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1936-1937 Cord 810/812

The End of the Cord 810/812

In the face of that year's staggering $1.5 million loss, the end of the Cord 810/812 was near. Despite rumors to the contrary, often started by the company itself to bolster public confidence, there would be no 1937 Auburns. Instead, the firm would concentrate solely on Cord production. From a financial standpoint, it needn't have bothered.

1937 Cord 812 Westchester sedan
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Few closed cars have stood the test of time so well as the Gordon Buehrig-designed 1937 Cord 812 Westchester sedan.

Never high to begin with, Cord sales tapered off through August 1937. Then Auburn called it quits. In all, just 2,320 of the 810/812 models were built. It was a sad end for what was heralded as "a totally new interpretation of the function of the motorcar."

Auburn's waning months brought various schemes to stave off the inevitable, but all came to naught. Buehrig, all too conscious of the firm's terminal condition, had left in the summer of 1936. Taking his place on the small design staff was Alex Tremulis, who would go on to style the postwar Tucker.

Chiefly responsible for the 1937 long sedans and external exhaust setup, Tremulis had the misfortune of working on the experimental "Au-Du-Cords," horrible combinations of surplus body parts and Cord mechanicals, cobbled up in the vain hope of an Auburn revival for 1938.

A Cord "814" was also in the works, basically the 810/812 with outward-slanting hood and a more rounded transmission cover. It, too, was left stillborn when Auburn filed for bankruptcy in December 1937.

1937 Cord Supercharged 812 Sportsman
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
This 1937 Cord Supercharged 812 Sportsman bears a factory-installed four-pipe exhaust system instead of the usual two pipes per side.

But the Cord had left its mark. Amazingly, Buehrig's basic design was soon resurrected for the rear-drive Hupp Skylark and Graham Hollywood, where it survived through 1940.

Perhaps the most fitting tribute ever paid the Cord 810/812 came from New York City's Museum of Modern Art, which staged a special exhibit in 1951, simply titled "Eight Automobiles." Included were a 1941 Lincoln Continental, a 1937 Talbot-Lago, the Pinin Farina-designed 1946 Cisitalia, a 1938 Bentley, a World War II military Jeep -- and a 1937 Cord 812. Declared MOMA curator Arthur Drexler: "We regard the Cord as the outstanding American contribution to automobile design."

A lot of people still agree. Greatness may not always be good business, but it almost always endures.

See the next page to find specifications and production information for the 1936-1937 Cord 810/812.

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