• Cord Westchester

    Cord Westchester.

    Knowing how innovative the cars of Errett Lobban Cord were when they were introduced 80 years ago seems to be unknown to today’s generation of car enthusiast. Cord’s cars were among some of the most influential cars ever built in American history. It is unlikely to find and of Cord’s cars for sale today as they are now very uncommon. It is said that they are sought after cars with collectors as they offered a unique alternative to the more traditional classics built by the ‘Big Three’.

    Born in Missouri, 1894, Errett Lobban Cord grew up to be part promoter and part visionary being a salesman and business tycoon. Cord always tried exceedingly hard to succeed but many a time fell, and fell hard. Eventually Cord became drawn towards the car manufacturing business due to the money making possibilities. In 1924, at 30 years of age, Cord became president of the Auburn Automobile Company, which was founded in 1900. Auburn Automobile Company were always focused on the conservative design of the time but Cord was far more focused on the cosmetics of design. Overnight Auburn Automobile Company were transformed. They now strived themselves on having the best looking cars on the road. Success then started to boom as Auburn’s new cars were now both technical and stylish. For Cord, it did not stop at Auburn Automobile Company, in 1926 he acquired the Duesenberg Motor Company who were founded in 1920.

    The development of Front Wheel Drive was at the heart of Cord. With it being pioneered on the American Championship Racing Car Circuit by Harry Miller, Cord purchased the patent rights for this revolutionary design. Initially Cord was not interested about the mechanical benefit that front wheel drive had to offer the motoring world, but the styling advantages that were now on offer because of it. Although Cord over looked the designing of many of the new Auburns, it was John Oswald that produced the designs. Oswald designed all the lines on the L-29, he had designed it in such a way that the hood line sat a foot lower than its top luxury car competitor. This really made the L-29 stand out from all of its competitors.
    Over 1936 and 1937, several different models were manufactured. 1936 saw the production of the Westchester Sedan, Beverley Sedan, Sportsman and Phaeton, all sharing a wheelbase of 125 inches and seven louvres on the hood side panels. In 1937 there were a few changes, although the Westchester Sedan and Beverley Sedan were left unchanged. Along with the Sportsman and Phaeton, the new Custom Beverly and Custom Berline were manufactured. All four models came with a 132 inch wheel base and 8 louvres on the hood side panels.

    In the museum on the grounds of Beaulieu, you will find a 1936 Cord 810 Westchester. Designed by Gordon Buehrig, the Cord 810 was given the nickname ‘Coffin Nose’, which still gets used today. This nickname was given to the 810 due to its long and upright hood, and its horizontal band of grille and trim. Inside the Cord 810, at both end of the dashboard, two small cranks are visible and these are used to operate the car’s retractable headlights. Another revolutionary design that was incorporating into the Cord 810, along with the front wheel drive, was its concealed door hinges. No other car had ever had this, they all had external door hinges. Under its long hood a 4.7 Lycoming V8, 228.6 ci can be found. The 80 year old V8 pushed out 125bhp at 3500rpm which allows the Cord 810 to achieve a top speed of 102mph.

    1937 saw the Cord 812 being manufactured and sold to the American automobile market. The Cord 812 had the same Lycoming V8 as the Cord 810 but there is a difference, a supercharger. That V8 having a supercharger fitted meant that it could now push out 170bhp at 3500rpm, as oppose to the 125bhp without it. The single unit, all steel body was built by Central Manufacturing Company. 1936 saw 1764 Cords being built and in 1937, 1066, of which around 40% were supercharged. It is estimated there are now only 1800 still intact today. The price of a brand new Cord 810 Westchester Sedan was $1995.00, which is approximately $34,000.00 in today’s money. If a Cord 810 was to be purchased today, they are expected to cost $65,000.00.

    In paying $65,000.00 research would need to be done as the Cords did have some serious issues. Although the Lycoming engines were extremely durable, the front wheel drive was not. ⅛ inch thrust washers were always fitted but the washers were too small. The washer was prone to failing, and in turn caused the gears to jam. Most people who have restored any Cord replaced the ⅛ thrust washer with a ¼ thrust washer and that stopped the problem. Overheating is another major issue the Cords had, the radiator is positioned over the transmission which made it unable to keep the engine cool. Most Cord owners have installed a 6 volt electric fan that is mounted up in the hood so in can draw in as mush cool air as it can. The only other problem that was found on the Cords was the cracking of the front wheels. The cracking was due to the front wheel drive system but was something that Cord rectified in 1937 and is not something a Cord owner would have to worry about now.

    The 1930’s were a hard time for any business, especially automobile companies due to the depression. On December 31st 1931, Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg’s car manufacturing stopped. Luckily, in 1935 Cord returned, and he returned with what has been argued to be one of the most recognisable cars in American history. Unfortunately, in 1937 the Cord enterprise came to an end with all Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg manufacturing being ceased.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. AmericanThunder's Avatar
      AmericanThunder -
      Stunning - I love them even if they are front wheel drive!
    1. sarah's Avatar
      sarah -
      They really are beautiful cars.
    1. an88fiero's Avatar
      an88fiero -
      Absolute beauty