9k Original Miles? 1937 Cord 812 Berline Sedan

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It only takes a quick glimpse of the coffin-like hood and concealed headlamps to confirm we are looking at a mid-1930s Cord. The car in question is a 1937 Cord 812. Already a relatively rare car, this one takes the stakes to a new level by being the Berline derivative. Various sources suggest that Cord produced only around fifty of these cars during the 1937 model year. This one has been sitting for decades, but it is a surprisingly solid classic that deserves restoration. The owner has dragged it out of hiding and feels that it needs to go to a new home and a person who can appreciate this gorgeous vehicle. Located in Harrisonburg, Pennsylvania, you will find this Cord listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set a price of $22,000, but he says that this figure is indicative. He may look at reasonable offers both higher and lower than this sale price.

The Cord was one of the most radical cars to roll off an American production line during the 1930s. Its distinctive hood and concealed headlamps endowed it with aerodynamic efficiency far superior to anything else on the market at the time. The radical drivetrain combination allowed the car to sit lower than its competitors, eliminating the need for such features as running boards. However, when you start to look at the minor details, you realize how much care had gone into the design of these classics. The company designed these vehicles with concealed door hinges and a hidden fuel filler, both features that were virtually unheard of in the 1930s. Even the hubcaps reflected this design philosophy. The holes were not there purely as an aesthetic choice but served to improve cooling to the brakes. The owner indicates that this classic rolled off the line wearing blue paint, but a previous owner treated it to a refresh in its current yellow many years ago. The yellow has seen better days, and the new owner will undoubtedly strip the car to bare metal if they seek a high-level restoration. The panels wear a few minor marks and blemishes but are surprisingly straight. The best news for potential buyers is that this car remains completely rust-free. There is surface corrosion, but this will be easy to address. The external trim is intact, and most of it looks like it would be a prime candidate for restoration. The buyer will need to spend money on glass because it is yellow and delaminated. This shouldn’t prove to be a massive drama because most of the glass is relatively flat, making sourcing replacements relatively easy.

If the Cord’s body design was radical, its drivetrain took this to a new level. The engine bay is occupied by a 289ci Lycoming flathead V8 that produced 125hp. The power found its way to the road via the front wheels and a four-speed preselector transmission. While its V8 didn’t produce the power offered by cars from manufacturers like Cadillac, its relatively low weight compared to such vehicles made it a sprightly performer. As a general rule, these engines are fairly bulletproof. However, the transmissions proved to be the weak point of the Cord 812. They suffered a myriad of problems, which damaged the car’s reputation with the buying public. It seems that this Cord has been sitting for many years, and it isn’t clear when it last moved under its own power. Its relative rarity means that the buyer will probably choose to inspect everything carefully before attempting to coax the motor back to life. These V8s are not particularly sophisticated, so a rebuild shouldn’t prove to be a significant challenge. The owner says that the odometer shows 9,938 miles, but he is unsure whether these are genuine. He includes a pair of spare transmissions in the sale, which may be a bonus for potential buyers. It appears that this car has experienced problems in this area in the past, and a previous owner has sought to address please in an unusual way.

This interior shot tells its own story about this car’s mechanical history. We can see evidence of the original preselector system mounted on the right of the steering column, but the car also features a very conventional manual gear shifter. The preselector transmission developed a reputation for reliability issues with relays and servos, and it was this that the saw potential buyers give the 812 a wide berth. This is not the first Cord of this era that I have seen with this type of manual conversion, and I even located a conversion kit listed on eBay. However, it may be that the additional transmissions included in the sale could allow the buyer to return this car to its original specifications. It’s also worth noting that modern hydraulics and electrical systems can allow these radical preselectors to operate more reliably.

While the exterior of this Cord will consume plenty of time and effort, there are no such challenges with the interior. The beautiful machine-turned dash is in excellent condition and would benefit from little more than some attention with a high-quality polishing product. The upholstered surfaces are free from rips, tears, and other physical damage. Before spending any money inside this car, I would treat it to a deep clean. This effort won’t help the carpet but should reveal that none of the upholstery will require replacement. It is hard to see the state of items like the headliner, but the overall impression seems to be pretty positive. The interior is complete and unmolested and even includes the original and standard-equipment factory radio.

The Cord 810 and 812 were prime examples of what happens when a vehicle manufacturer places their ambitions ahead of their abilities. These cars’ early mechanical problems damaged their reputation irreparably, and the final 812 rolled off the production line in August of 1937. Even then, the company was guilty of some smoke-and-mirrors accounting. It is believed that they produced 1,149 examples of the 812 during that model year, but around 150 of those vehicles were unsold 1936 model 810s that the company rebadged as 1937 model 812s. The relative rarity of the Berline makes this car worthy of restoration. I hope that somebody is willing to take it on, and I’d love to see it when the work is complete.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320

    Adam, Harrisonburg is in Virginia. I believe you were thinking of “Harrisburg” Pennsylvania.

    I worked for a guy back in the 80’s that had a 1936 Cord 812 Beverly. It was mostly in pieces waiting for restoration, unfortunately, I don’t believe that ever happened. I did get to hear that sweet old Lycoming roar to life a few times though. I live about 30 minutes from Williamsport, Pa, which is where the Lycoming’s are made. When I went to college there in the early 80,s, a group of us toured the engine plant. Being only 20 years old, it was awesome. They are still in business today rebuilding and manufacturing aircraft engines, and I believe that they still give tours of the plant. If you are ever in the area, I recommend it.


    Like 21
    • John Haelig

      I went to Lycoming ’78-’82. I mostly toured prisons, though.

      Like 9
      • Steveo

        Glad the parole came through.

        Like 17
      • JRHaelig

        Criminal Justice major, with a minor in non chalice.

        Nice valley, till they killed paper and invented methadone.

        Like 1
    • Ken Killam

      Contact J Leno, He might be interested in this !!

      Like 1
      • Gerald

        and has the $$$ and th committment to excellence.

        Like 0
  2. AxleTrap

    It looks like a Supercharged engine to me.

    Like 1
  3. Ray

    Please update your post to reflect the correct name of “Beverly” Sedan. (Not “Berline”.)


    Like 11
    • renascence

      The car is a Berline. It has a 132 inch wheel base vs 125 and has a divider window. One of 48 cars built or so depending on which numbers you use. It is not super charged from the factory noted by the engine number on the plate, FB. ,

      Like 7
  4. MarkO

    How could the pre selector transmission be converted to a manual gearbox on a front wheel drive vehicle? Could standard mechanical linkage be adapted to a Cord gearbox? Was it converted to rear wheel drive, with a conventional differential in the rear?
    Lots of questions!!

    Like 4
    • luke arnott

      It is my understanding that a lot of these were changed to manual transmission because the original set up was rubbish.

      Like 2
  5. Raymond

    Toronado 455 thm425?…anyone?…

    Like 10
  6. Michael O'Hara

    From Wiki… Supercharging was available on the 1937 812 model, distinguished from the normally aspirated 812s by the chrome-plated external exhaust pipes. (no pipes here)
    The 812 was available in 2 door Convertible, 4 door Beverley Sedan, 4 door Westchester Sedan and 4 door Phaeton. Only 21 of these Custom Berlines were built, usually to special order, the main difference, they were 7 inches longer than lesser models to give rear passengers more leg room, also featuring a wind up glass divider between front and rear passengers. (four 4-dr body styles, with the Berlines added differences)

    Like 7
    • HCMember

      The thought of updating and repairing the braking system, not to mention any transmission work along with any transaxle work on this Cord is just overwhelming. Unfortunately, most of the guys who had the knowledge to do the work, are no longer around.

      Like 0
  7. bone

    What could have been a game changer in the automotive industry ! Can you imagine if the transmission wasn’t problematic and Cord had the funds to keep up with the demand for this car ? Most cars from 1936 -37 look outdated sitting next to this cars design

    Like 4
  8. Dave

    No running boards!? What’s the beat cop supposed to stand on when he jumps on, points his night stick, and shouts “Follow that car!”

    Like 3
  9. Psychofish2

    9800 miles?

    Brake and clutch pedals say otherwise.

    But irrelevant.

    Nice and complete and very clean under all the grime it appears.

    Beautiful car.

    Like 8
  10. Psychofish2

    ‘The yellow has seen better days, and the new owner will undoubtedly strip the car to bare metal if they seek a high-level restoration. ‘

    But the patina ! What about the patina ?! /sarc

    Like 3
    • Al

      If it was the original color, maybe save the patina.

      ¿Why save puke yellow?

      Like 6
  11. Johnny C.

    Man, what a find! It appears that this example is in pretty good shape under all the muck. The design is unique and quite stunning. Ahead of it’s time in so many ways. Those trans-axles were always problematic… I believe the Tucker 48 was equipped with this unit and experienced all sorts of difficulties. Hope it gets the restoration it needs & deserves!

    Like 5

    If you count the horizontal grill trims there are 8 in all. That would make this a Custom Beverly. It has a 132″ wheelbase instead of the original 125″ wheelbase and is a more rare model overall than the regular Beverly.

    Like 2
  13. Troy

    Compared to what I have seen these things sell for in a lot worse condition I’m surprised this one hasn’t sold yet someone should send a link to Wayne Carini

    Like 3
  14. Bill

    Amazing that such an iconic classic is still available in a barn.

    Like 6
  15. HCMember

    The darker colored 1936 Cord you featured last week was the reverse condition of this one. Decent looking exterior with the interior in pieces, and this one with great looking interior and beat up exterior. The 1936 last week also had the chrome exhaust setup. One would have to have not only deep pockets to taken a Cord like this but good knowledge and experience with them. It’s worthy of it.

    Like 1
  16. Bob McK

    Wish I had the nerve to just buy this rare and unusual car. It belongs in my garage.

    Like 3
    • Al

      I know how you feel, I counted the pennies in my jar, there just isn’t enough.
      If I had enough pennies I would trailer this to Broken Arrow, OK for a total rebuild.
      Alas, after throwing in 2 dimes and a quarter from my pocket, there still wasn’t enough.

      Like 6
  17. frank j jr opalka

    had one of these yrs ago, much trouble, not for the faint of heart.

    Like 1
    • Al

      What was the main problem?
      My guess overheating.
      My worst problem was laying down on the front seat while driving to crank up the right headlight.

      Like 2
  18. sterling

    funny there is no blue on body or trunk/ could this be two cars made into one?

    Like 0
  19. MikeH

    “Most of the glass is relatively flat”. It’s either flat or it isn’t. If it’s flat, no problem. If it isn’t, problem.

    Like 3
  20. frank j jr opalka


    Like 0
  21. Ray

    I own a Beverly sedan. There is no Cord named “Berline”. The two sedan models offered by Cord were the Westchester and Beverly.

    No Berline.

    Like 3
  22. John

    Gordon Buerhig patented the entire car design I think ?
    He had his headlights popping out from the inside of the fenders though>> or so I have read somewhere?
    Last ones going out had some changes done to the Car by Alex Tremulis.
    Pretty sure I have that right?
    Amazing design and appeal.

    Like 1
  23. mark west

    Nice to see that the seller would consider offers higher than the asking price. I wish more people were that reasonable.

    Like 8
  24. stillrunners


    Like 1
  25. Little_Cars Little_Cars

    Holy crap! Second Cord in less than a week! Another chance to get any millennial or younger person to learn more about true classics. This one and the black one must have been stunners back in their day. The yellow Cords I’ve seen have been few and far between and more of a creamy color. Mostly Glenn Pray replicas.

    Like 1
  26. RJ Miller

    …. back in the summer of 1981 I was fortunate to meet Gordon Buehrig at a Concours event on the grounds of the former Dodge Estate. I was in my 20’s but like a little kid I waited until the press folks left him alone for a few minutes and approached him to ask for his autograph on my event pass. He happily signed my pass. I wish I could have spent a few more minutes to talk with him about the Cord since even then it was one of my favorite automobiles. A few years later Godon lent his name to a custom car called the Buehrig that was based upon a Corvette. I had just moved to CA so I couldn’t attend the invitation only event that unveiled the car to the press. Fortunately, a colleague did attend and sent me an event brochure that contained several photos. The “car” turned out horrible and did no justice to Gordon’s illustrious design history. The brochure was autographed by Gordon, Richard Kughn (an investor and well know Detroiter with an incredible car collection called Car Rail AND owner of Lional Trains), and four other notable automobile world “movers & shakers”. Although, I can’t make out their signatures and no longer can remember exactly who they were. My former colleague has long since passed on like the rest of the investors of the time. However, I still have Gordon’s signatures and quite a bit of memorabilia about Gordon and his Cord. I also, have “just a few” other pieces of car history that Gordon helped develop/design. He definitely is a part of automotive history!

    Like 0
  27. Mountainwoodie

    Much like the ’57 DeSoto Adventurer, yet another rare enough car , almost ‘sui generis’ in this case, to merit the deepest of pockets restoration. I should have planned better. Who knew?

    Like 0
  28. chrlsful

    wonderful design (true classics late 30s – very early 50s) and engineering (innovations). Seen the 3/4 sixe repro? Costs almost as much as 1 of these restored…

    Like 0
  29. John

    RJ Miller
    The car you refer to is the GBM I do believe ?
    I have a color brochure of the car.
    Also have a letter from Cole, GM pres at the time.
    A dear friend of Gordons, Ben Harris, took a letter from Gordon to Cole’s office, letter was about trying to get GM to produce it..
    car was neo looking. Yep, on a vette chassis.

    Last car Gordon had, which surfaced in Wi, still in his name, was built by Ben Harris. Builder of the first exotic super car in the world., stock holder in Road America and much more.

    Like 2
    • RJ Miller

      Hello John….
      If the Brochure we are both referring to is the one with a passenger side view of the “Buehrig Motor Car” (as it is referred to in the brochure) in the color of red with darker red/burgundy fenders and a set of wire wheels… than yup, you have the same brochure as I do! All of the autographs I referred to are on the cover page of the brochure. The introduction and general information on the inside appear to have been “typed” then printed on a copy machine using high grade paper…. vs. printed directly from a computer. If I’m not mistaken the brochure was produced quite some time before good ole Microsoft was selling “Windows” to the masses. I had a hard time giving up my IBM Selectric with the correction tab back then! I forget sometimes how much time has passed since those days…. until I see the old man looking back at me from the mirror when shaving in the morning! Anyway, I do have one other photo of what seems to be an earlier prototype of the BMC. I printed it off the Internet back in 2012. It’s painted a hideous light blue with dark blue fenders. Both cars feature stacked rectangle headlights on top of each fender. I guess rectangle headlights were the only other available option from the round T-3 lights that had been used for decades. Might have been a better design execution had Gordon stayed with the T-3 headlights. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion here in 2021. It’s great to know there is another Gordon Buehrig fan out in car world that also has held on to a brochure from one of Gordon’s last design efforts…. especially with the car having been Christened with his name! I wonder where the surviving cars are today? Would like to hear more about your collection. RJ Miller

      Like 0
  30. John

    RJ Miller,
    I do think we are on the same page without doubt !!!
    Ben was Gordon;s best man at his wedding, think 1934 or so?
    Times brought about the rectangular headlight, so I agree there too.

    The ACD museum contacted me about a “light box” Gordon gave Ben to take back to Navy research and Invention, like a Q division in a James Bond Movie.
    I have a letter from ACD society that talks about this. I need to go to the Museum/archives at the museum to finish.

    Did you know that Gordon , as all employees at ACD, had to be involved and participate in racing events? Barbara Buerhig told me this. That is also how I know his last car he owned was secreted away to Wi.

    I would guess the GBM car is hidden away somewhere, not sure how many Gordon made?
    I think Gordon was a stock holder in Road America too.
    Most do not know that WIKI acknowledges that the Chcago region was the driving force to design, fund and build the entire facility. Ben was Chairman and owned airports to fly everybody.
    First edition of Sports Illustrated>> racing coverage was Ben and Jim Kimberly, as in Kimberly Cup and Kimberly / Clark to this day.
    Harley and Zora play in, Cord plays in, and countless others.
    Ben was Genius.

    Long story that will be fascinating when told. Have a few more things to do before I search out a writer.It does change history as written, with pure fact, pics and docs.
    ANY WRITERS HERE ? please contact me; motorcarinvestments@gmail.com
    Ben was just inducted into the Watkins Glen Walk of Fame 2 months ago,

    Bens Speedster was no higher, wider or longer than a AC Cobra or D Type Jag. Have many many pics, one is him reprimanding Carroll Shelby, another is Fangio, he was a very important man that others painted out of the picture >>>>> that will all be taken care of.
    Very rough story by guys from around the world, maybe 1/20th of what we have. With links at bottom, re car and Ben, nearing 90,000 reads.
    When it was 17 years in age, it was still being sent invitations >>> & winning best of show, crazy huh?


    Merry Christmas to all !

    Like 0

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