1937 Cord 812 Phaeton - $199,900
  • Overview & History
  • Specifications
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There isn’t much chrome, but whatever is on the car was restored to a high standard, adding small touches of jewelry to a car that doesn’t need ornamentation to stand out.

A-C-D Certified Category 1. Serial number 1222H, Engine FB250, Unit 1267, Body C91 563. High-quality restoration in beautiful colors. Richardson axles and CV joints. Runs and shifts properly. A stunning Cord phaeton ready to show or tour.

Gordon Buehrig’s stunning Cord 810/812 is easily the most ground-breaking car of the 1930s. Cords were always mechanically innovative, featuring front-wheel-drive and hydraulic brakes from their inception, but when wrapped in the most dramatic bodywork of the era they because something else entirely. Imagine seeing this car on the road in 1936 when everyone else was still driving what amounted to boxes on wheels. It must have been like a spaceship landing! And among the multiple Cord body styles, one of the most desirable and dramatic was the phaeton—a 4-seat convertible that embodies the sporting, advanced thinking that E.L. Cord believed would save his empire. It didn’t, of course, but there’s no denying that this 1937 Cord 812 phaeton is absolutely stunning from every angle.

Thanks to a relatively recent restoration, this lovely 812 presents extremely well. The bright yellow finish is just right for a high-performance convertible and the contrasting black canvas convertible top is the right choice. All the familiar Cord styling cues are there, including the folding headlights and wrap-around grille, but it’s the little things that always catch my eye. Look at the pointed rear tips of the fenders, the unique front cover that hides the transmission—it’s shaped to follow the contours of the machinery underneath—and the bumpers with three simple bars in the center to add some interest. The car is a master class from a brilliant stylist on how to get things exactly right. Panel fit on Cords is always iffy, but this one is better than most, with doors that swing closed easily and the gaps are quite good all around. There isn’t much chrome, but whatever is on the car was restored to a high standard, adding small touches of jewelry to a car that doesn’t need ornamentation to stand out.

The dark green leather interior is a wonderful choice with the yellow bodywork and the interior appointments are no less ground-breaking than the exterior. Bucket seats are firm and comfortable for front seat passengers and car individually adjustable so everyone can get comfortable. The driving position is quite modern thanks to the low floor, and that might just be the most beautiful instrument panel of the 1930s. Inspired by aircraft, the engine-turned panel houses a full array of gauges, including a tachometer, as well as levers for the choke, throttle, and lights. This car includes a factory AM radio over on the far right of the panel, although it is sadly not operational. And, of course, the car’s most significant feature is that pre-selector transmission control stalk on the right of the steering column. It’s easy to master once you understand its operation and this one shifts into all four gears plus reverse without any hesitation. Small cranks at the outer edges of the instrument panel open the headlight doors, and the wide suicide-style doors allow easy entry and exit. The back seat is big enough for grown adults and the top remains in excellent condition (we did not put the top down for photos as it is a bit of a challenging process and we did not want to risk any damage). The trunk is modestly-sized but includes a matching spare tire and enough room for a few weekend bags.

Cord’s 288 cubic inch V8 was rated at a rather stout 125 horsepower in naturally aspirated form, and it provides sparkling performance out on the road. It always feels nimble and energetic, and thanks to the innovative transmission (more on that in a moment) it will cruise easily at modern highway speeds. This one takes a little time to start when it’s cold (the addition of an electric fuel pump would surely cure this issue) but it idles nicely even when cold and pulls the gorgeous phaeton around with enthusiasm. It is correctly detailed under the hood, offering proper finishes, correct wiring, and factory-style hardware throughout. There are a few very minor signs of use, but it remains very crisp and the driving manners suggest that the time was invested in getting it to run properly.

The innovative pre-selector 4-speed transmission is what made this Cord possible, and once properly set-up, they provide effortless motoring that’s unlike anything else. Depress the clutch to fire the engine, and then move the selector into first gear. Release the clutch as you accelerate like with any other manual transmission car. Then move the selector to 2nd gear—it will not shift until you depress the clutch again. Repeat for the 2-3 and 3-4 shifts and for any downshifts. The mechanical symphony of relays, vacuum actuators, synchros, and solenoids is really rather remarkable for the period and this one is properly sorted so it works as it should. It’s also worth noting that this car carries upgraded Richardson drive axles and CV joints for improved reliability. The chassis shows a few signs of use, but nothing that couldn’t be wiped away with a weekend of detailing, and there is no evidence of previous damage or rot. The original floors are excellent, the rockers are solid, and all the structural members are in great shape (this was among the first unit-bodied cars, so all that stuff really matters). The three-prong apparatus near the exhaust is the radio antenna, and the car uses an Optima battery to reliably fire the engine. The exhaust has just the right V8 burble to suggest power and performance and the brakes are surprisingly powerful for manual drums. Chrome wheels feature holes that were added to help cool the brakes but had the side-effect of also looking great, and they carry correct 6.50-16 Firestone wide whitewall tires.

Documentation includes Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club Certification documents that verify this as a correct 812 phaeton with its original engine and body. It also includes manuals, wiring diagrams, technical articles, receipts, and extensive notes from previous owners on repairs and restoration work done in the past.

Cords are a special breed and do require a special owner to keep them in peak condition. In exchange, the driver is rewarded with one of the best driving experiences of the pre-war era and a car that feels quite modern in every way. Dramatic styling, a top that goes down, and enough room for passengers and gear makes this phaeton an outstanding candidate for tours and the quality of the restoration holds up under scrutiny. A fantastic Cord that’s ready to drive and enjoy right away. Call now!

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

Vehicle: 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton
Price: $199,900
Stock Number: 120078
Odometer Reading: 86,398
VIN: 1222H
Engine: 288 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 4-speed manual pre-select
Gear Ratio: 4.3
Wheelbase: 125 inches
Wheels: 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 6.50-16 Firestone wide whitewall
Exterior Color: Cigarette Cream
Interior Color: Black leather
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