Amelia Island

The Ritz-Carlton
9 March 2013
Lot 179

1937 Cord 812 Phaeton

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$220,000 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida

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Chassis No.
812 1933H
Engine No.
FB 2578
Body No.
C 91 549
  • Iconic front-wheel drive American classic
  • Classic colors
  • Well-maintained restoration

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

The 810 was E.L. Cord’s second attempt at a front-wheel drive automobile. Its engine was a V-8, also by Lycoming, but a four-speed electrically-shifted pre-selector transmission was used. The body, designed by Gordon Buehrig, was a thing of beauty. Its blunt, louvered hood gave rise to the nickname “coffin nose,” always as a term of endearment, and such features as a “step-down” floor, unitary construction, hidden door hinges, and a total lack of running boards were all previously unheard-of.

The car’s reception at the November 1935 New York Auto Show was enthusiastic, with onlookers reportedly standing on the roofs of other cars just to catch a glimpse, and the orders poured in. Alas, production start-up for the advanced and complex design was slow, and by the time supply caught up with demand, some customers had changed their minds.

Four body styles were offered, two sedans and two open cars. The phaeton offered a back seat for two and was one of the first four-passenger convertibles to feature a fully disappearing top and rear quarter windows. The result was a car that had a very sleek, clean appearance when opened to the wind and sun.

Cords for 1937 were designated 812, although there were few changes, aside from an optional supercharger. The 812 was the final car to remain in production in the E.L. Cord empire. Cord sold his interests that August, and new management immediately halted the lines. The tooling for Buehrig’s beautiful bodies was later used by Hupp and Graham, as an ultimately futile attempt to continue in the car business. The 810/812 has remained a legend, in part thanks to display at many of the world’s leading museums as an object of automotive art.

The phaeton shown here retains its original engine and has been converted to the appearance of a supercharged model with the addition of side exhaust, giving it an additional sporty flair. Formerly owned for many years by the late Orville Kottmann, of Florissant, Missouri, it wears an older restoration in the correct colors of Rich Maroon with a tan interior and top, and it remains in well-maintained, excellent overall condition. It has continued to be well-cared-for by its knowledgeable present East Coast owner, as the most recent of the five Cords that have passed through his ownership over the years. This is a Cord that can be shown or driven with equal pride.