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1937 Cord 812 “Sportsman” Convertible Coupe

1937 Cord 812 “Sportsman” Convertible Coupe


In 1929, industrialist E.L. Cord introduced the mighty Duesenberg Model J, advertised as “The World’s Finest Motorcar.” But he also showcased a new car, a test-bed for radically new automotive innovations, much like Preston Tucker would do 20 years later. This was the Cord L-29, the first front-wheel-drive car sold to the American public. Its long, low, sleek appearance was popular for its styling and superb handling, but it was only a start. For four years, he collaborated with his engineers and designers, including Duesenberg styling genius Gordon Buehrig. Features for the new car included a preselector transmission (later used in the Tucker), hidden fuel-filler door, independent front suspension, no running boards, pontoon fenders, disappearing headlights, radio, variable-speed windshield wipers, and a wrap-around chrome grill. The most trend-setting American car in history, the Cord 810, was born. Many of its design innovations would not become standard on other makes for decades.

Introduced in late-1935 at the New York Auto Show, the 810 created a sensation. Crowds around it were so deep that people were forced to stand on other display cars just to get a glimpse. Deliveries began in 1936, but the Depression finally caught up to the Cord empire, and 1937 was to be the final model year. During this time, the cars (now designated Model 812) were available for the first and only time with an optional supercharger, which boosted power to almost 200 hp. The supercharged cars could also be fitted with magnificent outside exhaust pipes, giving the car its most iconic look. At the height of the Depression, sadly, few could afford this luxury.

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