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1936-1937 Cord 810/812

1937 Cord 812

With losses mounting, Auburn slashed overhead to the bone, transferring all engineering, manufacturing, sales, and administrative functions to Connersville from its Auburn, Indiana home base. Yet even as the company battened down, its engineers were putting the final touches on a new wrinkle for the 1937 Cord 812 line, scheduled to bow in September.

1937 Cord 812 Custom
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Trunkback styling, lush cabin decor, and a 132-inch wheelbase marked the new Custom sedans in the 1937 Cord 812 line.

Actually, it wasn't new at all. Auburn now simply resorted to the image-booster it had been using on its own cars for the past few years, albeit with mixed results. There thus arrived a new performance option intended to attract well-heeled sporty types. It was, of course, a centrifugal supercharger, blowing through a reworked intake manifold and exhaling through flashy, flexible, chrome-plated exhaust pipes emanating from both sides of the hood through chrome-mesh screens.

Built by Schwitzer-Cummins, the blower ran at 24,000 rpm to raise maximum output by a full 45 horsepower to 170, a smashing 36 percent gain. Autocar magazine in England timed a supercharged 812 sedan at just 13.2 seconds in the 0-60 mph test, a full seven seconds faster than its normally aspirated counterpart.

"The acceleration of this machine is tremendous," said the editors. And with a top speed near 110 mph, the blown Cord was one of America's fastest prewar production cars bar none.

1937 supercharged Cord 812 Sportsman
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The supercharge package, here on a 1937 Cord 812 Sportsman, cost $415.

Besides the supercharger package, a $415 extra for all models, 1937 brought a brace of luxury sedans on a stretched, 132-inch wheelbase, a gesture toward the declining "carriage trade." The four-passenger Custom Beverly boasted armchair-style seats, while the limousine-like Custom Berline came with a roll-down division window. Both were distinguished by "bustleback" trunk styling, a higher roofline for extra headroom inside, and special interiors.

At $3,575, the supercharged Berline was the most expensive 1937 Cord. But curiously, Auburn raised prices by as much as $450 on other models, apparently trying to impress those buyers who judged cars by cost alone.

As it declared in a November 1936 Cord advertisement: "Auburn knows that the market for a distinctive, ahead-of-the-times type of car is smaller than the market for ordinary cars. Auburn dares to forsake beaten paths -- dares to depart from the conventional -- dares to take leadership."

Brave words, but the company ultimately wasn't able to live up to its promise. See the next page to follow the Cord story to the end of the model line.

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