The 1937 Cord 812 stands as Gordon Buehrig's masterpiece, an enduring symbol of brilliance, beauty, and creativity in automotive design. This iconic vehicle, a part of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg family, is a true statement of sophistication and innovation.
At its heart, the 812 features an intercooled, supercharged Flathead Lycoming V8, unleashing a conservatively rated 186 horsepower at 4200 rpm. The exterior is adorned with brilliant chrome plating and external exhaust pipes mounted on each side of the hood, creating a visual spectacle that announces its presence like no other. The retractable headlamp system on the front fenders adds a touch of elegance to the overall design.
The 812's distinctive split rear window contributes to its unique shape, leading to a rear bustle trunk that not only adds character but also offers excellent storage space. The front-wheel-drive system, reminiscent of the Citroen Traction Avant, utilizes a pre-select 4-speed manual transaxle in front of the engine, operated with remote control pneumatics.
The Cord 812's design remains a pinnacle of automotive aesthetics, earning it a well-deserved spot on any list of the most beautiful production cars of the 20th century. Introduced at the 1935 New York Auto Salon, this groundbreaking design left spectators awe-struck, with some going to great lengths, even standing atop other cars, to catch a glimpse of this automotive marvel.
The rush of sales requests following its debut led to swift production, with the 1937 model year resolving minor issues and thus considered the year of choice. Among the rarest and most desirable are the supercharged models with outside exhaust pipes, solidifying their status as some of the fastest and most drivable pre-war cars. The Cord 812 transcends its era, offering a driving experience, handling, and aesthetic appeal that continue to captivate automotive enthusiasts, making it truly like no other pre-war car and, arguably, better than many produced long after the war ended.