St. John's

27 July 2013

Lot 127

1937 Cord 812 Phaeton

To be auctioned on Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sold for $173,250

  • Chassis no. 812 1546 H
  • Engine no. FB 3258
  • Body no. C 91 425

125 bhp, 288 cu. in. L-head V-8, four-speed pre-selector manual transmission, independent front suspension, rear semi-elliptic suspension with leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 125 in.

  • Beautiful, correct, and fresh show restoration by knowledgeable craftsmen
  • ACD Club Certified Category One
  • National award winner
  • An ideal example of Gordon Buehrig’s landmark design

When “The New Cord” made its debut at the New York Auto Show in November 1935, it turned the automotive world on its ear. Onlookers reportedly stood on the roofs of other cars just to catch a glimpse of Gordon Buehrig’s stunningly advanced, “new, original, and ornamental design for an automobile,” with its aerodynamic “coffin nose” louvered hood, lacking a traditional radiator shell; a “step-down” floor; a unitary body construction; hidden door hinges; pop-up headlamps; and a total lack of running boards. Underneath was no less innovative, with a Lycoming V-8 running the front wheels through a four-speed, electrically-shifted pre-selector transmission, operated by a “key” off the steering column, which was essentially an H-pattern gearshift in miniature.

Orders for the new Cord flooded the manufacturer’s headquarters in Auburn, Indiana, but the car was not quite ready for production. By the time cars finally began to be delivered, many impatient customers had cancelled their orders, and the car that could have saved the Auburn Automobile Company became its death knell. The Cord was built for only two years, 1936 and 1937, with the 1937 model known as the 812. The model has since gone down in history as one of the most beautiful automobiles of its time, regularly displayed in art museums as what Buehrig referred to as a “rolling sculpture.”

The four-passenger Convertible Phaeton offered here represents one of the first four-passenger convertibles to offer a fully disappearing fabric top and rear quarter windows, giving it an unusually sleek and clean appearance. Its former owners include a Mr. Davis, of North Carolina, and long-time Cord enthusiast Jim Ray, from whose estate the car was acquired by its present caretaker several years ago.

The owner endeavored to have the Cord fully and authentically restored by the best, most knowledgeable craftsmen he could find. Accordingly, the majority of the restoration was performed by Bill Auerbach, with the interior done to exact factory specifications by Mark Larder and the beautiful brightwork done by Don Sommer. When new parts were needed, the majority were “NOS” pieces, acquired from the remaining Cord factory parts; it is stock down to the headlamp lenses. Other unavailable parts were recreated from scratch, off originals borrowed from Cord experts in Michigan. The transmission was rebuilt by Cord gearbox guru Lee Foldenauer, and it is reported to function properly, as originally intended.

The car has been Certified Category One by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club, with its original engine, and has won a Primary First Place at their National Reunion in 2011, both important verifiers of the car’s authenticity and correctness. It placed Second in the Cord Cousins Class at the Concours d’Elegance of America that same year, and it was a class award winner at the CCCA Museum Experience at Hickory Corners, Michigan. The car still presents as a fully detailed, pristine show car, having been presented at the Bay Harbor Motoring Festival this year, and it has been driven only 25 miles since completion of the restoration.

For those who seek a Cord 812, one would be hard-pressed to find a nicer, more correctly and artfully restored example than this handsome Phaeton.

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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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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Don Rose

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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

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

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California, United States

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