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Cord 812 Supercharged Sportsman 1937


1937 Cord 812 Supercharged "Sportsman"

Chassis no. 31631F
Engine no. FC2136
Previously owned by Jules Heumann

289cid Supercharged Flathead V-8 Engine

Single Stromberg Carburetor

170bhp at 4,250rpm

4-Speed Pre-selector Transmission

Independent Front Suspension - Live Rear Axle

4-Wheel Drum Brakes

*Gorgeous example of the iconic "Coffin-nose" Cord

*Powerful supercharged engine and innovative pre-selector gear shift

*Previously owned by well-known collector Jules Heumann

*30 year build by Cord enthusiast


One of the few automobiles deemed worthy of inclusion in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and arguably the most easily recognized American car of all time, the Cord 810 debuted in November 1935, where it received a rapturous reception at US automobile shows. Originally conceived as a baby Duesenberg, this amazing design was the work of a team headed by Gordon Buehrig, who had previously designed the famous Duesenberg Beverly style and the stupendous Duesenberg "Twenty Grand" for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.

The 810 body style with its louvered "coffin" nose, streamlined wings, concealed gas filler under a modern flap, headlamps that opened by means of hand-cranks on either side of the airplane-style engine-turned aluminum dash and the absence of running boards would prove immensely influential. The following model year, cars all over the world suddenly had horizontal chrome strips along the hood, squared-off grilles and more shapely side treatments. None however, could aspire to the clean, simple and timeless beauty of the original. A front-wheel-drive car like the L-29, the 810 differed from its predecessor by virtue of its more compact Lycoming V-8 engine and 4-speed, pre-selector electric gearbox, modelled on the French Cotal. 

The Cord was re-designated 812 for 1937 when custom sedans on a longer wheelbase joined the range, although it is doubtful whether any independent offering ever matched Buehrig's original Beverly fastback sedan for sheer style. Supercharging was made available on the 1937 812 model, and these can be distinguished from the normally aspirated 812s by the chrome-plated external exhaust pipes mounted on each side of the hood and grille. Priced competitively in the USD 2,000 - 3,000 range, the 810/812 should have been a huge success, but this was not to be. The Cord Corporation was in deep financial trouble, and when Mr. Cord sold up in August 1937, it spelled the end not just for Cord, but for Auburn and Duesenberg as well. At the close, a little fewer than 3,000 810/812s had been made.


By far most of the about 3,000 Cord 810/812s were closed cars, called the Westchester when built as a fastback, and the Beverly when fitted with a bustleback trunk. Of the open models, the most common was the four-passenger Phaeton. Only 195 examples were manufactured of the supremely elegant two-seat convertible coupe later called the Sportsman, and according to the factory records, a mere 64 of these were supercharged. 

According to previous owner and famous Hispano-Suiza expert Jules Heumann, 31631F is a three-decade long effort by one of the most respected Cord enthusiasts, namely Henry Portz of Arroyo Grande, California. This car never left the factory officially in its present configuration, but was assembled over a thirty-year period using original Cord 810/812 parts. Faults of the original design, such as slipping out of gear and vapor lock were corrected. The build of the car is fully authentic and it is probably the finest one extant. The rich maroon color is an original Cord color as well.

Although the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg club were unable recognize the car as being originally delivered by the factory in its current state, it nevertheless allowed it entry to one of its national meets. It has the reputation of being one of the finest Cord 812 supercharged convertible coupes from a technical point of view. Jules Heumann acquired 31631F from Henry Portz in late 2011, as he had never previously owned an American classic. He kept the car for a little over a year, but sold the car to renowned Danish collector Henrik Frederiksen in late 2012 as he felt unfamiliar with the front wheel drive configuration, having previously owned a number of Hispano-Suiza automobiles. When this car was shipped, it had a standard coolant, but not long after reaching Denmark low temperatures were encountered and the engine was damaged by freezing. Amazingly, Henrik Frederiksen was able to acquire a rebuilt supercharged Cord 812 engine from Mark Tomei in January 2013, which was then fitted to the car. 

This example represents the second-generation front wheel drive Cord in its ultimate 812 supercharged configuration. In addition, this car has the rarest open body type, which is very sought after due to its clean and exquisite style with fully disappearing top, unencumbered by the frivolous ornamentation plastered on so much of its competition at the time.


Cord 812 Supercharged Sportsman 1937


Est. US$ 175,000 - 250,000


  • Model: Cord 812 Supercharged Sportsman
  • Year: 1937
  • Coachbuilder: Cord
  • Designer: Gordon Buehrig
  • Production nr.: < 3000
  • Seller: Bonhams
  • Country: USA
  • Contact: www.bonhams.com
  • Auction: The Scottsdale Auction 18-01-18
  • Auction date: 18 January 2018
  • Tags: 1937, Bonhams, Cord, Gordon Buehrig, supercharged

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