Coffin Hood: 1936 Cord Westchester Sedan

1936 Cord Westchester

This Cord listed on here craigslist in Detroit is, well, sad. It’s a good thing it wasn’t crushed long ago or rusted completely into the ground in a field somewhere, but beginning in the 1950s someone began customizing it by removing the center posts from the windshield and back window. The drivetrain is long gone. The current owner was planning to build a restomod from this. The asking price is $15,000, which seems like a lot, but perhaps it’s not so bad given the car’s rarity and desirability.

The interior is said to be complete but the only picture provided is of the back seat. The trunk floor appears well rusted though.

The body appears complete, but the drive train, engine, transmission and suspension are gone. I imagine they would be very difficult to source those parts as the Cord is front wheel drive. Below is a drivetrain from an 810 series Cord displayed at the ACD (Auburn Cord Duesenberg) Museum.

Everything is unique, from the backwards fan to the halfshafts that drive off the front of the 4 speed transmission and the unique transmission controls – the Bendix preselector (you have a clutch, but you select the gear you want and when you depress the clutch it shifts).

Will It See The Road Again

Do you think someone with deep pockets could restore this? It seems like a monumental task. Perhaps  ACD (Auburn Cord Duesenberg) club members might be able to help. I think it would be awful to turn this into a restomod and it would be sad to see this become a parts car. What do you think – has the last nail been hammered into this Cord’s coffin (hood)?


  1. Jim

    At $15k this is going to have to go to someone with deep pockets. Maybe parting it out is the best way to go.

    • Gnrdude

      I was Thinking the Same thing, It would be an excellent Source of body Structural Parts for somebody with a More Complete but Rusty or Car With a Rough body that wants Original CORD Parts and Not Re-manufactured parts to complete a restoration.

    • Davnkatz

      A similar – complete resto looking like it just came off the showroom floor – just sold at auction for around $80grand. Let’s see how this one works out. $15,000 for this shell. AT LEAST $30,000 for drive train (if you can find one). Probably another $30,000 for metal work, interior, top-notch paint, tires etc, $5,000 for transportation and “search” for various items. That comes to $80,000, and pretty sure some items will run that cost even higher. The drive train cost might be reduced by installing an Olds Tornado “front engine drive train” system. About $3,000???

      Actually, If I had sufficiently deep pockets, – – – naw, I’m too old and would never live long enough to see it finished.

      • Jason Houston

        Tornados have fierce winds, but no drive trains. Never did, never will.

  2. Charlie


  3. skloon

    Could you fit a Northstar ?

    • Jason Houston

      Why polish brass on a sinking ship? It’s a total loss.


    Not much left

  5. krash

    Love the coffin body design…cool car

  6. dj

    Parts only

  7. Jim Mc

    Too far gone and not enough around for spares. This one -is- the spare.
    Either Eldo or Toronado retrofit/mod, or part it out.
    Too bad. Was once a terrific car.

    • Jason Houston

      I’d rather see it parted out than made into a rolling trash heap. What an insult…

  8. Mark S

    How about a period rear wheel drive, drivetrain and front suspension/ steering out of a Cadillac or a Lincoln. The refit wouldn’t be original but at least this old beauty would be saved. No matter how you slice it this would be no small task. This obviously would have to be a labour of love, I’m not sure I know what the owner was thinking as these are a well known desireable car with a very limited production. The only thing left to do is as I said above is a period restomod. The idea of parting it out in my mind would not be an option. The big problem with a tornado drive line is you would have one forward gear and three reverse gears, not sure how you would get past that.

    • Jason Houston

      Tornadoes have fierce winds, but no drivelines. What’s more important, the raw fact of life is that some cars must die so that others may survive. To ‘restomod’ this poor car would be to lay a permanent insult to its integrity. Too sad it wasn’t hauled off and scrapped in 1950. Or, ask the ACD Museum how they would enjoy having a restomod Cord in their display…

      • Mark S

        Let me get this straight you’d rather see this scrapped than brought back to life with a different period drive line. I suppose if there was someone restoring one of these and was in need of a donor car then sure part it out, but what if there is not. Should we then just crush it, I don’t like what the seller has done to this car any more than you do but I suspect that it has already been a donor car that’s why the drive line is missing. I further suspect that the seller bought it that way with intension of giving it a second life as a custom build and lost interest or got in over his head. So Jason as you say one car must die so another can live I suspect this poor car already did. Finally Jason it is not up to you what happens to this car that would go to the new owner who at this point hasn’t got a lot of options. What this car represents is for a not so rich guy with some talent and skills a chance to own a 1936 cord, something us little people don’t get a shot at very often.

        Like 1
      • Dave Wright

        I would rather it be left alone and preserved as is until someone with the intelligence and resourses could restore it. Since when is scrap it question. It might as well be scraped if it is restomoded anyway. Get a plastic Glen Pray If you want to play hotrod with serves the same purpose.

      • Mark S

        I think some of you guys don’t know the difference between a hot rod, a rat rod, and restomod, as I’ve said before the museums are already full there not going to be calling anytime soon, so why not enjoy it. We’re all here for a short time and I’m not into worshiping an old incomplete car body that’s already had some mods. I would think that you purist would be happy because if modified there would be one less perfect trailer queen and your values will go up. Dave, Jason you both have a right to your opinion but as I said above the only person that gets to decide will be the new buyer. Thanks for the debate gentlemen.


    Come to think of it the guy who bought the Cord factory has the parts to put it back together, but I can’t imagine it being cheap. The parts are out there though

  10. redwagon

    A RWD Cadillac conversion was common in cords back in the day. At least one has been covered here before.

    Regardless it would be a labor of love and $

  11. Lee

    The hood would make a good pull behind sled until you got the rest up to speed /Lee

  12. Keith

    Saw an unrestored one of these last year at Port Elizabeth heading overseas. Don’t know what that guy paid for his, but I bet he would have liked to have this one for spare parts. It’s unusual to see one of these in this condition and having been the victim of an attempted resto-mod.

  13. Thayer

    For those suggesting that this is too far gone to restore, I’m afraid you are mistaken. It is definitely worth the effort, and while cost is a question, there are a finite number left, and they are one of the all time great designs.

    The idea of swapping drivetrains is actually a bit harder than you might think. The axles of most front drive powertrains (including Olds/Cadillac) are located at about the centerline of the engine, and the Cord axles extend well in front of it. (see museum photos above)

    A front engine, rear drive conversion would actually be easier, but serious cutting/hacking of the body shell would be needed, as these cars were designed to be low, with a flat floor. Do some looking at the Graham Hollywood/Hupmobile Skylarks. They used the dies for the body from the cowl back, added their own 6 cylinder engines and rear drive.

    • Jason Houston

      Thank you for your encouraging words. Actually, I’m in favor of anything that precludes the car from being sacrificed at the hands of any more backwoods blacksmiths.

    • Mark S

      Thayer one of the points I was trying to make is almost all of these cord are in the hands of millionaires and the fact that this car is incomplete leaves it available to someone who is not. What I said in my first comment was that if it were mine I’d put a period drive line in it, NOT a 350 Chevy. I guess the word period is not that understandable. The idea of a Tornadodrive line simple would not work as the whole unit would have to be put in backward. My idea would be to make it rear wheel drive with maybe 50’s parts. I’m a 25 year mechanic and 15 year welder fabricator and I’m here to say that this conversion could be done a manor that is completely reversible. The idea that the car would be ruined is redicules.IF DONE CORRECTLY. I know what. I’m talking about not some guy with a Sears starter set.

      • Thayer

        I wasn’t calling out anyone or any comment in particular. Just voicing my experience. I own a ’40 Graham shell and a ’76 Eldorado chassis because someone else bought them hoping to build a Cordillac. I picked them up cheap. It doesn’t work. Having worked extensively on two Cords and two Graham Hollywoods, I can tell you what the difficult path to modification looks like.

        It’s been discussed (not by me) before.

        The reason they are ‘owned by millionaires’ is that they are valuable. The day may come when they aren’t, but it isn’t here yet.

      • Dave Wright

        These cars have always been owned by Millonaires. Think about trying to sell this quality and expensive car 1/2 way through the depression. Everyone else was trying to build and market a cheep car to keep there factories going.

  14. Howard A Member

    I always thought it was known as a coffin “nose”. Amazing dash on these, which would probably break the bank, just in itself. I think this is too far gone, but where would you find another.

  15. Dave Wright

    I have owned hundreds of cars since my first 57Chev in 1964. Many I bought because I saw value and wanted to fix as I could. Many were stored and sold at a later date as found to someone that had more time or money than I to restore. I probably made more money on those project cars than the ones that I got restored. They were great to own and learn about while I had them and it was wonderful seeing them go to someone that appreciated buying the opportunity to build a great car. I also love long term projects that I am constantly searching for the parts to repair. It can be as exciting to find the perfect rare part for a correct restoration as it was to buy the vehicle in the first place. I have always thought it is a tragedy to see a great classic destroyed by someone without the the inteligence, money or patience to do a proper restoration. If it is a common Ford or some plastic recreation……who cares, but these rare classics that managed to escape the scrap dealers for 80 years deserve better. Can you imagine the great cars that were melted during the scrap drives of WW2 and later. The Dusenburgs, Cords and great brass era cars………..the cars that survived all that because someone refused to sell them to a scrapper are truly a resourse to be cherished and revired as a testament to the builders, designers and people that protected them over the decades.

    • Mark S

      Dave I’ve read a lot of your comments and I have a sense that your a guy in your 70′ with tons experience in the auto industry, and I understand your point of view, but it is my option ( and maybe I’m wrong ) the gen z’s could not care less about cars like these. They are more interested in recycling and green house gases,they simply can not relate to antique cars, in fact I’d go as far as to say that they might see this car in this state as a symbol of all the excesses of the decades of the auto and oil/gas industries. When the baby bombers are gone most of these old cars are going to end up in the salvage yards and crusher. The trend to scrap grandpa’s pride and joy upon his death has already started. My local salvage yard recently crush a 50’s dodge that was a driver in decent shape because nobody wanted it.

      Like 1
    • Dave Wright

      Well, I have not reached my 70’s yet but I have been very active in the old car industry since the mid 60’s. I understand the trends that you are talking about, but cars like this Cord defy those trends. There is always someone that want them…….sort of like an estate in Monticeto, they are old and classic but there are very few of them and there are always enough people that want them to keep the values up. People do not change, only there toys. A Brewster built road carriage (horse drawn) from the 1880’s still sells for well over 100,000. They are the best design and quality of there time. Like this Cord.

    • Mark S

      As I said to Jason, Dave I have enjoyed our discussion and think it is time to agree to disagree. As for my age I’m north of 55 and have been a tradesmen all my adult life. You have a good evening.

  16. Dave Wright

    Howard..,…..if it would break your bank…….you are not the right guy to restore it. But you might be the right guy to preserve it.

  17. Mark S

    Jason I’m always amused at your over reaction and your righteous indignation and your amazing use of the English language. I’m honoured that you have traveled down to the insult cutter yet again this time referring to those that disagree as cereal killers and rapist. Keep up the good work buddy your awesome.

    • Jason Houston

      Sorry to offend you, Mark, but I have no use for financial predators, sex offenders, pedophiles or car customizers. I would no more f-up a car than I would a child. Both are sacred to me, SORRY!

      The only people who kill cereal are the manufacturers when they discontinue it. I don’t know Dave, but I seriously doubt he’s 70′ tall.

    • Mark S

      I’m not offended Jason and I have enjoyed our discussion I guess we’re at an impasse and should maybe agree to disagree.have a good evening.

  18. Jason Houston


    You are so right. Quality is timeless and priceless. But, as Mark pointed out, his generation never had the benefit of experiencing old cars as anything but a graffiti wall, so they’ll never experience the joy and thrill and personal pride of bringing something full circle to the condition it was in when a proud owner drove it for the first time. They did the same thing in the 1920s; take an old Model T and paint it all up so it looks nothing but stupid, then call it art, for lack of a better word.

  19. Mark S

    Jason where in all the posts up above did I ever say that I view vintage cars as a graffiti wall. You sure do a lot of miss quoting in your responses are you trying to twist my words or do you really not understand. I thought we settled our disagreements like gentlemen but I guess not. So let conclude with this question. If you Jason and Dave are sure it should be rescued and restored for posterity then why don’t you two guys join forces and pony up the 15K for your great rescue. Then you can do what ever you want with it. You know there were over 1100 of these made right, so there not that rare.

    • Jason Houston

      You conveniently pose a simple answer to a complex question, “If we’re so smart, why don’t we pony up and take the car”. I could say the same to you, “If you think this would make such a great street modrod, why don’t you pony up and take the car.”

      Years ago, I knew a neighbor who had two of these 4-doors, and they were worth a lot then, even in # 5 basket-case condition. So when I see what this stoned monkey did to the car in 1950, it makes my heart bleed… the same way it probably makes some low-rider’s salivary glands kick in.

      No, I don’t know how many were made. All I know about Cords is what I read from greater authorities than myself. If they’re “not all that rare”, then why all the smoke and mirrors?

  20. Steve Member

    I happen to be the owner of this Cord, i purchased is as you see it in the pics, as i stated in the ad it would make a nice retrorod or a restored car with a lot of effort and money, i purchased it to restorod it and decided to purchase a fully restored original instead of spending all the time and money building this one, to me no matter which way a person wants to do this car is totally up to that person. Purists are a pain in the a?? Its my car my money and if i want to put a big block chevy with automatic and air conditioning in it its my baby not yours, dont badmouth me for building a car that I want with what i have and what i can afford, you pain in the a?? purists need to stay with your purist mentality people, of which most cant even afford a rust bucket piece of dooky Cord anyhow, Get A Life and leave people with a different vision alone.
    The owner of this cord, also owner of an ORIGINAL 36 CORD 810

  21. mtshootist1

    I talked with a guy I know up here in Montana who owns a restored 1937 Cord Windsor. He told me that since the Cord had a unibody design, that guys who tried to cut a tunnel through the centerline of the body for rear wheel drive, had the body fold down in the middle. He said that they usually drove like a crab, sort of sidewise. He also relayed that he had multiple engines and transmissions, and his is also supercharged. The transmission was extremely fragile, and you had to drive it carefully. I showed him the photos on Barnfinds, and he thought it was quite restorable. Apparently, there are engines and various parts pretty much available. This is no reflection of the intent of the owner. Just thought I would share info from a bonafide Cord restorer. He also made the comment that his orginal intent was to have three restored Cords, but by the time he got done with the first, that was enough. Great guy, he brings his Cord to the gun shows around SE Montana, says it will cruise at 80 no sweat. He showed me a photo of what it looked like before he started, and it makes this one look pretty good.

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