Lot 239

Amelia Island 2019

1931 Cord L-29 Cabriolet


$300,000 - $350,000 USD | Not Sold

United States Flag | Amelia Island, Florida



Serial No.
Chassis No.
Engine No.
FDA 4201
Body No.
  • One of the very finest L-29 cabriolets extant
  • Meticulously restored by L-29 expert Ken Clark
  • Stunning color scheme and presentation; fully sorted mechanically
  • Desirable original larger ‘FF’ engine used only in late-production L-29s
  • Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Club National Best L-29 and Senior Emeritus winner
  • Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) and Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) National Senior First Prize winner
  • Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Club Certified Category 1 (Certification no. CL-120)

Officially introduced in mid-1929 as a 1930 model, the Cord L-29 was the first American-manufactured front-wheel-drive production car. Even though Ruxton also promoted themselves as “America’s first front-drive car,” the first Ruxtons did not arrive until June of 1930. E.L. Cord took great personal interest in developing this new front-drive technology and is believed to be the first to test it on the road. In fact, over the course of its development, E.L. Cord was at times absent from corporate events as he and a mechanic travelling incognito drove a prototype Cord across the country in the hopes of reaching 10,000 test miles.

In addition to being the first model to introduce a technology that over time would forever change the course of the automotive industry, the front-drive system of the Cord L-29 enabled the entire car to be lowered. The sleek styling was appreciated both domestically and abroad, where Cords shown throughout Europe and at French concours d’elegance won 39 awards at 23 different events. Back at home, the L-29 was an instant sales success with 3,000 orders placed by early September 1929.

This exceptional Cord L-29 cabriolet is a desirable example of this pioneering front-wheel-drive Classic, built in February 1931 and equipped with its original, more powerful ‘FF’ engine, a larger 322-cu. in. unit introduced late in L-29 production. The car was acquired by its current owner from the estate of his brother, a fellow L-29 enthusiast who had purchased it in Key West, Florida, in the mid-1980s, and had long planned its authentic restoration. It was a solid and rust-free example, with nearly all of the original wooden body framing intact and the original serial number tag still in place.

Soon the car had been sent to Ken Clark of Ken’s Classics in Pittsfield, Maine, one of the foremost L-29 authenticity authorities in the U.S., whose well-researched cars have won numerous awards in national judging. Beautifully and correctly finished by Mr. Clark down to the last detail, the car received its ACD Club Certification as a Category 1 Original Car. It has been shown extensively with the Club, eventually achieving Senior Emeritus honors and the Alan Leamy Award for Best L-29 at the National Reunion in 2014; it also a Senior car in the AACA and CCCA, and it was a Lion Award winner at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s. Other appearances included the Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance and the CCCA Museum Experience.

Significantly, all of these honors have been received while the car has continued to be regularly proven on the open road, participating regularly in events such as the ACD Festival’s annual Hoosier Tour and the ACD Club Eastern Spring Meet. Its owner takes considerable pride in its roadworthiness and “dialed-in” mechanical condition; it is no mere showpiece, though obviously it has been very successful in that endeavor as well!

This is widely considered one of the finest surviving and best restored L-29 cabriolets in existence. Few have been finished to this standard while also being proven on the road, and fewer still retain as many of their original components as this matching chassis, body, engine example features. Long prized by collectors for their groundbreaking design, L-29s were often spared over the ensuing decades by using whatever parts and components could be sourced from other cars during restoration, making this award-winning example exceedingly rare and highly regarded by both collectors and marque experts alike. It is truly an automobile that has everything the knowledgeable Classic Era enthusiast seeks.