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From the Archives: 1930 Cord L-29 Brougham

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In 1929, the race to make a feasible, mass produced front-wheel-drive car had been won by the Cord L-29 as it beat out the Ruxton. Front-wheel-drive vehicles had proven successful in the racing industry as Harry Miller designed one that would finish second place in the 1925 Indianapolis 500. Miller was an adviser and helped in the design of the L-29 which would serve as an intermediate option to the Auburn and Duesenberg. The L-29 featured X-framed bracing, a lower center of gravity and a lighter rear axle which would allow for better maneuvering. Powered by a Lycoming straight-eight 298.6 cubic inches, the Cord could reach 80 MPH, but it would take a while to get there with a shipping weight that was listed at 4,620 pounds – bulkier than other straight-eight powered cars of that era such as Packard and Pierce Arrow. The original factory price was listed at $3,095.

This 1930 Cord appeared in the December 1977 issue of Hemmings Motor News. From the seller’s description:

From a private collection, only 9 known to be left in the world. This beautiful Cord has had ground-up complete restoration, 2 years in progress. Has never been shown but could be a National show winner. $32,000.

The number of Broughams existing today according to Special Interest Autos issue #103 (February 1988) is no more than six. One of the three lost since the 1977 Hemmings ad placement was burned in a shop fire when the car was brought in for service and repairs. The 1977 asking price would equate to about $125,000 today. Values would be hard to compute today, but would no doubt eclipse the $100,000 barrier for a clean and well maintained example.

The Cord would have many obstacles after the L-29 was introduced. The horrible timing of the stock market crash occurring two months after its introduction was a huge misfortune for the marque, but was also a problem for the industry as a whole, especially the more upscale automobiles. Lack of name brand recognition might have been the largest obstacle of all when put up against well-known established competitors such as Cadillac, Imperial and Packard. The L-29 would limp on with over 5,000 cars produced in four years with the company shutting down production on New Year’s Eve of 1931. The last L-29s would be sold as 1932 model years. Cord would be back however in 1936 with the 810 and 812. The artful design of these classics are still marveled by enthusiasts to this day, plus the engineering feats and contributions implemented by Cord cannot be ignored.