|1930 Cord - Model L-29 2 Door Convertible Phaeton
The Cord L-29 was the first American front-wheel drive automobile to be offered to the public, beating the Ruxton Automobile
by only several months.
In the autumn of 1926 E.L. Cord awash with his success in reviving the Auburn Automobile Company embarked on the design
of a new and revolutionary automobile. Cord acquired the passenger car patent and manufacturing rights to the front wheel
drive designs of Harry Miller. Automobile engineer Cornelius W. Van Ranst was retained to collaborate with Miller on the
mechanical design of what would become the Cord L29.
The front wheel drive running chassis was powered by a 298 cubic inch Lycoming straight-eight engine that produced 115
horsepower. The front wheel drive design required that the final drive and transmission be placed in front of the engine. This
meant the engine had to be turned around so that the flywheel, clutch, and chain drive faced forward, with the crankshaft
extended at the forward end to take the flywheel. A three-speed transmission was incorporated between the clutch and the
final drive, with each of the drive shafts powering the front wheels that were equipped with constant-velocity joints to allow for
suspension movement and steering operation.
The long straight-eight engine extended by the upfront transmission and final drive required that the L-29 have a lengthy
wheelbase of 137-1/2 inches. The absence of a transmission tunnel gave passengers more leg room and allowed for a step
down floor. These factors gave the car an attractive sleek and low appearance — the L-29 was a real looker, no matter what
body was fitted to the chassis.
Cord realizing that his new car had to have a stunning body, retained Alan H. Leamy, Duesenburg Model J Stylist to design
the new car, that was available in four body styles, sedan, cabriolet, phaeton and brougham. Prices of the new Cord
automobile ranged from $3,095 to $3,295. The Great Depression all but obliterated sales of the L-29. By 1931, 31 months
after the first L-29 left the assembly line sales had come to a halt with only a little more than 5,000 units having been sold.
During this same period of time Gordon Buehrig began to design what would become the Cord model 810 and 812. The
company was barely surviving financially when a contract was landed with Montgomery-Ward for the manufacture of steel
cabinets. The profits from this endeavor gave Cord the working capital to complete the 810/812 project. However, the car was
beset with mechanical problems and advanced orders were cancelled. Ultimately, 1,600 units were manufactured before the
company ceased operations entirely in 1937.