Lot 127

Motor City 2014

1937 Cord 812 Cabriolet


$143,000 USD | Sold

United States Flag | Plymouth, Michigan



Chassis No.
812 2214 F
Engine No.
FB 2505
Body No.
C 92 284
  • Offered from the estate of Harold Allsop
  • Owned for 66 years by an ACD Club charter member
  • Driven and toured all over North America for decades
  • ACD Club Category One certification
  • Accompanied by its original block and a large collection of parts

125 bhp, 288 cu. in. L-head V-8 engine, four-speed manual transmission with Allsop column shift, independent front suspension, rear semi-elliptic suspension with leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 125 in.

Talented engineer Harold Allsop spent 66 years under the hood and behind the wheel of this Cord, the only two-passenger Cabriolet delivered new in Ontario, where it has remained ever since. His trips took him on tours all over North America, often in the company of the friends he made in the tight-knit Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club, which he joined in 1952 as a founding member.

This Cabriolet was the car in which he and his wife, Marion, honeymooned. When asked what had attracted her to young Harold, she replied, “His car, of course.” It was how they took their two children on road trips. (The children rode in the trunk, reading by flashlight and loving it.) It was renowned as one of the most reliable Cords in Canada and the northern U.S.A. It was, and has remained, a part of the family.

Allsop purchased this Cord in 1947, only 10 years after Toronto dealer O’Donnell-Mackie delivered it to its original owner, Brights Winery heir John Bright, of Queenston. Following years at the Brights’ estate, which was known as Willowbank, Bright sold the Cord to a garage in Toronto, where Allsop found and purchased it.

With the Cord’s well-known proclivity for mechanical stubbornness, Allsop set about improving the factory’s work over the years. Parts he repaired on the car were repainted red, so that he would remember what he had worked on and what he hadn’t. It is important to note that early on he resolved not to damage or modify any original part and to retain every part removed from the car so that it would be possible to reverse all of his changes and return the car to stock. A 12-volt electrical system was installed, and most importantly, he replaced the Cord’s trouble-prone control for the vacuum shift with a manual control lever of his own design.

The Allsop mechanism was based on a Hudson unit and is a masterpiece of functional engineering. The gearshift remains vacuum assisted, with the column shifter controlling the original Cord vacuum-shift cylinder. As the lever moves, the vacuum cylinder moves in a synchronous pattern. The lever stops when it is fully in gear, avoiding the original Cord transmission’s problem of slipping too far into a gear and allowing for double-clutching when necessary.

Allsop was incredibly proud that this Cord was never on a trailer. Everywhere it went, it went under its own power. That included several ACD Club Can-Am Meets in Ontario, with the first Canadian ACD meet having been held in the Allsop house, as well as trips “south of the border” to the ACD Festival in Auburn, Indiana. His last journey from Willowdale, Ontario, to Auburn was made in 2005, at the age of 85. He last drove the Cord in 2011 and passed away two years later, after a lifetime of joyous enthusiasm for all things mechanical, which is best displayed in his Cord.

This Cabriolet, offered today by Harold and Marion Allsop’s loving family, is still in incredibly solid condition, as its owner left it, and has been Certified Category One by the ACD Club. Its decades-old black repaint has worn down in places to the original Rich Maroon beneath, and the maroon interior, which was a gift from Marion to Harold, is well-worn from the use of many happy passengers.

Some time ago Harold Allsop replaced the original engine block with another block that was machined to accept a Cord supercharger, as his long-term plan was to supercharge the car. That never happened. The car is still running and driving with that block under the hood; the original matching-numbers block, FB 2243, is in good condition and accompanies the car, along with 13 crates of new and used parts accumulated by the Allsops for the Cord over the years and numerous mementos. Please contact an RM specialist for a complete roster of what accompanies this marvelous Cord.

Today marks a new owner’s chance to continue a grand tradition.