Amelia Island

9 March 2013

Lot 152

1931 Cord L-29 Cabriolet

To be auctioned on Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sold for $407,000

  • Chassis no. 2929758
  • Engine no. FF4653
  • Body no. F-1017
History is important to us, and all lots offered are fully researched. All corresponding information and accessories, from certificates to tool kits, stays with the lots we sell. All of this is held at our library on site, under the Access the Knowledge banner, so please visit us there or contact us before the auction if you require further information.


125 bhp, 298 cu. in. side-valve inline eight-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, three-speed transmission, quarter-elliptic front leaf springs at the front with rear semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 137.5 in.

  • Offered from the collection of Jim Fasnacht
  • Best L-29 at the 2006 Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club National Reunion
  • Restored with exhaustive attention to authenticity and detail
  • ACD Club Certified Category One car with long-term California history
  • Arguably the finest L-29 Cabriolet in the world


Great automobiles are like great people. Some become great loudly, with a great deal of self-congratulation. Others make change happen quietly and gradually, leading the way and patiently waiting for the rest to follow.

The Cord L-29 was one of those gentle leaders. The first major American car to offer front-wheel drive to the public, it came at a time of conservatism in automotive engineering, further deadened by the crushing weight of the Great Depression. Nonetheless, its engineering proved a starting point for those who followed, and who, inspired by it, worked until front-wheel drive was the mass success that it is today. If success is measured not in years of production or volume produced, but, like leadership, in the amount of influence it had on those who followed, the L-29 was the first successful American front-drive production car.

The Cord Front Drive (as the factory always called it) was the namesake of E.L. Cord, who was scarcely 35 when the first examples began rolling out of his Auburn Automobile Company in Auburn, Indiana. Its development was credited to the talented engineer Cornelius Van Ranst, working using some of Indianapolis legend Harry Miller’s front-drive patents, and Auburn Chief Engineer Herbert Snow.

Essentially and simplistically, the idea was to take a rear-wheel drive car and turn everything around. It began with the chassis, which featured an innovative central X-brace to provide extra rigidity and rode on newly designed suspension, designed by Van Ranst and based on de Dion ideas. Brakes were moved inboard, as on the Miller Indy cars. On this rather sophisticated chassis rode a Lycoming straight eight, another fine Cord Corporation product, and it displaced 298 cubic inches and produced 125 horsepower. The engine was reversed so that the crankshaft exited the block at the front of the car and met a three-speed transmission that sat between the front wheels. The relocation of the transmission to the front of the car required an ingeniously long shift lever that extended from the L-29’s dashboard down the length of the engine compartment and ended at the gearbox.

All this was wrapped in Alan Leamy’s beautiful coachwork, which was outstanding for its refreshingly simple beauty. The Cord’s innovative chassis engineering allowed it to stand only five feet tall. Leamy emphasized the lowness with clean, classic lines; long, flowing fenders; a simple radiator shell, painted to blend into the body; and wide beltline moldings that encouraged the use of factory-suggested two-tone color schemes. The interior boasted wide, comfortable seats, facing a fully instrumented dashboard with the distinctive dogleg shifter handle.

The Cord was mechanically genius and stylistically gorgeous. In the Great Depression, genius and beauty oft went unnoticed in favor of more practical matters. Production of the L-29 began in Auburn in late-1929 and wound up in late-1931 with a token run of 1932 models. Only about 5,000 had been made.

This cabriolet is one of the survivors. Certified and authenticated by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club as being an original L-29 Cabriolet, its history includes long-term California ownership by enthusiasts Ernie Mendicki, Bob Morehouse, and William “Chip” Connor. Connor, a noted collector whose cars have won Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, acquired this car in 1983, and following its restoration, it was an award-winner in the special L-29 class at Pebble Beach in 1987.

The car was still beautiful when Jim Fasnacht acquired it in 2002, but, in his words, “age had started to take the bloom off the rose.” As a result, L-29 expert Ken Clark performed chassis, engine, and preliminary bodywork, with paint, top, interior, and finishes performed by LaVine Restorations, of Nappanee, Indiana. The work done was painstaking and exhaustive, with absolutely no detail unresearched, as is proven by the thick stack of documentation, invoices, orders, and e-mails that accompanies the car today.

The car was finished in rich Limousine Maroon with accents of stunning Dark Grey. Against the outstanding mile-deep paint, the L-29’s many chrome accessories, including Woodlite headlamps, chrome wire wheels, and dual side mirrors, present as jewelry. The interior’s light grey upholstery and tan canvas top present as well as when they were installed, and in addition, the entire car is thoroughly detailed to show standards.

Attesting to that excellence, the Cord was returned to Pebble Beach for the second time in 2006, and once again, it was a class award winner. Weeks later, it journeyed to the prairie of Indiana for the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club National Reunion. There, a cadre of the most knowledgeable and finicky L-29 experts examined its every nut and bolt thoroughly, from top to bottom, inside and out. At the end of the weekend, the car was bestowed the E.L. Cord Award for Best L-29, firmly marking it as among the finest of its model in existence.

Jim Fasnacht’s Cabriolet is an example of the most desired factory body style, treasured for decades by enthusiasts and restored by some of the most knowing hands in L-29s, with close attention not only to fit and finish, but also to the absolute authenticity of all components. The result is that it has achieved among restored examples what period advertising claimed that the Cord Front Drive had accomplished among automobiles in general: it has created “a place for itself that no other car has ever occupied.” This quiet leader resides comfortably in the realm of perfection.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

aclassick@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

aabaci@rmauctions.com

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737
Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

dwarrener@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmauctions.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmauctions.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

jboxstrom@rmauctions.com

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

mgirardo@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

rmyers@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

vmandzak@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more