when he started this endeavor. They also built some Auburn Boat Tailed Speedsters with Ford LTD underpinnings.

  16. Karl

    There was a time when the Cord auto company had an almost God like shroud over it. They were the cars of the TOP 5 percent in the country! They were beautiful, powerful, very advanced for their time and competed directly with some of the best in the world, unfortunately like some other best in the world their time also came and went. In my eyes the originals are still works of art that also get a huge amount of respect from me!

  17. HelenaNOLA

    The gentleman the car was built for John Hornton-Cooper was a legendary North Beach pianist. Mr. Cooper, a native of San Jose, owned a piano that had once belonged to Ira Gershwin, and he collected classic automobiles. He played in the bands of Lionel Hampton, Saunders King, Louis Armstrong and Charles Mingus. He passed away in 1976 in San Francisco.

    Like 2
  18. Kevin Fear

    I own one of these. They were available turbo / non turbo / 4 speed / automatic with and without AC. SAMCO resumed production after Glenn Pray and built 7 Corvair powered cars (I have one) then went to V8’s. Very fun car but everything is pieced together. This car would not be worth restoring its merely a parts car worth about $500 to the right person.

    Like 1
    • John

      Ask the man who owns one!

      • Bob Roller

        Ask the man who owns one and get cussed out in every language now in use.

  19. gail a riggins

    so very sad to see any car get this bad . this car was meant to be a statement . it should have been cared for . now who knows how much it would take to bring it back to it’s glory

  20. Kevin Fear

    Also I don’t know anything about crank up headlights. I own one in mine has electric headlights that go up and down. Perhaps the early ones had cranks I do not know.

    It is a blast to drive and gets a lot of looks. Ironically it weighs 800 pounds more than a Corvair.

  21. Bob Roller

    EVERY car that was built by E.L.Cord’s automobile empire made a statement from the lowest price Auburn to the Duesenbergs that told all who see them that
    “I have made it big”and here is proof.

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