Feeling Cordial: 1937 Cord Beverly Sedan 812

Let me get this out of the way first. This is no longer a supercharged car. The engine was replaced with a normally aspirated version of the Lycoming V8 engine. Apparently, the engine swap was done before the car was stored over 40 years ago and not completed. Is it not a beauty anyway? It’s a survivor in original condition except the engine. This Cord is listed on eBay for $39,500. The price seems really reasonable for such a rare version of a very rare car.

The Cord is said to be the first car with a horn ring. The short shift lever is to the right of the steering column. The driver selects a gear and steps on the clutch and the transmission shifts into the selected gear. Here is a video on YouTube if you’d like to see a demonstration of how it works. The machined turned dash is a signature feature of the Cord.

The seats and door panels need to be reupholstered. The correct material is included in the sale.

Here’s the 125 HP Lycoming 289 CID V8.  The engine installation might appear a bit confusing because it is mounted backward, with the transmission facing forward. The Schwitzer-Cummins supercharger would have been mounted between the carburetor and the intake manifold. The opening in the heads is where a coolant pipe would connect to the radiator. The distributor is in the center with a copper cap. Spark plugs are not installed so there might be rust in the cylinder bores.

This is a “bussle back” sedan. The trunk was added as an option after buyers complained of a lack of trunk space. The Cord was designed during the depression and has some really unique features. It is front wheel drive so there is no driveshaft tunnel. It could be built very low and does not need running boards. The body is dropped between the frame rails to lower it even more. The hidden headlights are operated by a hand crank. The manual transmission is shifted by a vacuum operated system. The hood opens in what we think of as the conventional direction, hinged at the rear. The holes in the hubcaps are an iconic design feature of the Cord and there’s an interesting story of how they came to be. It is said that the brakes were overheating on a test drive so the engineers had holes drilled in the hubcaps to help dissipate the heat. This Cord appears to be a really nice example at a reasonable price but it needs what could be some very expensive help. It’s tempting to think the car would be a great driver with just a little work, but the work will likely be very expensive. For example, the vacuum controlled gear shifting mechanism is known to be problematic and difficult to repair. Even when this Cord is mechanically restored it may not be a good daily driver. For example, to start the car you just turn the ignition switch on and hold the clutch down but it has to be in neutral. If you forget and park it in gear you have a real problem. Hopefully, the new owner is someone with deep pockets and is either an expert Cord mechanic or access to a good mechanic.

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Comments

  1. Bradshaw from Primer

    was the transmission a Wilson Preselector?

    • SMS

      It was the Electric Hand by Bendix. They offered them on Hudson’s Terraplanes, which is where I have experience with them.

      The transmission is different and so is the linkage. It is easy to use and on the Terraplane they have a hole in the floor to install a stick in case it failed.

      These are lovely cars.

  2. Ken W Nelson

    Very strange presentation – looks like the cyl heads have just been bead-blasted, then placed loosely on the block – lots of empty bolt holes – a new version of “kit car”?? lots of miscell. wiring hanging down from dash – owner must’ve given up or passed away part way thru the project –

  3. hatofpork

    The correct spelling for the trunk design is bustle-back. The appellation was inspired by 19th century ladies’ ballgowns. Nice car-hope it’s a relatively inexpensive recommissioning.

  4. Kenneth Carney

    Dad told me a story about helping an old
    friend of his retrieve one of these after
    buying it in 1950 for $75.00! The one
    they picked up was a convertible and
    was also supercharged. The car was in
    rather sad shape when purchased and
    it took the gentleman that owned it
    many years to restore it. I was 16 when
    he finally finished it. Dad and I went over
    to his house to see it and the sight of
    that car took my breath away! I never
    will forget riding in it or how the engine
    sounded when the supercharger kicked
    in when Mr. Bitner floored it just to test
    his handiwork. I’ll be 64 in August, and
    I can still see that car today. Sure hope
    whoever buys it can get this car restored
    to original condition–no matter how long
    it might take.

    30
  5. Classic Steel

    Hey Jay Leno what’s on your mechanics plate? I think we got something here to fix😎

    I like it but wish the original engine was on in place 😮

    • BTG88

      Jay has one already. You can see it on Youtube in one of his past ‘Jay Leno’s Garage’ episodes.

  6. redwagon

    Absolutely lovely car. Might be worth the asking just to look at it. Seriously, this is automotive art and it deserves to be taken care of and respected.

    One nitpick. When referring to the particular period in time the word “Depression” should be capitalized; similar to “Middle Ages” or “Bronze Age” etc.

  7. Uncle Bob

    A quick look at ebay and you’ll see this is at least the fourth run with three prior no bid auctions, one at an even higher price. Currently offered as well is what appears to be a jump in an drive it, fairly nice 810 looking for $56k (it too has run before with a high bid of $45k, no sale). So for all that these are fascinating cars, as with so many other portions of the overall car hobby, projects are languishing as buyers are apparently opting to be able to use the car, not sit on an immobile unit (perhaps a reflection of their age, they avoid green bananas too). A couple other cars have sold in recent months for less than the price on this one, and were “driver quality” runners.

    One of my fond auto memories is from 1961, I was riding my bicycle down Sherman Way in Canoga Park. Parked in front of Sterdevant’s Auto Parts was a beautiful, black with white top, 812 convertible with Texas plates. When I looked through the window and saw that gorgeous engine turned dash with all the gauges and switches I was in love. Got to be one of the top 5 dash boards of all time.

  8. Karl

    These cars were amazing for not only their time but for all time. This car is definitely stepping into a whole new league for anybody looking to restore it and the price is going to be HIGH. The biggest problem is the non original engine, this little item eliminated 90 percent of the serious collectors and unfortunately because of that the chance of ever coming out ok in a restoration is virtually ZERO! Very sad but true.

  9. David Miraglia

    As Reo Speedwagon said. in my dreams, but wow

  10. Cargirl

    Finding restorers knowledgeable on these types of cars is becoming harder and harder. The old guys that knew the craft have been retiring for quite some time. That said there is still a very good community that supports these cars in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club. The people on that forum are not just knowledgeable but very helpful. Might be a good project for someone that had the love and the mechanical knowledge to do the work themselves. They could certainly find enough support.

  11. Dustin

    Why oh why would you EVER de-supercharge on of these?????

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