St. John's

27 July 2013

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Lot 127

1937 Cord 812 Phaeton

  • Chassis no. 812 1546 H
  • Engine no. FB 3258
  • Body no. C 91 425

Sold for $173,250

125 bhp, 288 cu. in. L-head V-8, four-speed pre-selector manual transmission, independent front suspension, rear semi-elliptic suspension with leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 125 in.

  • Beautiful, correct, and fresh show restoration by knowledgeable craftsmen
  • ACD Club Certified Category One
  • National award winner
  • An ideal example of Gordon Buehrig’s landmark design

When “The New Cord” made its debut at the New York Auto Show in November 1935, it turned the automotive world on its ear. Onlookers reportedly stood on the roofs of other cars just to catch a glimpse of Gordon Buehrig’s stunningly advanced, “new, original, and ornamental design for an automobile,” with its aerodynamic “coffin nose” louvered hood, lacking a traditional radiator shell; a “step-down” floor; a unitary body construction; hidden door hinges; pop-up headlamps; and a total lack of running boards. Underneath was no less innovative, with a Lycoming V-8 running the front wheels through a four-speed, electrically-shifted pre-selector transmission, operated by a “key” off the steering column, which was essentially an H-pattern gearshift in miniature.

Orders for the new Cord flooded the manufacturer’s headquarters in Auburn, Indiana, but the car was not quite ready for production. By the time cars finally began to be delivered, many impatient customers had cancelled their orders, and the car that could have saved the Auburn Automobile Company became its death knell. The Cord was built for only two years, 1936 and 1937, with the 1937 model known as the 812. The model has since gone down in history as one of the most beautiful automobiles of its time, regularly displayed in art museums as what Buehrig referred to as a “rolling sculpture.”

The four-passenger Convertible Phaeton offered here represents one of the first four-passenger convertibles to offer a fully disappearing fabric top and rear quarter windows, giving it an unusually sleek and clean appearance. Its former owners include a Mr. Davis, of North Carolina, and long-time Cord enthusiast Jim Ray, from whose estate the car was acquired by its present caretaker several years ago.

The owner endeavored to have the Cord fully and authentically restored by the best, most knowledgeable craftsmen he could find. Accordingly, the majority of the restoration was performed by Bill Auerbach, with the interior done to exact factory specifications by Mark Larder and the beautiful brightwork done by Don Sommer. When new parts were needed, the majority were “NOS” pieces, acquired from the remaining Cord factory parts; it is stock down to the headlamp lenses. Other unavailable parts were recreated from scratch, off originals borrowed from Cord experts in Michigan. The transmission was rebuilt by Cord gearbox guru Lee Foldenauer, and it is reported to function properly, as originally intended.

The car has been Certified Category One by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club, with its original engine, and has won a Primary First Place at their National Reunion in 2011, both important verifiers of the car’s authenticity and correctness. It placed Second in the Cord Cousins Class at the Concours d’Elegance of America that same year, and it was a class award winner at the CCCA Museum Experience at Hickory Corners, Michigan. The car still presents as a fully detailed, pristine show car, having been presented at the Bay Harbor Motoring Festival this year, and it has been driven only 25 miles since completion of the restoration.

For those who seek a Cord 812, one would be hard-pressed to find a nicer, more correctly and artfully restored example than this handsome Phaeton.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more