The world-famous Cord brand is now up for grabs. It has been the name of famous automobiles in the 1930s, and some sorry looking replicas in the years after. It will be on sale this week in Auburn, Indiana.
Errett Lobban Cord became head of the ailing Auburn Automobile Company in Auburn, Indiana, USA in 1924. Before that, he had worked as a mechanic, a race driver and a superstar car salesman. Now he got his chance to run a car company. There was a large stock of unsold cars at that time, and being a salesman, Cord knew that presentation of the product was paramount. So he let all the cars be resprayed, fitted some bright trim on them and off they went, they sold like crazy.
Once that problem was solved, Cord started designing cars. The result of his hard labour were some of the most iconic automobiles the world has ever seen. In 1929 he introduced the Cord L29, the first American car with front-wheel drive to be on the market. After that came the Duesenberg Model J, the Auburn Twelve and in 1936 he presented the astonishing Cord 810 and 812.
But that was it. By 1937 the great depression finally caught up with Cord. The production of the magnificent Cord 810/812 stopped and E.L. Cord bailed out by selling all his automotive enterprises. It did not depress him though, he moved to Los Angeles and started dabbling in real estate. In the 1940s he started several radio stations in California and Nevada. In 1974 he passed away, 79 years old.
Parts in stock
But what happened tot he car company that he had left behind? That was bought by a Buick-dealer from Flint, Michigan, by the name of Dallas Winslow. From the original building in Auburn, Indiana, he sold parts and service. And there were still a lot of parts in stock.
In 1960 Winslow sold the business to an auto mechanics high school teacher from Oklahoma, named Glenn Pray. He continued the parts business, selling them to Cord-enthusiasts and collectors. But Pray had bigger plans, he actually wanted to revive the brand.
Replica or second generation
So he managed to recreate the latest model Cord. It used a Chevrolet Corvair drivetrain and had front-wheel drive. The body – there was only a convertible available – was made of a composite material named ‘Royalite’. But the most distinctive feature of this car was that it was built at 80% of the original size. Hence the model name ‘Cord Sportsman 8/10’. Glenn Pray himself would not call his car a replica, but he would call it the ‘second generation’ of Cord cars. All-in-all 97 of these cars were built, six of them being prototypes. After that, Glenn Pray moved to the production of Auburn replicas. Sorry… second generations. In 1968 a company named Samco acquired the production rights for the car and produced it, based on a 1980s Oldsmobile Cutlass drivetrain. There have also been Cord-replicas on Oldsmobile Toronado-drivetrains later on.
When Glenn Pray bought the old ACD Company in 1960, all three brands were still there. Later on, he sold the Duesenberg-trademark for a million dollars and Auburn for half of that. But he would not part with the Cord trademark, he kept that until he passed away in 2011.
His family later decided they would sell the Cord trademark in 2014. They were bought by oil industry consultant Craig Corbell. He announced his big plans with the brand in 2016, wanting to revive the famous Cord cars again. This was made possible by the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015. This legislation permits manufacturers in the USA to produce replica-cars without having to go through the same certification and testing process that normal car builders would have to go through.
In 2017 the plans for the Cord Revival wer unveiled. This was to be a three-wheeled car with the famous Cord 810 front, but only one wheel in the rear, driven by a motorcycle engine.
It is unclear what happened tot he plans fort he Cord Revival, but Mr Corbell’s company seems to be the one selling the Cord trademark now.
It will be on sale on August 30 at Auburn, Indiana, with World Wide Auctioneers. The Cord Trademark is to be sold without reserve. The trademark, licensing and manufacturing rights gives the purchaser the right to produce cars and parts under the Cord name, but also clothing, apparel, models and toys.