Coveted and Complicated: 1937 Cord Beverly Sedan

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In the hierarchy of collectible automobiles, few makes are more revered than Cord.  Part of the fabled Auburn Automobile Company, Cord was the automaker’s technology leader with such innovations as front-wheel drive and hidden headlights.  Decades later, every single vehicle produced by the company is hotly pursued by collectors.  If you would like to put a beautiful Cord automobile in your garage as a project, then check out this 1937 Cord Beverly sedan for sale on Craigslist in Vienna, Virginia.  When you factor in the costs of restoration, is $27,500 a market correct price?  Thanks to Mitchell G. for the incredible tip.

In the eyes of many collectors, the products of the Auburn Automobile Company produced from 1929 through the company’s exit from the marketplace in 1937 were the high water mark of American automobiles.  During that brief window, such incredible automobiles as the Auburn Speedster, Cord L-29 and 810/812, and the stunning Deusenberg J and SJ were produced.  These cars combined cutting-edge engineering and drop-dead gorgeous styling to absolutely captivate American automobile buyers at a time when the economy was in free fall.

Of the three brands under the automaker’s umbrella, Cord was the one that pushed to be radically different than other offerings in the marketplace.  During the brand’s short lifetime, it produced two separate models: the L-29 and, later, the 810/812.  Both were front-wheel driven in a time when the only American offerings were the Ruxton and Harry Miller’s front-wheel drive racecars.  It was with Miller as a consultant and using Miller’s patents that E.L. Cord brought the radical for the time technology to market.

While the first L-29 Cords were priced to be competitive with garden variety Cadillacs and Packards, the front-wheel drive layout was a favorite of coachbuilders who could build low-to-the-ground bodies thanks to the absence of a drivetrain behind the cowl.  When the 810/812 Cords came out, they were about as radically different from other American cars as they could get.  Not only were they front-wheel drive and offered with a supercharger, but these unique vehicles also sported hidden headlights, pontoon fenders, a four-speed electric-assisted “pre-selector” transmission, and a complete absence of running boards.  Luminaries such as Tom Mix and Amelia Earhart were among the high-profile owners of these radical cars.

The design was completely revolutionary under every definition of the word.  That revolutionary design may have also been its downfall.  The cars were complex to build, and testing should have been more extensive before they hit the showroom floor.  Problems with the transmissions were the biggest complaint.  These issues combined with the economy of the time, financial troubles for the company, and a hint of financial impropriety took the luster off the new model.  It lasted for just two years, with many of the unsold first-year models being re-numbered to sell for the final year.  While the company was no longer in the automobile business, the dies to produce the body panels for the sedans were later used to produce the Hupp Skylark and Graham Hollywood.

The car you see in the ad is a matching number example that has not been restored.  It has benefitted from transmission reliability upgrades to the original vacumn-electric shift mechanism to remedy one of the chief issues with these cars.  At some time in the past, it was painted a 1955 Cadillac finish called Cape Ivory #2 and currently has contrasting brown (perhaps red oxide primer) fenders.  The dash, which appears to be still in the original finish, looks to be maroon.  This may be the color it left the factory with.  The story on the car is that the seller drove the car in college many decades ago, but it has been off the road for some time.  One positive note is that the engine still rotates freely.

A couple of decades ago, this car would have been snapped up at the asking price.  Factor in both inflation and a declining number of enthusiasts who even know what this car is, and you can see the luster is off these incredible cars to a certain extent.  Regardless, a Cord should be on everyone’s short list of cars to own during their lifetime.  It was a revolutionary car when it debuted, and one would be hard-pressed to name another car that was so radically different than the competition in automotive history.  Hopefully, one of our readers will snap this car up, restore it, and drive it as intended.

Would you like to own a Cord?  Would you be afraid to restore such a complex vehicle?  Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

 

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Comments

  1. Chris A.

    The car should be purchased for a comprehensive restoration. Notice it doesn’t have the bustle back.

    Like 11
    • Lance

      That would be the Cord Westchester.

      Like 7
    • Richard B Kirschenbaum

      Humm Chris, doesn’t make it a Westchester? And actually, more attractive if less practical?

      Like 1
  2. Trent wuchter

    When I was a teenager I worked at a classic car dealership applied named classic car. At the time they were selling late model bimmers early 70s jags stuff along that lines. I’d been there about 3mons when a cord came in on a trailer for consignment. I watched in awe that with all the expertise standing there and “dumb kid” me was the only one who knew how to start and drive one. At 19 I had been exposed to auburn cords and deuenburgs my entire life. My dad lived for labor day weekend to walk the aution at auburn festival every year. My boss watched me get in pull the shifter up start the car and back it off the trailer without a hitch. The owner of the car spent the rest of the day questioning my knowledge of his car. He deemed me appropriate to drive his vehicle. One of the best days of my life. LOL

    Like 77
    • Nostromo

      You’d been trained for precisely that moment. Very well done, Trent.

      Like 26
      • Trent wuchter

        My dad trained me for it.He was there at the time. I miss him very much. He passed in19. He never forgot that day and nether have I. Thanks for the kind words.

        Like 40
      • Fred

        Cherish that memorie , your dad was very very proud of you because you rembered what he taught you that means a lot to a father.!!!!

        Like 5
  3. AL HEARTBREAKER

    You can’t loose with this 90% complete car. Even if you just store it and do nothing to it for 20 years You can’t loose.

    Like 11
  4. Kenn

    Can’t lose either. I lost out ’cause didn’t buy one in ’62 for the $800 ask.

    Like 8
  5. Kenneth Carney

    A friend of my father’s had an 812 in
    the late ’60s-early ’70s. Not sure of the body style, but he bought it in 1950 and my Dad went along to help
    bring the car to Mr. Bittner’s house in
    Bloomington before going into the
    service later that month. Once he got
    it running, Mr. Bittner drove the car in
    parades and on nice days. There was a friend of Mr. B’s that had a Deusen-
    burg SJ dual cowl phaeton that he would show and rent out for weddings if you could afford it. I got
    to ride in that car to get a cold soda
    from a small station not far from Mr.
    B’s place. I had just earned a cold drink and some quick cash washing and waxing the Cord! I was 13, maybe 14 then, and it was the thrill of
    a lifetime to be surrounded by such
    fine automobiles and the memories
    will last me a lifetime.

    Like 17
  6. DRV

    This is a huge opportunity to get something totally classic and innovative. It has one of the best dashboards ever made. I want it just to mess with it in my garage!

    Like 8
  7. Slantasaurus

    This is a Cord Westchester, the Beverly has the humpback trunk.

    Like 9
  8. DRV

    Forgot to mention, this is an excellent write up…

    Like 13
    • JLHudson

      Except for the part about Cord being part of the Auburn company. Cord, Auburn & Duesenberg were part of E.L. Cord’s “empire” which also had companies such as Curtiss at one time. Auburn company goes back to 1900. Cord acquired Auburn and Duesenberg and then created Cord (in ~1929) as an intermediate priced car. The ACD museum is a great place, along with the adjacent National Truck Museum.

      Like 16
      • Greg

        Went to the ACD, National Truck and the Flathead Ford Museum in April of this year. One of the Best Vacations we have ever taken. Would love to go again. The 1937’s Cord is my Dream Car.

        Like 3
  9. chrlsful

    thnx Jeff. For the Qs:
    “Yes” it’s up there for me w/507, 350SL, C-1 (’56/60)other late 30s-
    very early 50s Merican and same on Continent (add 20, 30 yrs
    on the end). When we get to the real details tho, I have no
    idea (difference w/810, 12 Beverly, L-29). I can tell the
    difference to look but not name all the models. Still,
    I can love em (boat tail Duesy:
    https://hymanltd.com/vehicles/7080-1981-duesenberg-ii-sj-boattail-speedster/
    Delahaye
    https://newatlas.com/the-outrageous-1949-delahaye-175-s-saoutchik-roadster/15949/
    (Well the cord’n last can be different enuff for me to name).

    Like 0
  10. Bob

    In answer to the questions posed at the end of this article. Yes, I’d love to own one and yes, I’d be afraid to restore and maintain this vehicle. Between the front wheel drive and that transmission, it would be a daunting project unless you were an expert mechanic. But watta car to own!

    Like 6
  11. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    “ Luminaries such as Tom Mix and Amelia Earhart were among the high-profile owners of these radical cars.”
    Perhaps not too surprising as both were renowned pioneers in their respective endeavors.Tom Mix was a first to effectively capture the western cowboy on the Hollywood screen. Mix so immersed himself in his role he became a good friend of Wyatt Earp and served as a pallbearer at Earp’s funeral.
    Amelia Earhart changed aviation and America’s perception, especially in her role of furthering the change of the prejudice towards women pilots at the time.

    Both appreciated innovation-like the Cord.

    Another terrific write up, Jeff-nicely done again.

    Like 10
    • Vince H

      I saw the Tom Mix car when it was owned by Homer Fitterling. At the time he owned 24 Duesenbergs.

      Like 9
  12. Vernon F. Bruder

    My dad was born in 1925 in Speedway Indiana. He was always a car guy and had a career either wrenching or selling cars. The cars from his era that stirred him the most were the Cords. Thanks so much to the reader who posted this to Barn Finds.

    Like 9
  13. charlieMember

    And the slope back is, to me, far more attractive than the hump back, no matter what the brand. Less practical, but, who is going to buy an 1930’s car to be practical? I first saw one in Westbrook CT parked by an old tourist court, for years, and now, in CA, there is a very fine one, maroon, trailered to local parades, and shows, runs well, but they don’t drive it far from home.

    Like 6
  14. Ron jones

    I have a 36 Westchester and a G Hollywood. Cord is complete and in primer but the GH is missing engine, tranny and grill. Up here in Alaska.

    Like 4
  15. Gary Pallman

    In The Godfather Part 1 there is one parked in the movie producer’s circular driveway.

    Like 3
  16. C Force

    Fortunately you can still get all parts you for these from the “factory”.The Cord car company lives on in Broken Arrow Oklahoma along with parts for Dusenbergs

    Like 6
  17. peter havriluk

    Add Stinson Aircraft and Lycoming emgines to Cord’s list of businesses.

    Like 5
  18. CVPantherMember

    I agree with the others, Jeff – great write-up.
    I also agree that this is a real bargain.
    Oh what it would be like to own and drive a Cord.

    Like 6
  19. Doug M

    Small Block Chev, 700-R4 and C4 Corvette IRS in the rear. That would make it a nice driver. C4 front suspension, also.

    I suspect parts for that front drive transaxle are unobtanium.

    Like 1
    • Al Dee

      NO – if the engine needs work – pull it and rebuild it. The parts are available! KEEP this car original as much as possible!

      Like 7
    • Richard B Kirschenbaum

      Bite your tongue Dr. Frankenstein

      Like 3
    • Mountainwoodie

      Criminal!. Like touching up the Mona Lisa to make her prettier!

      Like 5
  20. Keith

    That’s a lot of money for a non-running car. You could almost get the rusted out hulk of a 67-69 Camaro for that much, almost. And it might even have a drivetrain, might. Cord, Airflow and Tucker and maybe the ’41 Continental were in my opinion the most revolutionary designs before the 1950s. Hope whoever gets it has the ability ($$$) to do it justice. Besides, an LS would look lost under that long hood. I have given you grief over calling a ’52 Dodge 4-door a classic. Well, this is a CLASSIC and you didn’t mention it once. Aside from that, great write-up!

    Like 4
    • Louis John Rugani

      Illustrating how far the Hobby has fallen: car-show posters now term jacked-up Novas and Falcons as “classics”.
      Far worse, though, is the all-too-true above claim that some “car hobbyists” may not even know what a Cord is.

      Like 2
  21. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember

    Watch the movie “The Shadow” with Alec Baldwin and Penelope Ann Miller and Tim Curry. There is a Cord 810 used as a taxi. The interesting thing is comparing the differences of the Cord to all the other cars on the street. The Cord made them look so doughty. Even the Packards and Cadillacs.

    Like 5
  22. Tim

    What a great write up! The Cord was a special car and for any car enthusiast, as was mentioned, the ACD festival and museum is a must see.

    Like 3
  23. Rod Cherokee

    These Cords are simply supreme !

    Like 3
  24. Elbert Hubbard

    On October 12, 1940, cowboy-movie star Tom Mix is killed when he loses control of his speeding Cord Phaeton convertible and rolls into a dry wash (now called the Tom Mix Wash) near Florence, Arizona. He was 60 years old.

    Like 3
  25. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    One of the larger collections of Cord 810 & 812 cars was owned by Billy Thompson, the prior owner of White Post Restorations, about an hour south of where this car is located. Billy told me about this car, and how he tried for decades to buy it, but was always told it wasn’t for sale.

    Like 1
    • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember

      Hi Bill,
      How’s your summer been? Besides going by too fast
      End of August already.
      Hope you’re good.

      Like 1
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

        Angel,

        Sent you an email.

        Like 1
  26. Bob Mck

    I so wish I could add this phenomenal rare beauty to our collection.

    Like 0
  27. Bob G.

    I am 86 and have loved the Cord since reading about it as a teenager in the 1950s. When I was 16 a few of us left school during lunch hour to have a bite to eat off campus. We are walking when I see a white convertible parked at the curb in front of somebody’s house. I immediately recognized it as a Cord. It was in terrible shape with ripped seats and faded paint. A hand written For Sale sight was on the windshield. I walked over and checked it out. My friends just figured I was looking at some old car. I was dumbstruck and just kept going with them. The next day I came back to look at it and it was gone. Unfortunately I never checked with the house owners on what happened to it. I hope it found a good home with appreciative owners.

    Like 2
  28. Beignet at the Beach

    Great write up! Wonderful comments! I too have very fond Cord memories. !st was when I was working for Ed Jurist at the Vintage Car Store in Nyack NY. A red, newly restored supercharged convertible was being unloaded for consignment, and at age 17, I was trusted with taking it down to the Hudson river, and photographing it for advertising. I knew how special this car was! More than 10 years later, I was offered the chance to drive a 1937 cord convertible owned by Bill Pettit. When I passed the “how-to-start-it” test, Bill was smiling, he and I tooled out onto roads around Lousia Virgina. He kept insisting I “PUSH IT”… and I will say even though I would GENTLY use the preselector for gear changes, it did PULL through curves as no 1930s rear wheel drive could. I remember it being a bit heavy feeling in the steering, but what a thrill.
    While complex for the time they were built, no competent technician should fear sorting out this offering!

    Like 2
  29. Mark

    35 years ago, Cliff, Mr Yenko had a Cord in his collection.

    Like 0

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