Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Lord K's Garage #174: Cord. A New Kind of Motoring

By the end of 1920s, front-wheel drive configuration found its way into one of the most ambitious automotive designs ever.

1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet

The Cord L-29 was revolutionary, using a front-wheel drive system rather than the popular rear-wheel drive configuration. Many believed that having the front wheels be responsible for turning, carrying the bulk of the weight, providing stopping power and for driving were too much. With the rear wheel drive systems, the weight could be dispersed throughout the body to take advantage of weight distributed. Cord wanted to be different and explore the possibilities of a front-wheel configuration.

1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet

1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet by aldenjewell, on Flickr

Errett Lobban Cord was a visionary, promoter, young and intelligent individual when in 1924 he joined the Auburn Automobile Company which was under performing in respects to sales. Cord was able to revitalize sales and by 1926 he was in control of the company. He then began buying up companies such as Duesenberg Motor Company and Lycoming and brought them under the Cord Corporation.

1930 Cord L-29 Sedan

1930 Cord L-29 Sedan by aldenjewell, on Flickr

With control of Duesenberg and Auburn automobiles, the Cord Corporation was positioned for success. What the company lacked was an automobile that could fill the price gap that existed between these two nameplates. The result was a luxury car named after himself, the Cord L-29. The Cord L-29 used a front-wheel drive system. Many people believe Cord used the front-wheel drive configuration because he wanted to exploit the advantages of a low-profile design. Rear-wheel-drive cars sat higher above their driveshafts because the engineers had not figured out how to let the shaft run through the passenger compartment.

Cornelius Van Ranst was tasked as the chief engineer for this unique automobile. John Oswald, a man responsible for many of the Auburn designs, contributed to the L-29. The result was dramatic styling that was attractive and elegant.

1931 Cord Pegasus mascot

By sjb4photos, on Flickr

Under the hood lurked an 299 cubic-inch eight-cylinder Lycoming engine. The 125 horsepower engine could carry the 4600 pound vehicle to a top speed of just 77 mph, a respectable speed but not the fastest vehicle available.

1930 Cord L-29 Phaeton

1930 Cord L-29 Phaeton by aldenjewell, on Flickr

Since it was a front-wheel drive system, the normal mechanical configuration needed rearrangement. The transmission and differential were in the front, ahead of the engine. The hood was very long, a result of having so many mechanical components in the front. The rear suspension used leaf springs and a beam axle while the front used a deDion type solid axle with quarter elliptic leaf springs.

1930 Cord L-29 SpeedsterBy sjb4photos, on Flickr

As was the case in early years of automotive construction, custom coachbuilders were often tasked with providing the bodywork and designs. In 1930 an L-29 with styling courteous of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky was bestowed with prestigious awards at the Monaco Concours d'Elegance.

1931 Cord L-29 Show Car

By sjb4photos, on Flickr

Two months after the introduction of the Cord L-29 the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Just like many other manufacturers during this time, sales plummeted and production was low. To compete, Cord dropped prices in 1930 in an attempt to stimulate sales.

1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet

By sjb4photos, on Flickr

1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet

For 1931 a large engine producing just over 130 horsepower was installed under the hood. Unfortunately, this was not enough and production ceased at the close of 1931.

1931 Cord L-29By sjb4photos, on Flickr

During its production run lasting from 1929 through 1931, fewer than 5,000 total examples were created. In 1930 only 1,873 united were produced. Although production was halted in 1931, there were 157 L-29's dubbed as 1932 models.

1931 Cord L-29 boattail speedster recreation

By sjb4photos, on Flickr

Text: Daniel Vaughan, on Conceptcarz (March 2006)

And more:

1929 Cord L-29

By sjb4photos, on Flickr

1929 Cord L-29

1929 Cord

By sjb4photos, on Flickr

1930 Cord L-29

By sjb4photos, on Flickr

1930 Cord L-29 Sedan Phaeton at Amelia Island 2011

1930 Cord L-29 Sedan Phaeton at Amelia Island 2011 by gswetsky, on Flickr

1930 Cord L-29 Murphy Town Car - fvr

1930 Cord L-29 Murphy Town Car by Rex Gray, on Flickr

1930 Cord L-29 Murphy Town Car - rvr

1931 Cord L-29 Cabriolet

By sjb4photos, on Flickr

Cord L-29 Victoria by Saoutchik

Cord L-29 Victoria by Saoutchik by aldenjewell, on Flickr

Cord L-29 Convertible Sedan by Saoutchik

Cord L-29 Convertible Sedan by Saoutchik by aldenjewell, on Flickr

Cord L-29 Town Car by Saoutchik

Cord L-29 Town Car by Saoutchik by aldenjewell, on Flickr

And even more:

From Conceptcarz L-29 page:

From Supercars L-29 gallery:

Headline photo: by sjb4photos, on Flickr

Views: 2134


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Comment by lord_k on March 10, 2013 at 11:29am

How strange, I covered 810/812 rear-wheel drive derivatives (Graham Hollywood/Hupmobile Skylark) but the original Cord has been left out of my scope. Never mind, I'll fix it.

Comment by Albert M. Bankment on March 10, 2013 at 10:59am

Oh, come now! You surely cannot leave this story hanging. You can't stop at the L-29. You have to cover the 810/812, particularly as you're reading James Leasor. Come on down, Jason Love, your time is now.

Comment by Grant Gardiner on March 9, 2013 at 11:49pm


Comment by David King on March 9, 2013 at 5:02pm

There's always Paypal.  That way, you can put it on a credit card.

They are singularly beautiful cars, though, and I love the original leather on this one.

Comment by Cap'n Tony on March 9, 2013 at 4:20pm

And only $144k!  Do they take checks?

Comment by David King on March 9, 2013 at 1:32pm

And by a curious coincidence, there's one up for sale on eBay at the moment.

Not sure where to find the other one, Cap'n Tony.


Comment by Cap'n Tony on March 8, 2013 at 2:11pm

I'll take two, please.

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