St. John's

27 July 2013

Lot 133

1931 Cord L-29 Cabriolet

To be auctioned on Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sold for $231,000

  • Chassis no. 2929040
  • Engine no. FD3696A
  • Body no. F-117
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.

  • America’s first major front-wheel drive production car
  • Offered from a prominent private collection
  • ACD Club Certified Category One


When the Cord Front-Drive made its appearance in 1929, it did what few cars before or since have succeeded in doing: it was new and different, in a new and different way. At its debut, the first major American production car with front-wheel drive was easily the most innovative automobile offered to the public in a decade. Yet, it refused to be flashy, with its fascinating engineering concealed under beautiful, simple lines penned by Alan Leamy. In the words of its builder and namesake, E.L. Cord, “We submit it as a simple statement of fact that this car requires no selling to those who can afford it.”

The Cord’s front-wheel drive system, inspired by Harry Miller’s Indy Cars and developed by Cornelius van Ranst, employed a Lycoming straight-eight that was reversed in the chassis so that the transmission was at the extreme front. For simplicity, the drum brakes were mounted to the inboard ends of the drive axles and a long shifter rod traveled up and over the engine, passing through the firewall and into the dashboard. Moving the transmission to the front of the car offered numerous advantages, most notably improving handling and tractability. The lack of a driveshaft tunnel allowed for bodies to be mounted low on the frame, with the result being that the Cord was no taller than a person of average height. Interiors boasted flat floors, allowing for comfortable, spacious seating, even in the two-passenger cabriolet, which, driven by Wade Morton, served as the pace car for the 1930 Indianapolis 500.

The Front-Drive, like so many of the great automobiles of its time, had the bad luck to have been born at the worst possible moment. It was offered to market as the Great Depression’s crushing weight came down on the automobile industry, and production faded away in late 1931. It would be five years before another Cord arrived, and some three decades more before other manufacturers began to realize front-wheel drive’s advantages. The L-29, as enthusiasts have come to know it, has gone down in history as a noble pioneer that offered buyers the future three decades before anyone could afford it.

The Cabriolet offered here was built in July 1930, and it was a late 1930 model that remained unsold as the industry entered 1931; accordingly, the chassis was renumbered by the factory from 2928480 to the present 2929040, explaining the presence of both numbers on the chassis. The car’s history since includes long-term ownership by Louisiana enthusiasts Tom Landers and Bobbie Crump, prior to joining the present owner’s collection, which includes some of the finest Auburn Automobile Company products in existence. The Cord was restored in the late 1990s, and it was issued Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club certification number CL-077, certifying it as a Category One car—an important blessing of originality and authenticity of all major components, as bestowed by those who know these cars best. Showing well in its red and black, with a black leather interior and black canvas top, it is equipped with dual side-mounted spares, chrome wire wheels, driving lights, and dual cowl lights, and it would continue to present well for show with minor freshening; recent work has included the installation of correct cowl light and headlamp lenses and correct interior door handles. In addition, this would be an outstanding touring car suitable for ACD Club events and CCCA CARavans, in which many L-29s have covered thousands of enjoyable miles.

As the company’s own advertising put it, “No car ever built has a greater hold upon its owners than the Cord Front-Drive. The man or woman who has never driven a Cord, regardless of how much other fine car experience they have had, cannot appreciate the difference. The ease of handling, comfort, sense of safety, and the difference in maneuverability of the Cord are a revelation. We invite you to find out, by actually driving a Cord, why owners say ‘It spoils us for any other type of car.’”

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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+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

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+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

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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

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California, USA

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