August 22, 2019

Wow! What a fantastic, superduper car!

 

 

Here it is. Gorgeous, isn’t it?. Would you believe it was built when I was just a little kid?!  Wait till you find out how much it’s worth today. Amazing!

By John Guy LaPlante
Morro Bay, CA — I was taking my daily trike ride up and down the big parking lot at Albertsons
Supermarket. And I spotted it!
Gorgeous. A cream-colored two-door coupe convertible with a beautiful crimson top. Elegant
covered headlights. Not a ding on it.
A dream car!  The 2020 version of whatever make it was, it seemed. Right out of the dealer’s
showroom, for sure. Obviously $$$$$$$!
I was curious. What the heck make was this? A Mercedes? Maybe a Porsche? A Maserati?
Well, take a look at the photo that I took. What do you think it was?
I looked at the front of it. Went to the rear. Looked at the driver’s side. Finally the passenger
side. I couldn’t find the make anywhere. So, so strange.
I did spot a small emblem. Gorgeous. But it didn’t mean a thing to me.
A couple in their sixties approached with their groceries. The car caught their eyes, too.They
began looking it over. Studying it. Every side, just as I did. They were gaping. Like me.
“What kind is it?” I asked. “What do you think? I can’t spot the make anywhere!”
She shook her head. “You’re right. But it sure is a beauty!”
He was baffled, too. “No idea. Some rich guy’s pride and joy, I’ll betcha!”
“That’s what I think, too. Yeah, a very rich guy.”
They headed on to their own car.
I took out my phone. I wanted to take a picture. I’d send it to David, my son-in-law. He’s a car
guy. He might have the answer. For sure he’d be fascinated.
I was positioning myself to get the best picture of it I could, with the position of the sun and all.
When just then a man and woman showed up, also with stuff from Albertsons. And walked right
up to this very car.
What good luck!
Both middle-aged. He was a big fellow. She was on the petite side. He took out his keys. Was putting
their groceries in the car.
“Excuse me, sir!” I said. “I was about to take a picture of your car. What a beauty! But what kind is it? I can’t find the make anywhere.”
“A Ford!”
“A Ford! I’ve never seen such a fantastic Ford. What model is it?”
“No, no. Not a Ford. A Cord.”
“A Cord?  I’ve never heard of a Cord. Is this some new make! Like the Tesla?”
“No, no!”
“I’m sorry. I have a hearing problem. What did you say?”
“It’s a Cord. A 1937 Cord.”
“A 1937?!  Are you kidding me?”
“No. It is a 1937!” And he repeated. “A 1937!”
“A 1937! I can’t believe it. I was born in 1929. You’re telling me this car was made when I was
just eight years old?”
“Yes. If that’s when you were born.”
I couldn’t help myself. I had something exciting in mind, Well, to me.  l  told him my name. Told him how I’ve been a  journalist and writer. And how now I blog about things.  Write about whatever interests me and I think will interest my readers.

I told him, “I’d like to write about this amazing 1937 Cord of yours!”
They looked at one another. Weighing what I’d said.
I said I needed a picture to go with my article. A picture would be essential.
“Could you please stand next to the car?” I said. “With you in it that would make my picture more
interesting .”
They looked at one another again. Then came and stood by the car, but on my side of it.
“No, no,” I said. “On the other side, please. That way the whole Cord will be visible. I want to let people get a good look.”
They looked at one another again. Seemed amused. But they shifted over. Good sports.
I asked for a little smile. They smiled. Very nice. And that’s the picture you’re looking at now.
“Do you live here?”

They shook their heads. He said they were here for a get-together of Cord owners. It was being held at the Inn at Morro Bay, which is right on the Embarcadero overlooking our harbor. Very nice.
“Oh, so there are quite a few of you in town?”

“Well, a bunch. Some from quite a long ways. It’s a good time.”
Must be a small number, I thought. How many Cords can there still be around?
Anyway, I began telling them about myself, invited them to check me out online. Wanted to make them
feel comfortable. And could I call him at his convenience? We’d have a nice chat.
“I think you’d get a kick out of it. And it would be great publicity about Cord!”
They looked at one another again. “Certainly!” he said.
“May I call you this evening? At 9 p.m., say? Would that work for you?”
“Sure, that sounds okay.”
I handed him my pen and a card and asked for his name and number.
He wrote down “Bill.”  Just Bill. And his number.
I shook hands with him. And they got into their gorgeous Cord. He started it.
Such a soft purr. And they drove off.  She gave me a little wave. Very sweet.
Well, I thought they were the perfect couple to be driving that fantastic one in a million car.
One thing for sure. This must be the first ’37 Cord ever to park at Albertsons.
Well, I called Bill at 9 p.m. But he didn’t pick up.
Shucks. They might be busy. I left a message.
I called again at 9:30. No answer. Damn.
I checked his number. I was curious. It was in the 818 area exchange. That’s in the Los Angeles area.
In Glendale mostly. A very nice place.
I went to bed disappointed. You know, frustrated that Bill hadn’t returned my
call.
In the morning right after breakfast, I looked up “the Cord automobile” on Wikipedia. Quite a
story. A short story but dramatic.

The Cord was a high-class, super expensive luxury car. Built in Cornersville, Indiana, by Everett
Lobban Cord. A man with big and quite revolutionary ideas.

He ran the business from 1929 to 1932, then again from 1936 into 1937. Such a strange gap. Well, financial problems. The Great Depression. Bankruptcy.

The ’37 that I saw at Albertsons was the 1938 model. It was called the 812 Cord. It became the best-known of the Cords.

It had a totally new look from what cars looked like back then. Streamlined. Futuristic. There was nothing else like it around.

It boasted a very powerful engine. It was said it could go a hundred miles an hour. Unfortunately there was no road it could go that fast on.

It had a lower suspension that made running boards unnecessary. Back then most cars had running boards.

Became famous for its advanced technology. A breakthrough 4-speed Servo shift. First front-wheel drive. Independent suspension. Covered headlights for an even sleeker look.

It was a sensation at the National Auto Show that year.

But because of production problems, only 1,174 got built for that model year. So Bill’s was one of only 1,174!

The company collapsed for the second time and that ended its history. But founder Everett Lobban Cord went on to make millions in the real estate industry.

I’d like to read his bio some day!

It’s important to remember that all that took place only 25 years or so after Henry Ford came out with his hugely successful Model T,  priced so low that just about any family could own one.

That was the real beginning of the American automobile industry.

But the Cord was marketed totally differently. To the very, very well-to-do.  I’ll bet Cord owners today must be very well-to-do.

By the way, I’m positive that Bill’s snazzy 812 is a total rebuild, with a ton of upgrades.

Why do I think this? Well, just think for a minute of all the mechanical improvements that an automobile today must have just to get registered.

Not only “little” things like rear-view mirrors and windshield wipers and seat belts and air conditioning but big, expensive mechanical components that we seldom think about and take for granted. Just as we should.

At one time in its history, maybe Bill’s had wound up in a junk yard. Somebody had recognized it and put it in superduper shape.

Anyhow, the first owner of Bill’s Cord paid $1,995 for it. That was the advertised price.

I just looked at an Inflation Calculator Table. It indicated that $2,000 back then would be $35,000 today.

But now Google says, and I quote, “A Cord in prime condition can fetch up to $150,000. And one in poor shape can bring $50,000.”

Whew!

If only Mr. Everett Lobban Cord could hear that!

And that made me think that the other fellow back at Albertsons who was looking at Bill’s Cord with me was absolutely right.

He told me, “Just a rich guy’s pride and joy, I’ll betcha!”

Yes, sir!  I’ll betcha!  Just a rich guy’s pride and joy!

I wish I could check that out with Bill!

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