1937 Cord 812 Westchester Custom - SOLD
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  • Overview & History
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If it’s celebrity status you crave, this car will give it to you.

If you’re a car guy, you have probably heard of E.L. Cord and his empire of extraordinary automobiles that encompassed Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg in the 1930s. You may also know of Gordon Buehrig, the guy responsible for some of the most dramatic designs of the period, including the Auburn boattail speedsters and, of course, the Cord 810/812, which was affectionally known as the “coffin nose” Cord for obvious reasons. A ground-breaking design, it embraced the virtues of front-wheel drive with a longer, lower chassis, a semi-automatic transmission, and folding headlights that were a first in the industry. Any way you slice it, the Cord was a game-changer. And so it is with this spectacular rod built from a real-deal 1938 Cord 812 Westchester sedan. If you’re a purist, you may shed a tear, but you may also be relieved to learn that it was one of four engineless husks in a west Texas junkyard and the builder chose the “worst of the bunch” for this transformation. Rest assured, nothing of value was lost. But that does mean that it is perhaps the most striking rod of the early 21st century, one that adorned dozens of magazine covers, won countless awards at shows, and was featured on multiple TV shows. If it’s celebrity status you crave, this car will give it to you.

We have an early sketch drawn by Gordon Buehrig when he was first playing with ideas for the all-new Cord, and sure enough, there it is with steerable front fenders and aerodynamic skirts all around. The car remains almost entirely steel save for the front fenders and skirts, which are fiberglass. The body was shortened somewhat to turn the 4-door Westchester sedan into a sleeker 2-door coupe/panel truck concept that still maintains near-ideal proportions that Mr. Buehrig surely would have appreciated. Workmanship is impressive throughout, likely because this car was built by a hugely talented guy to incredibly high standards. Show-quality Hugger Orange paint was lathered over the sleek Cord bodywork and it still shines beautifully today with almost no signs of use or age anywhere on it. The wrap-around grille has been de-chromed save for a bit of aluminum on the edges, and most of the exterior emblems and trim were shaved, but it does maintain the Cord winged emblem on the nose. The folding headlights are fully operational thanks to Mazda Miata mechanisms, the taillights are recessed but still very much like the original Cord pieces, and the spilt rear window remains. Other cool tricks include those pontoon-style front fenders, which were built from two reproduction fiberglass rear fenders from an Auburn speedster, 1939 Ford teardrop fender skirts, and the graphics on the sail panels that say “Cord Hot Rod Div.” From any angle, this car is still a show-stopper.

The interior is suitably sporty and luxurious, offering custom power bucket seats, European-style carpets that were custom trimmed and bound, and warm wood inlays on the door panels and dash. A leather wrapped wheel lives on a tilt steering column and features another Cord insignia on the horn button. Gauges from Auto Meter are centered on the dash, as they were originally, and include all the engine’s vitals, with secondary controls for the Sony AM/FM/CD stereo and Vintage Air A/C system underneath. The driving position is surprisingly comfortable and contemporary feeling, although the chopped top and panel van style quarters mean you need a little extra vigilance in your mirrors. There’s a spacious storage area behind the seats, which includes the battery well and a pass-through to the trunk for especially large objects—odd that such a radical rod could be so practical! The trunk is also nicely finished with a package shelf above a restored and color-matched fuel cell.

For power and reliability, it’s hard to beat a Chevrolet 350 cubic inch V8, especially a L98 from a C4 Corvette. Featuring Tuned Port Injection, electronic ignition, and a serpentine belt drive, it’s a modern powerplant that’s smooth, torquey, and utterly bulletproof. Custom valve covers help it blend in with the Cord’s art deco look. Also note the polished brass radiator and matching heater and coolant lines—a nice detail. Thanks to OEM fuel injection, it starts easily, idles properly, and just goes about its business with a minimum of fuss. That’s not so common in the custom car world. It’s largely stock, so figure about 250 horsepower and 350 pounds of torque, but this rod is obviously not built to be a tire-smoker. Other cool details include the custom louvered firewall, pneumatic struts for the steel hood, and a giant electric fan to keep things cool. For something so radical to work as well as this car does is something of a miracle.

The suspension and chassis are extremely impressive. Cords were unit-body cars, and the original chassis is in place, albeit heavily modified and adapted to handle a fully independent Jaguar XJ6 front and rear suspension. As a result, ride quality is superb but it also feels remarkably agile on the road. The front suspension in particular is a work of engineering art, as the fenders turn with the wheels but are stationary, so the suspension moves inside without the fenders showing any movement. Impressive! The transmission is a familiar TH350 3-speed automatic and it feeds the Jaguar independent rear end with inboard disc brakes. Ground clearance is excellent, making this a car designed for the real world—even the custom exhaust system is tucked up tight. Everything underneath was color-matched to the car in true hot rod fashion, including the axles, spindles, driveshaft, and even the brake rotors themselves. It shows remarkable attention to detail. Wheels are also stock Jaguar XJ6 aluminum pieces, which fit neatly inside the skirted fenders without clearance issues, and they’re shod in 205/70/15 BFGoodrich radials all around.

Documentation includes a copy of “Rods & Performance” magazine where this car was featured on the cover.

This incredible custom Cord is as dramatic on the show field today as the original Cord was in 1937. It looks like something from outer space, pushing boundaries without becoming so radical that it stops being a car. Fully operational, beautifully finished, expertly engineered, and 100% ready to show or cruise, this is one of the biggest bargains in hot rodding we’ve ever seen. Impossible to duplicate at any price, it’s the one-of-a-kind rod you’ve been looking for. Call today!

Harwood Motors always recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections of any vehicle in our inventory prior to purchase.

Vehicle: 1937 Cord 812 Westchester Custom
Price: SOLD
Stock Number: 118015
Mileage: 3391 (since built)
VIN: 32209A
Engine: 350 cubic inch L98 V8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3.08
Wheelbase: 132 inches
Wheels: 15-inch aluminum wheels
Tires: 205/70/15 BFGoodrich radials
Exterior Color: Hugger Orange
Interior Color: Tan leather
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