“The” Langford Cord – 1937 Cord 812 Convertible

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If you know the story of Jane Mansfield’s horrible end in a car that submarined under a truck in 1967, you know that many lives have been saved by the laws passed after her death requiring car-level bumpers on heavy trucks and trailers. Today’s feature car, a 1937 Cord 812 Sportsman Convertible Coupe once owned by singer Frances Langford (“I’m in the Mood for Love”), factors into a similar tale. Thankfully Langford survived her close call when her Cord’s rear axle collapsed, urging Cord to redesign the axle with the “Langford Modification.” So goes the story in the post for the Lacey, Washington classic here on craigslist, where the elegant and “historically significant” automobile can be yours for $140,000. Thanks to reader Ikey H. for spotting this high-end classic.

Though once described as yellow, the drop-top Cord today wears a color that I can only hope is primer to be covered with a lighter factory hue. Sadly I fear it’s meant to be a top-coat. Nevertheless one’s first encounter with a Cord typically involves a giddiness upon recognizing design and engineering elements like hidden headlamps and front-wheel-drive, decades ahead of their time. The article cited above also mentions visible exhaust pipes, a feature of supercharged Cords, while this car wears no blower or external pipes. Perhaps our Cord experts can share their thoughts in the comments below.

Apart from interesting and innovative technology, Cords are prized for their beauty. Any suggestion favoring another car’s body as more luxurious-looking among its contemporaries would only owe to differences in taste.

The engine-turned dashboard gleams, presenting the driver (and passenger) with an array of information. Note the jewel-like shift lever (four-speed with overdrive!) on the oversized chrome stalk, another splendid meld of design and engineering.

The 289 cid (4.7L) Lycoming V8 makes 125 HP, and supercharged versions made 175 (thanks to wikipedia.org for some details). Here we see what might be the original color, pleasant relief if your eyes are stinging from Pumpkin Overload. Personally I’d have offered the 72,000 mile car *before* the paint job, but you can’t un-ring that bell. NADA puts “high retail” above $200,000. If the provenance checks out, buyers would need to balance the “historical significance” against the work that clearly remains on this beauty. I’d love to see this one in public some day! Do you think this is Frances Langford’s Cord?

Auctions Ending Soon

Comments

  1. Jim ODonnell

    Hi Todd!

    I was the GM of a trucking company for about a year or so and to your point about truck bumper regulations, the lower bumper, or step, on the back of a truck trailer is known, colloquially, as a “Mansfield Bar”. Its existence is the result of regulations brought about after Mansfield’s horrific accident.

    Like 13
  2. Nick P

    I don the know much about cords, but this doesn’t look like the same car in the old photo. The old one has quarter windows. The pumpkin doesn’t.

    Like 27
    • Solosolo UK ken tillyUKMember

      Good catch Nick P

      Like 6
      • Brent

        Me thinks the one pictured with Langford is a Phantom ( with a back seat) and this one is a 2 seater.
        Good eyeballs Nick P !!
        Lookin like someones tellin stories.

        Like 15
  3. KEVIN TRIPLETT

    Frances Langford’s car was reportedly painted in a color that Cord called “Cigarette Cream” which could be anything from ivory to yellow, with a maroon interior. Whatever, as noted by others the photo of Ms Langford appears to be a phaeton body style (rear seat) while the car for sale is a coupe.

    Like 12
  4. A.J.

    This car is a cabriolet which is more desirable than the more common 5 seater phaeton with the quarter window.

    That said, asking price is unrealistic in today’s market.

    Like 11
    • Will Fox

      Especially since it’s a non-original color, and unfinished. As is? Maybe $85K-$90K. At most.

      Like 4
      • ronn

        you get any color you liked for an upcharge of 125.

        Like 0
      • A.J.

        Ron, could you point me to where I could find documentation for that? Does the ACD club have something documenting any color for an up charge?

        Like 1
    • Little_Cars

      Technically known as the Sportsman, not cabriolet. Far more unusual to see one. I built an AMT model of a Sportsman 45 years ago in 1/16th scale.

      Like 1
      • A.J.

        The “Sportsman” moniker came from an advertisement where they referred to the car as one for a Sportsman. The factory never used that term and the correct model name is “cabriolet”.

        Like 0
  5. Jeff

    Whomever inherited this car must be in a financial conundrum, first for listing such a vehicle on Craigslist and second for being too lazy to unpack the menagerie of parts tossed into it before posting pictures and a YouTube video.

    When lowball offers become overwhelming maybe they will spend a half hour or so cleaning there poor stepchild up.

    Like 11
    • B

      A few or a lot more photos won’t stop people from “low-balling.” For an intelligent and serious buyer, online photos are only good for figuring if it’s worth inspecting in person. He who buys online on the basis of photos has no one but himself to blame.

      Like 3
  6. MTshootist 1

    I have a friend up here in Montana who built a 37 Beverley Cord out of a pile of junk. He’s a hell of a mechanic and machinist. The weak part of these is the transmission and linkage. According to my friend they failed on a regular basis. Last time I talked to him he had the engine out replacing the main bearings it is the supercharged version. It’ll run 80 down the interstate. Consistently

    Like 3
  7. grant

    All three of her kids were in the car.

    Like 3
    • Solosolo UK ken tillyUKMember

      Wasn’t Jayne decapitated in the accident?

      Like 1
    • Ken

      Jayne Mansfield was not decapitated in the accident. From Snopes.com:

      “Although Mansfield’s actual mode of death was gruesome, she was not beheaded. According to the police report on the accident, “the upper portion of this white female’s head was severed.” Her death certificate notes a “crushed skull with avulsion (forcible separation or detachment) of cranium and brain.” One thinks of a beheading as the neck’s being sliced through, causing the head to be separated from the body, but that is clearly not what happened here. Scalping is perhaps a closer description of Mansfield’s fate, but even that word does not accurately reflect the cranial trauma she suffered, because scalping victims at least retain an intact skull. The Angel of Death did not afford Mansfield this luxury: Her skull was cracked or sliced open, and a sizeable piece of it was carried away.”

      Like 3
    • Brakeservo

      One could be a slight bit insensitive and think of the Beatles “She blew her mind out in a car . . .’

      Like 0
  8. Will Fox

    And currently stars as detective Olivia Benson on “Law and Order SVU”.

    Like 9
  9. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    D.O.T bar, that’s what the rear bar on the trucks I drove were referred as. Mansfield bar is a term I had never heard, but it makes sense.
    God bless America

    Like 6
  10. Rallyace

    If this is such a historically significant car, why is it being sold on Craigslist?

    Like 3
  11. Charles Mann

    That color is awful.

    Like 3
  12. ArchitectureOnWheels

    It’s troubling to see the amateur attempted recommissions such as this on historical and iconic cars. An interesting listing none the less. Anyone venturing into this endeavor, will have hopefully have done their homework and offer a realistic bid, considering the effort and expense to correct many of the maladies illustrated herein. What’s it worth.? We’ll see….

    Like 0
  13. Dave Rhodes

    something to be said for the old styles and I don’t mean the car

    Like 1
  14. Jon G

    Cool shifter!

    Like 1
    • Ken

      Hudsons and Terraplanes could be had with a similar device called “The Electric Hand.” Some people called it the ghost shifter because as the driver changed gears, the floor shifter did so unassisted.

      https://jalopnik.com/one-of-the-first-automatic-transmissions-had-a-creepy-n-1798613772

      Like 3
    • Bass Player Mike MikeMember

      It’s what’s commonly referred to as a “pre-selector” rather than a shifter, wherein you choose your next gear and then depress a pedal on the floor to complete the gear change…I got to go for a ride in a Cord a couple of years ago, and it was definitely a thing of beauty… The suicide doors in front are cool as well, just an incredible design all around

      Like 2
      • Solosolo UK ken tillyUKMember

        Back in the mid sixties I used to drive AEC 56 seater buses where they were fitted with “pre-selector” gearboxes. There was a tiny lever on the steering column to select the next gear and once selected all I had to do was depress the clutch pedal, release it, and Bingo, it was in the next gear.

        Like 1
      • Brakeservo

        And I had an old Armstrong Coupe Utility with a very similar Wilson Pre-Selector gearbox. Somewhat similar to the French Cotal transmission.

        Like 0
      • Little_Cars

        Coital transmission? That’s one way to get a bad infection.

        Similar to @Brakeservo I had a chance to drive a British Riley with a pre-selector gearbox. A friend was able to, though. Said it was a bit fussy and not at all something anybody 50 years of age or older would want to have in today’s modern superhighways.

        Like 0
  15. luke arnott

    In the UK they are known as ‘Under Run Bars’.I remember Mansfield’s accident – there was a particularly bad taste joke about it at the time(1968?) – glad I don’t recall it all these years later.Do remember her in ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’,with Edmond O’Brien singing the title song!

    Like 2
  16. Little_Cars

    Standard Cord shift lever. This is the first I’ve heard of the Electric Hand. I could make an off-color remark about the Electric Hand being sold in seedy retail establishments but I will leave it at that. Great write up!

    Like 0
    • Dave

      Didn’t Howard Wolowicz have a problem with an electric hand in a Big Bang episode?

      Like 1
      • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

        Robotic arm & hand. That was funny.
        God bless America

        Like 1
  17. Top Jimmy

    I do love Cords and Auburns but I’ll never have a quarter mill to buy and restore one like this. The fwd and wheels (and a few other subtle items) make me think of my Dad’s 1967 Olds Toronado. He would never buy a “first model year” car and always bought his cars “loaded up”. Wonder if a Toro will ever bring $200000?

    Like 0
  18. luke arnott

    I’ve got a 1966 Toro.Will take $30,000?

    Like 1
  19. Brakeservo

    Re: Little_Cars – The Pre-Selector gearbox was fine. I was above 60 years old when I drove it all over the L.A. freeway system and then up Interstate 5 back to Portland. Actually easier than the four speed “crash-box” transmissions I am used to in early 1950s Ferrari competition cars or Bentleys of the 1920s. I’m afraid your comment just made no sense.

    Like 2
  20. luke arnott

    I had a Riley 9 Kestrel with a pre selector box – no problem once you got used to it(.Daimler used something similar,a Fluid Flywheel it was called).A friend had a Riley Monaco with a crash box,and that was AWFUL!

    Like 0
  21. Little_Cars

    @brakeservo The fellow in our Brit club has a Kestrel and two other Rileys. Unrestored, so perhaps the slow neighborhood drive my friend did wasn’t indicative of how one could perform as a new car. In fact, this fellow is proud of the fact his Riley’s are in presentable, but unrestored, condition.

    Like 0
  22. RONN

    AJ,
    it is in Josh Malks book page 121- “the timeless classic”

    it was in a memo. remember, cord was folding fast and they were trying to save the company. so they went out of their way to make sales.
    so yes, special colors and apholstery could be ordered.

    Like 0
  23. A.J.

    Thanks! I have the book so I’ll need to go find that page.

    A.J.

    Like 0

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