Classic Cars Wiki
Classic Cars Wiki

Cord 810

The body design of the Cord 810 was the work of designer Gordon M. Buehrig and his team of stylists, which included young Vince Gardner. The first American front-wheel drive car with independent front suspension, but an archaic tube rear axle with semi-elliptic rear springs, it used a 4,739 cc (289 cu in) Lycoming V8 of the same 125 hp (93 kW) as the L-29. The semi-automatic four-speed transmission (three plus overdrive) extended in front of the engine, like a Traction Avant. This transmission was later modified with stronger gears and used in the rear-engined 1948 Tucker Sedan as the Tucker Y-1. This allowed Buehrig to dispense with the driveshaft and transmission tunnel; as a result, the new car was so low it required no running boards. It had a 125" wheelbase.


Length-195.5 inches
Width- 71.0 inches
Height-58 inches
Weight-4,110 lbs.
Road Clearance-9 inches
Brakes-12" drums
Front Suspension-Independent with trailing arms, leaf springs and friction shocks.


Reportedly conceived as a Duesenberg and nearly devoid of chrome, the 810 had hidden door hinges and rear-hinged hood, rather than the side-opening type more usual at the time, both new items. It also featured pontoon fenders with headlamps (modified Stinson landing lights) (E. L. Cord owned a majority of Stinson stock) that disappeared into the fenders via dashboard hand cranks, a concealed fuel filler door, variable-speed windshield wipers (at a time when any wipers were rare, and those were likely operated by hand), and the famous louvered wraparound grill, from which its nickname "coffin-nose" derived. Its engine-turned dashboard included complete instrumentation, a tachometer, and standard radio (which would not become an industry standard offering until well into the 1950s). The new car caused a sensation at the New York Auto Show in November 1935. The crowds around the 810 were so dense, attendees stood on the bumpers of nearby cars to get a look. Many orders were taken at the show, but the cars were not ready to deliver until February. Cord had rushed to build the 100 cars needed to qualify for the show, and the transmission was not ready. Even so, Cord took many orders at the show, promising Christmas delivery, expecting production of 1,000 per month. The semi-automatic transmission was more troublesome than expected, and 25 December came and went with no cars built. The first production vehicles were not delivered to New York City until April 1936. In all, Cord managed to sell only 1,174 of the new 810 in its first model year, as the result of mechanical troubles.

Supercharging was made available on the 1937 812 model. Supercharged 812 models were distinguished from the normally aspirated 812s by the brilliant chrome-plated external exhaust pipes mounted on each side of the hood and grill. With supercharging, horsepower was raised to 170.

The end[]

It was too late to save Cord, but the contraction "Suped" (referring its supercharged engine) lived on in American lexicon as the hot-rodding phrase "Suped-Up" (as opposed to "souped-up", which referred to the drugging of horses).

In Popular Culture[]

A Cord Model 810 coupe was featured in the 1975 film Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze.

A Cord 810 convertible is featured in the 2011 video game L.A. Noire, set in 1947, as drivable vehicle.

A Cord 812 Sportsman features in James Leasor's books as the car of Dr Jason Love, the country doctor turned amateur British spy. It also appears in the film Where the Spies Are, starring David Niven as Dr Jason Love.