Amelia Island

The Ritz-Carlton
10 March 2012
Lot 191

1936 Cord 810 Convertible Phaeton


$104,500 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida



Chassis No.

125 bhp, 288.6 cu. in. Lycoming L-head V-8 engine with four-speed pre-selector transmission, front suspension via trailing arms and transverse leaf spring, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 125"

• CCCA Full Classic; a design and engineering landmark

• Formerly owned by Robert C. Stempel, GM President and CEO

• Advanced front-drive V-8 powertrain with pre-selector transmission

Sometimes known as the “Baby Duesenberg” and produced only for 1936 and 1937 before the ultimate demise of E.L. Cord’s massive automotive and industrial empire, the innovative Cord 810/812 series remains an undisputed collector favorite today. Conceived as the eventual successor to the groundbreaking and handsome but short-lived front-drive Cord L-29 of 1929, the later 810/812 continued to exemplify company president E.L. Cord’s proven formula for sales success: a combination of cutting-edge styling and high performance, all at a surprisingly reasonable price point.

Again fitted with an advanced front-wheel drivetrain, the new 810 offered a V-8 engine from Lycoming, one of Cord’s many companies, mated to an innovative four-speed, electrically-shifted pre-selector transmission. The smooth Gordon Buehrig-designed body was an equally major step forward in automotive design, featuring a blunt louvered “coffin” hood, retractable headlights and the absence of running boards. Its reception at the November 1935 New York Auto Show was enthusiastic, and orders poured in. Alas, production startup was slow, and by the time supply finally caught up with the demand, some customers had changed their minds. Four very attractive body styles were offered, comprising two sedans, namely the Beverly and Westchester, and two open cars, a two-passenger Convertible Coupe and the five-passenger Convertible Phaeton Sedan.

Just slightly more than 2,900 examples of the Cord 810/812 were produced over an 18-month period, prior to the ultimate collapse of E.L. Cord’s automotive operations. Only about 600 of the very attractive Convertible Phaeton Sedans were built during the two-year life of the 810/812 series, making them rare when new and rarer still today. They offer a beguiling combination of landmark styling, exceptional performance and open-air motoring for up to five.

The example offered here was previously owned by the late Mr. Robert C. Stempel, a former President and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors, who was only the second engineer in the corporation’s storied history to become its top executive. A recent inspection of the car confirms that it retains its original engine, as the number stamped on the Lycoming V-8 matches the engine number on the car’s data tag. Recently, the car was selectively refinished, the wheels were repainted, and a new set of wide whitewall tires was fitted. Mechanically, the steering box was overhauled, and the transmission’s electric pre-selector shift mechanism was checked over and serviced for proper operation. A set of Cord’s iconic exhaust pipes and the engine-turned dash panel provide both form and function, and the white-upholstered interior nicely offsets the car’s exterior finish and tan convertible top. This first-year 1936 Cord 810 Convertible Phaeton Sedan is a CCCA Full Classic, and as such it will certainly make an ideal tour or CARavan car. With their seamless pre-selector transmissions, four-speed gearboxes and V-8 power, these Cords offer effortless cruising at modern highway speeds. With its open Convertible Phaeton Sedan bodywork, it also delivers a remarkably enjoyable driving experience, with room for five.