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Lofty Design and High-Flying Ownership

The Cord’s introduction at the New York Auto Show in 1935 was revelatory, luxury and performance reimagined in the shadow of the Great Depression. Trailblazing aviatrix Amelia Earhart recognized a kindred spirit in the lines and ambition of the 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible and made this one her own.

With its louvered, wraparound grill (or “coffin nose”) and low-slung bearing, the Cord could have been legendary based on looks alone. But its time-tested visual appeal had its roots in innovative engineering. The Cord’s front-wheel drive, a first for the American automotive industry, eliminated the need for a driveshaft under the passenger compartment, allowing the roof of Cord to rise just five feet off the ground.

Earhart’s affinity for the Cord may be attributed in part to its airplane-styling. Absent the wood details of those of its competitors, the dashboard’s uninterrupted surface of machine-turned aluminum conjured the interior of a cockpit. And the headlights – raised and lowered with cranks located on either side of that streamlined dashboard – were aircraft landing lights, produced by Stinson Aircraft Company.

Less than a year before her disappearance over the Pacific in 1937, Earhart posed for a picture with the machines she loved: this Cord 812 and the twin-engine Lockheed 10E Electra plane in which she was lost.

1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection

Return to Glory

Earhart’s widower, George Palmer Putnam, sold the Cord before a year was out. The car passed through various hands until its acquisition in 2019 by The JBS Collection.

Through the careful craftsmanship of LaVine Restorations of Nappanee, Indiana, the vehicle was returned to its former glory over a restoration process of more than two years to immediate acclaim, a winner at the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’elegance.

Design Dynamo

The 810/812 series Cords were the design child of Automotive Hall of Fame inductee Gordon Miller Buehrig, credited with the body design of both Auburn’s 851 Boattail Speedster and the Dusenberg Model J.

Innovations Buehrig realized in the Cord design included: hidden door hinges; a rear-hinged hood that made the Cord’s coffin-nose possible; concealed, “pontoon”-style fenders; and the elimination of running boards, a function of the Cord’s short stature.

Exterior Details

1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection

1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible Specs:

  • Lycoming V8 engine
  • 125 hp
  • Top speed of 70 mph
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Four-speed gear shift
  • Independent front transmission
  • Produced for two years (1936 and 1937)
  • Originally priced at $2,195
  • A winner at the Pebble Beach Concours D’elegance in 2021

Interior Details

1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection
1937 Cord 812 Phaeton Convertible - The JBS Collection