Low Volume Replica Law Makes 2017 Cord Possible

The Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 permits small automobile manufacturers to sell up to 325 replicas of vehicles that have been out of production for at least 25 years, provided they are fitted with a modern powertrain that meets all applicable emissions requirements in effect today. Already the law has led to a revival of the original AC Cobra and the Delorean.  Now Texas entrepreneur Craig Corbell says he will take advantage of the law to offer a replica of the iconic Cord 810/812 sedan to the public in 2017.

Cord 810/812 replica

First a little history. In 1924, E.L.Cord was a successful businessman who had amassed an empire composed of 150 companies, most of them involved in the transportation industry. He was approached by the owners of the struggling Auburn Automobile Company. Cord took over Auburn and added it to his holding company.

The 1929 Cord L-29 became the first production car offered with front wheel drive. The car was sleek and sold well, but the transmission and driveline were problem areas. The Depression put an end to that model. After the Depression ended, Cord brought out a new model, the 810/812. Designed by Gordon Buehrig, the new car was the first to offer hidden headlights. It was powered by a 289 cubic inch Lycoming V-8 engine driving through a four speed semi-automatic transmission that was electrically controlled. It also featured independent front suspension — a rarity at the time.

Utilizing front wheel drive meant the new Cord was so low to the ground the driver and passengers no longer needed running boars to enter and exit the car. The 810/812 was distinguished by the front end treatment penned by Buehrig. The flat, slab sided bodywork ahead of the windshield was unlike anything seen before and the car was promptly dubbed the “coffin nose” by the public.

In 1951, the Cord 810/812 was recognized by the Museum of Modern Art for its originality. Buehrig was also responsible for two other well known automobile designs of the era — the Duesenberg Model J and the Auburn Boattail Speedster. Both were manufactured by Cord. The post-Depression Cord was not a sales success. Production ended in 1937.

The Cord name was owned by the Pray family for more than 50 years before it was sold to Corbell in 2014. He says he will offer replicas of the Cord 810/812 “coffin nose” sedan to the public starting in 2017. No details about what powertrain Corbell plans to use have been released. If the replica is faithful to the original, the crankshaft will extend through the front of the engine block and there will be an external flywheel attached to a transmission located at the front of the car.

Hmmmm…..don’t recall many such driveline arrangements lately, although there are plenty of front wheel drive configurations available. Another option could be a V-8 crate engine from Detroit driving the rear wheels, although that would be a far cry from the original. It would be like building a Delorean replica without the gullwing doors. For now, the world will just have to wait and see what Craig Corbell has mind when the replica is ready for sale next year.

Source and photo credit: AutoBlog



Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.