In the mid-1920s, Auburn Automobile Company was struggling with poor sales and a humdrum product offering. They enlisted the help of entrepreneur and successful Auburn salesman E.L. Cord to help bail them out of trouble. Auburn was stuck with a large amount of unsold inventory, and their cars were considered boring by the general public. E.L. Cord came up with a simple but effective plan of repainting the unsold cars in bright colors to help gain attention. To the surprise of many, his plan worked incredibly well. As a result of his success, he was offered a position within the company. But Cord was an extremely ambitious and aggressive business man, and a job within the company simply wasn’t enough for him. By 1928 he was in complete control of Auburn, having saved it from certain bankruptcy. At that time he was also well on his way to building a massive manufacturing empire that included Auburn, Lycoming Engines, Checker Cab, Duesenberg, Stinson Aircraft and New York Shipbuilders, among others. Having re-energized Auburn as a successful car builder, he decided to build a car with his own name on it – one that would compete with the likes of Lincoln, Packard and Stutz for luxury car honors. In typical E.L. Cord fashion, he eschewed tradition and specified a car that was as innovative as it was beautiful. In 1929 the L-29 appeared as a sleek, attractive and impossibly low slung machine with front wheel drive and a De Dion front axle, designed by an ex-Miller Indy Car engineer who spearheaded the project. The L-29 was significant as it was the very first front wheel drive American car, beating the lesser known Ruxton to the market by a few months. The L-29 shared the 301 cubic inch Lycoming straight eight with Auburn, but with the engine reversed in the chassis, driving through a three-speed transmission at the front. Performance was adequate, and thanks to the low center of gravity, handling was impressive. The L-29 was available with various factory bodies, though many were custom bodied by some of the finest coachbuilders of the time. Only 5,014 L29s were built between 1929 and 1932, as the Great Depression took hold and luxury automobiles suffered the consequences.
This lovely Cord L-29 Convertible Sedan is presented in a striking combination of cream with medium blue accents with a fabulous effect. The older restoration still presents very well with good quality paintwork, nice detailing and finish work. The paint shows very well, revealing only minor signs of use, still remaining in fine enough order to show. Blue accents are particularly endearing, featuring as flashes on the body swage lines, running boards and chassis. The famous low-slung lines of the L-29 are further enhanced by the gorgeous chrome wire wheels with blue accented wheel rims. Dual side mount spares are fitted with mirrors and the chrome bumpers and exterior brightwork all present in very fine condition. A period trunk in good condition sits on the trunk rack, wearing a tan canvas cover that matches the convertible top. The tan top remains in very good condition, with the frame in good order and working well.
The interior is trimmed in lovely tan leather and it is in very good condition, with only some light patina from use since the restoration was completed. L-29s have a glorious art-deco dash design, and this example has been recently freshened to enhance the cosmetics. Original instrumentation and steering wheel are in very good condition.
The 301 cubic inch Lycoming inline-eight cylinder engine is the same as an Auburn 8-32, though cleverly turned 180 degrees for installation in the front drive L-29. It is nicely detailed and has been recently treated to a thorough cleaning. Correct wiring, fittings and clamps point to a very high quality restoration and care since completion.
With its magnificent lines and ground breaking front-drive layout, the Cord L-29 remains one of the most desirable classics of all time. It is of course welcome at virtually any CCCA, AACA or similar road event. The high quality restoration has been very well maintained and the car remains very much in showable condition. Fabulous colors and detailing just add to the appeal of this handsome and highly desirable Cord L-29.
Feb 26, 2015