Errett Cord was a man on a mission. To get rich - or die trying! Maverick to his core, cars were one of several saucers he was spinning. Cord may not have loved cars, as such - but he sure loved selling 'em. Cars like the Cord 810.
By '29, Cord had acquired Auburn and Duesenberg. And he had returned the two of them to profitability. Time now, then, for him to strike out on his own. First off, came the Cord L-29. It featured a Lycoming engine and front wheel drive. The motor was not much to write home about. But the FWD most certainly was. Miller racing cars were fitted with it. As a result, they were leaving their rivals languishing in their wake. Cord decided he had have some of that. In the showrooms, though, the L-29's high price, transmission issues - and lacklustre engine - held it back.
The Cord 810 was launched at the NY show - in December '35. Its unique selling point - FWD - had been upgraded. Powering it was a new V8. With the optional supercharger, it produced 190bhp. That gave a top speed of 110mph. Gear changes were electric - literally. A small lever activated cog-shifting solenoids. Innovative engineering enabled radical styling. Unitary construction - with no separate chassis - allowed Gordon Buehrig to draft a 'low rider' look. Headlights blended in with the fenders - enhancing the 810's clean lines. Inside, too, the Cord cut a dash. Its instrument panel was aeronautical in design. Convertible, phaeton, and two sedan models were available. But - even with so much in its favour - the 810 did not break the sales scales. To be fair, the Great Depression was not the best time to be in marketing! Errett Cord had other things on his mind, anyway. His ‘pushy’ business practices had attracted attention – some of it from financial regulators. So - in ’34 - Cord sought safe passage to England. With its captain no longer at his station, the good ship Cord was cut adrift. In ’37, it sank. The Cord 810, though – and its 812 successor – had made their indelible mark in the design annals. If not the cash registers!