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Homepage. This page: Two American children pose with a sleek Cord 810 sedan of 1936/1937.

1936 Cord 810.

What could be cooler to a young lad in the 1930s, than being driven to school in a Cord 810? I bet the two lads here were jolly impressed when this fine automobile arrived in their street. Did it belong to their father? or perhaps a lucky neighbour? there are no notes on the back of this photo, so we'll never know. In recent years, the magazine titled "American Heritage" voted the Cord 810/812 as "The Single Most Beautiful American Car".
A Cord 810 sedan of 1936
This Cord was registered "A 58875" although I can't make out which state this was in. The front-wheel drive 810 made it's debut at the 1936 New York Auto Show, with crowds of visitors cramming in close to the car to catch a glimpse.
Streamlining was not a concept unique to Cord though during the mid 1930s, as various cars such as the Lincoln Zephyr and Desoto/Chrysler Airflow also demonstrated their designer's ideas of aerodynamic body design. Some of these streamliner designs were more successful than others, in both execution and practicality, and often hid tried & trusted mechanical underpinnings.
The Cord, a brand guided by parent company Auburn, featured some very avant garde coachwork ideas. The headlamps for instance, were hidden and blended into the front wings, revealed by turning a crank from the driver's seat. The car sat low on it's chassis, allowing the designers to bin the fitment of running boards, the occupants easily able to step inside without them. The grille wrapped around from the front section, and down each side of the Cord's lengthy one-piece bonnet. This was at a time when upright grilles and split hinged bonnets were still very much the norm.
Despite amassing a healthy order book at the New York show, deliveries would take some months to filter through to the expectant owners. Early reliability niggles blotted the Cord's copybook - owners loved the style and performance of their 288cu in V8 Lycoming-powered sedans, but were less enamoured by reliability wobbles with the transmission (an electric Bendix pre-selector arrangement). In 1937 the unsold cars were re-badged as 812s, and the option of a supercharged engine was made available, but this didn't halt the slide in both orders and reputation, and production ground to a halt later that year. Four versions of the 810 & 812 were offered, the open-top 4 seater Phaeton and 2 seater Cabriolet, and the closed Westchester and Beverly sedans.
Hupmobile and Graham-Paige attempted to revive production of a re-designed car based on the 810 in 1940, but this led nowhere. Attempts were even made in the 1960s to revive production, based around the running gear of the Chevrolet Corvair, but again this didn't work out and the Cord design was finally laid to rest. Although not a great success financially, the original 810 and 812 Cords quickly found a following amongst enthusiasts who could live with the patchy build quality, wowed as they were by the car's stunning appearance.
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