Cord L-29 Cabriolet

After having rescued Auburn and instructing Fred Duesenberg to build the Model J, E.L. Cord sought a distinctive medium-priced car to add to his growing product line. Unable to find a suitable design to buy, Cord set his engineers to work at creating an all-new car, internally designated “L-29.”

Never one to overlook the opportunity to create a sensation, Cord proposed that the new line adopt front-wheel drive, which enjoyed tremendous success in Harry Miller’s racing cars. Cord contacted Miller and purchased the rights to his front-drive system, which was refined for production by Cornelius Van Ranst, Leon Duray and Tommy Milton.

The L-29 was a breakthrough when announced, with production beginning in June 1929. Its front-wheel drive layout provided a lower ride height, along with a long hood necessitated by the drivetrain length. Al Leamy and his design staff took full advantage of the Front Drive’s distinctive layout, creating some of the most attractive and sporting bodies of the early 1930s in the process. As expected, these advanced and exceptional automobiles captured the imagination of celebrities and the public alike.

When the Cord Front Drive hit the market, hopes were high and aside from the expected teething problems with the Front Drive’s revolutionary drivetrain, the new L-29 was received enthusiastically. All that changed on Black Tuesday, with Cord particularly hard hit by the crisis. New on the market, with no established reputation and equipped with a radical new drivetrain, the L-29 struggled to gain the market recognition that its specifications, styling and aggressively low pricing deserved. As a result, only about 5,010 were produced between 1929 and 1932.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in July of 2010 at the Shotwell Gustafson Pavilion at Meadow Brook Hall, Rochester, Michigan and in March of 2012 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.

125 bhp, 298.6 cu. in. Lycoming inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, live axle front suspension with parallel quarter-elliptic leaf springs, live axle rear suspension with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes, mounted inboard at the front. Wheelbase: 137.5"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

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