If you’re not familiar with the Cord 810 and 812, be prepared to have plenty of expectations challenged. That’s because this 1930s front-engined, front-wheel drive luxury machine entered history as one of the most beautiful American automobiles of all time, with its splendor being backed by tech solutions that were decades ahead of their time. So you can imagine our excitement when we came across this 1937 Cord 812, a highly original example that’s currently enjoying a comprehensive restoration and then some.
Looking past the elegant shape of the machine, with its low-slung profile and its coffin-style front end, we have to mention that the Cord was the first production vehicle with pop-up headlights (these were repurposed airplane lights)—this muscle car enthusiast brewed his own hidden headlights for a 1972 Chevy Chevelle, causing a stir in the community.
It was also the first car to keep the fuel filler cap under a door and pack a horn ring rather than a button, as well as being the first American automobile to mix an FWD configuration with independent suspension.
All of the above meant that the Cord 810 and its 812 evolution would match their stunning exterior and cabin with the kind of refined and even sporty driving experience that wouldn’t become mainstream until decades later.
And while those aesthetic traits and pioneering tech features were enough to attract tons of buyers following the 1935 New York Auto show, the lack of proper funding and a rushed development process meant the model was plagued by mechanical failures—especially with the semi-automatic four-speed transmission—as well as electrical issues.
As such, the vehicle, which was conceived as a baby Duessenberg (Cord and Duessenberg were both owned by Auburn), was far from a commercial success. Only 2,972 units of the 810 and 812 were built in 1936 and 1937.
This 1937 Cord 812 was one of the most expensive of the lot, as we’re dealing with a Custom Berline aka Westchester that featured an extended wheelbase—while the already pricey “base” model cost $2,445 back in the day, this would’ve set you back $3,060. In today’s money, that would be $64,275, but that number is irrelevant. That’s because pristine-conditions Cords of the sort are six-figure offerings in the collector market.
A highly original example that moves under its own power
The vehicle was adopted by a Washington-based collector named Chase (aka schule388) back in January. The car, which comes with just 22,000 miles, had been stored indoors in California since 1955, which explains its good condition.
As mentioned in the title, we’re looking at a survivor that “runs and moves, just needs some brake work, and probably little things,”. In fact, you can hear that 4,739 cc (289 ci) Lycoming V8 in the third slide of the Instagram post below.
Now, while this flathead V8 was a dedicated motor, Cord also offered a supercharged version, identifiable thanks to the chrome exhaust pipes flanking the hood and the grille. And Chase seems to have already secured the parts needed to supercharge this motor, which will bring the power from 125 hp to at least 170 hp.
This sort of shenanigan appears to be normal within the hermetical Cord circles. For one, Jay Leno’s 1937 Cord 812 features the said exhaust pipes without the blower—and while a new season of Jay Leno’s Garage just came out, the famous collector will gladly tell you all about his Cord in the old YouTube video below.