E.L. Cord’s Fascinating 1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet

1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet

Having spent some time with Cord owners during the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Festival in past years (although the Festival was cancelled in 2020), we know there are not many Cord L-29 motorcars left in the world. It is not often that collectors can acquire one that isn’t already known to the collector community. Interestingly, there is now a 1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet that wants to come home from Europe presenting a fresh opportunity to Cord enthusiasts.

An industrialist and car collector in France has posted a 1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet for sale from his collection. (You will find the ad page here on Cars-On-Line.com.) He says it is time to “thin the herd.” This is an unusual opportunity. Most L-29’s which exist here in the U.S. are known to collectors. It is not often that a fresh original L-29 Cord comes on the market. 

In his ad photos you will see the Lycoming Straight 8 motor and the front wheel drive hub. (Follow this link to view the interesting photos he has posted.)  One of the greatest contributions to automotive history was Cord’s innovative use of front wheel drive technology. It uses universal joints that allow the front wheels to turn side to side and receive power from the engine. It is true that the L-29 Cord was the first automobile to use Constant Velocity Joints.

With no drive shaft tunnel and no rear kick-up over the rear axle (no rear wheel drive) the L-29 sat closer to the ground than other cars of the era. This was the look that E.L. Cord himself had in mind when he decided to build an automobile. With his guidance, the 137.5-inch wheelbase L-29 looked exaggeratedly long and low. His body styles included a four-door sedan, a close-coupled brougham, convertible and rumble-seat-cabriolet.

As a result, the 137.5-inch-wheelbase L-29 was sensationally long and low. Body styles comprised four-door sedan, brougham, and convertible, and a rumble-seat cabriolet.
E.L. Cord was able to produce a truly unique American car which was named after him. Its mechanical complexity was not only innovative, but brought us famous automotive designers who are now synonymous with the art deco styling of the 1930’s. The famous race car builder, Harry Miller and Cornelius Van Ranst designed the front wheel drive system. An engineer named John Oswald guided the design of the body. The famous Al Leamy was involved with the look of the radiator grille and many styling tweaks. 

Cords were not only elegant, but often colorful with art deco era paint schemes. They were shown throughout the United States and were very popular in Europe, especially in France where they won numberous awards for design. They were certainly appreciated back home in the U.S. One report states that Cord had already received 3,000 orders by early September 1929. 

Unfortunately, the Cord L-29 cost over $3,000, which was about the cost of a Lincoln, Cadillac or Packard of the day. Since the L-29 was introduced into showrooms just as the Stock Market fell in 1929, the much anticipated interest in the car never developed. The Great Depression made these cars too expensive for the new car buyers of that era. While E.L. Cord’s ideas were genuinely ahead of their time, it was obvious the timing was all wrong.

1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet

Only 4,429 Cord L-29’s were produced from 1929 to 1931, although over 500 more Cord chassis were sold to coachbuilders around the world. They think only about 300 have survived till today. There are probably fewer L-29 Cords in existence than Duesenbergs. 

These cars also came with a complement of gauges, i.e., temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, speedometer, gas gauge, oil level gauge and ammeter.

Later, E.L. Cord brought the model 810 and 812 “Coffin Nosed” Cords to market. Designed by Gordon E. Buerhig, the stylish Cord 810 and 812 had front-wheel drive and could be supercharged. They were sold in 1936 and 1937.

 

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