1936 Cord 810 Cabriolet
- Formerly of the Bill Pettit collection
- Equipped with its original engine
- Good authenticity and provenance throughout
- An excellent ACD tour and CCCA CARavan car
The debut of the “New Cord” at the November 1935 New York Auto Show is the stuff of legend. Surviving photographs record the joyful madness of crowds piling several people deep, with some onlookers reportedly standing on the roofs of other cars just to catch a glimpse. In an industry where “totally new” is a worn-out catchphrase, the Cord 810 really was. It was designed by Gordon Buehrig and boasted such previously unheard-of advancements as unitary construction, a “step-down” floor, hidden door hinges, a total lack of running boards, and a “coffin nose” without the traditional upright radiator. Underneath, front-wheel drive returned, with the driver shifting a four-speed transmission by pressing a European-style pre-selector switch on the steering column.
Cord ads sang the praises of the new car’s power and handling prowess, as well as its graceful beauty. Buyers responded in droves, but it was all for naught, as production delays and the Depression doomed the Cord after only two short years. Of the four original body styles, the most treasured and sought after is the two-passenger cabriolet, known to many enthusiasts as the “Sportsman.”
The cabriolet offered here is recorded in the late Josh B. Malks’s Cord reference guide, Cord Complete, as having been originally fitted with the same engine and body number it carries today; both the body number and serial number tags on the cowl are original, and the engine number on the serial number tag matches that of the block. Past history includes time in the well-known and highly regarded William A.C. “Bill” Pettit collection in Louisa, Virginia, a well-known stable recognized for its many well-maintained original examples, shown for years in the Pettit Family’s Museum of Motoring Memories. The car was sold in the mid-1990s and made its way to England, where it was owned by the well-known restorer and enthusiast Andy Saunders.
The Cord is finished in the original Cord color Palm Beach Tan, with a dark red leather interior and tan fabric top piped in maroon. It is a well-maintained older restoration, currently recording 75,452 miles at the time of cataloguing. As is proper, the steering wheel is body color, and the surround of the spectacular engine-turned dashboard matches the interior.
A Cord 810 is one of the best Classic road cars imaginable, as well as a joy to drive. This honest example will reward its next owner with the same pleasure and what is arguably the most imaginative and dramatic styling of its era.