1937 Cord 812 SC Convertible Coupe

E. L. Cord was a master salesman who acquired Auburn in 1928 after saving it from bankruptcy by unloading about 700 sedans languishing on the lot. He spiffed up the orphans with bright paint schemes and applied his considerable sales talent to move them. His reward was the company, which he revitalized.

In 1929 he took Auburn to the next step, introducing the front-wheel-drive Cord L-29 with low-slung sporting styling. He also bought Duesenberg and Lycoming engines to add to his portfolio of 156 transportation-related companies. He tied them all together with his holding company, the Chicago-based Cord Corporation.

In the early ’30s a product intended to be a “Baby Duesenberg” became the basis for a new medium-priced front-wheel drive car, the Cord 810. The 810 was intended to restore Auburn to health with style, performance, and reasonable cost. Gordon Buehrig’s clean, coffin-nosed, retractable-headlight design was a sensation at its 1935 New York Auto Show debut, but Cord was in dire financial trouble, and while orders poured in, the first deliveries were not until mid-1936.

The 1937 Cord 812s were little changed except for the supercharger option, which brought horsepower up to 190 and gave the car one of the best power-to-weight ratios in the market. Approximately 195, some sources claim 225, of the attractive convertible coupes were built in 1936-37. About 64 of the 1937 convertible coupes were supercharged.

This Cord 812 SC Convertible Coupe was restored from the ground up in the mid-1980s and received the Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Club Level 1 Certification as a correct and original Cord. In the late ’80s it went overseas to an important collection and returned to the U.S. in January 2005. While it was restored 20 years ago, it is still an impressive example that looks quite fresh.

John Apen

John Apen - SCM Contributor

John holds degrees in engineering and operations research from the University of California-Berkeley, New York University, and Johns Hopkins. He vintage raced a Ferrari TdF for 13 years and has been restoring old cars for nearly 50 years. He owned the Atlanta Ferrari-Maserati dealership, FAF, for 17 years. He’s always had an affinity for obscure American cars, and in high school, he drove a 1936 Packard convertible coupe, followed by a 1949 Olds Holiday hardtop that got him through college. Today his garage includes 11 cars, including a Top Flight 1960 Corvette he’s owned since day one, a 1957 T-Bird, and several vintage Ferraris. His automotive library contains over 5,000 magazines and books and 1,800 auction catalogs. He has contributed to SCM since 1996.

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