Cord L-29 Boattail Speedster
This was the first American front-wheel drive car to be offered to the public, beating the Ruxton automobile by several months, in 1929. The brainchild of former Miller engineer Carl Van Ranst, its drive system borrowed from the Indianapolis 500-dominating racers, using the same de Dion layout and inboard brakes. This allowed it to be much lower than competing cars. Both stock cars and special bodies built on the Cord chassis by American and European coachbuilders won prizes in contests worldwide.
The engine was a straight eight from Lycoming, another of Cord’s companies, turned around in the chassis so the transmission was at the extreme front. The drum brakes were mounted to the inboard ends of the drive axles, and a long shift rod went up and over the engine. The car was long and low, and production body styles included a five-passenger brougham, a sedan, a cabriolet and a very handsome phaeton sedan. There were, however, various coachbuilt bodies done for L-29 chassis and numerous design studies, many originating at the Walter M. Murphy Company in Pasadena, California.
A particularly distinctive example is the boat-tail “LeGrande” speedster designed by Phil Wright. Wright had left Murphy and was headed to Detroit in search of work when he stopped in Auburn. Auburn Automobile Company president Roy Faulkner found Wright’s sketches intriguing and authorized the construction of a body.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2011 at the Hershey Lodge, Hershey, Pennsylvania.
125 bhp, 298.6 cu. in. inline L-head eight-cylinder engine, three-speed front-drive manual transmission, live front axle with dual quarter-elliptic leaf springs, tubular beam rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 137.5"
Source: RM Auctions; Wikipedia, 2011