Cord L-29 Special Coupe
The fast rise and eventual collapse of E.L. Cord’s massive industrial empire, with the Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg marques at its core, remains one of corporate America’s most fascinating and tragic stories. From his dramatic turnaround of Auburn in the mid-1920s, a textbook case of effective marketing, Cord’s companies manufactured and sold some of the most innovative, stylish and value-rich automobiles ever conceived. Today, all continue to captivate collectors and enthusiasts alike.
By 1927, Cord perceived a niche for a new medium-priced car with innovative engineering and distinctive styling, attributes that were almost mutually exclusive in many car lines. The startling result was the Cord Front Drive, designated L-29. Inspired by Cornelius Van Ranst and Tommy Milton’s front-drive, Miller-powered 1927 Indianapolis 500 car, the L-29 pushed the boundaries of automobile technology, and it remains a milestone. A potential disadvantage, the long drivetrain package necessitated by the L-29’s inline eight-cylinder and front-drive system, became one of the car’s greatest assets when designer Al Leamy sketched one of the longest hoods ever seen.
Introduced in the summer of 1929, the breathtaking new L-29 was offered in a wide variety of factory bodies. Although the devastating stock-market crash of 1929 was just around the corner, L-29 production totaled 5,010 cars versus Cord’s original sales projection of 5,000 units. American and European custom coachbuilders naturally gravitated to the design possibilities offered by the low-slung L-29 chassis, and 43 custom-bodied L-29s were created.
Designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky for Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Hayes Body Company, this “one-off” design statement was conceived and built specifically for international show competition, and today it remains one of the crowning achievements of the Classic Era. The Count, the son of an advisor to Czar Nicholas II, was an automotive enthusiast from his youth. Following the Russian Revolution, he made his way to Paris where he quickly developed an outstanding reputation for his natural design prowess.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2012 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.
125 bhp, 298.6 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, three-speed selective sliding-gear manual transmission, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 137.5"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel