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HomeCar CultureCord: The Legendary American Car Brand is Up For Sale

Cord: The Legendary American Car Brand is Up For Sale

For sale without reserve, including the right to build cars and sell branded material at the Dan Kruse Classic Auction June 2023

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Cord, the fabled automobile trademark, the choice of the rich and famous during Hollywood’s Golden Age, is on the market seeking a buyer wishing to resurrect this great name among car makers, worldwide.

Could the middle name in the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg trio be about to make a comeback? It certainly looks that way – this truly grand American Car marque is long overdue a rebirth. The auction lot includes the whole package, the trademark itself as well as the licensing and manufacturing rights to build new Cord automobiles.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Cord was a popular luxury American automotive brand that made a mark with its L29, and 810/812 models like the 1937 Cord Supercharged Sportsman. The brand did not survive the Great Depression and was sold to the Aviation Corporation, which attempted a revival in the 1940s. Another small-scale revival took place in the 1960s.

Cary Grant at the wheel of a Cord Special with Constance Bennett in the 1937 movie “Topper”

Now that it’s available again, the Cord trademark could be used by a new buyer to license Cord parts, make Cord-branded clothing and model toys or, perhaps, start up a new vehicle make with the classic name.

In the 1930s, film-star owners such as Johnny Weissmuller, Al Jolson and Clark Gable were drawn to the ‘coffin-nosed’ Cords and tycoon Howard Hughes was  fascinated by the new technology used in the cars with front wheel drive, new gearing and suspension and concealed headlamps and door handles, all within a beautiful streamlined shape. The avant-garde design of the Cord motivated the Museum of Modern Art in New York to honored the 810 as ‘an outstanding American contribution to automobile design’ in 1951. The innovative coffin-nose design has left its mark on pop culture inspiring the design of the original comic book version of the Batmobile and more than one Sony PlayStation video games as well as music, books and movies like James Leasor’s Where the Spies Are and The Godfather.

Could we see a Chinese car manufacturer snap up the Cord brand and build on its cache and great sentimental value? There is some recent echo of this deal for classic brands to find a new home in the modern world. The prestigious German Borgward brand closed in the 1960s but was revived by the Chinese company Beiqi Foton Motor in 2015. Chinese ride-hailing and short-term-rental provider Ucar will acquire a 67 percent stake in Borgward, the German brand revived by Beijing truck maker Beiqi Foton Motor, for 4.11 billion yuan ($614 million).

Cowboy film star Tom Mix with a 1937 Cord Supercharged 812 Phaeton

The 812 Supercharged version you see here was powered by a Lycoming V8 capable of 170hp. The 812 had a unique front wheel drive system that allowed the rest of the car to run unusually low to the ground, helping to improve handling and led to the 812 holding the average speed record (80mph) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that would stand until 1954.

Craig Corbell bought the rights to the Cord name for $242,000 in late 2014 from the family of the late Glenn Pray, who had previously secured the rights to build the Buehrig-designed in the 1960s. Over the last five years, Corbell said he “was hot to trot busy flying all over the place” laying the groundwork for two separate vehicles that would have worn the Cord name.

Speaking to Hemmings Classic Car Magazine in 2019, Mr. Corbell said he got to within a year of putting prototypes for his Cord Revival project on the road but decided to drop the project and put the rights for the Cord name back up for sale, citing in part the lack of guidelines from the federal government regarding low-volume replica cars. 2022 brought with it a solution to government guidelines but the years in between sent him in a new direction, diversifying into real estate development. “Being a visionary myself, it is my desire is that the Cord trademark will find itself in the hands of someone that will indeed revive it much like Stephen Wynne did for the Delorean Motor Company.

The new buyer will secure the trademark itself, as well as licensing and manufacturing rights of the Cord automobile. Cord & Kruse will be offering the trademark for sale without minimum or reserve at the Dan Kruse Classics auction held in Midland, Texas on June 17th. Additional no minimum no reserve offerings will include (11) pristine pre-war antiques from an estate in New Mexico.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Cord L29 Cabriolet

Two vehicles piquing interest joining those crossing the Dan Kruse auction block, Saturday June 17 is a 1963 Volvo 122S Amazon custom coupe professionally built by Jeff Allen of Flat 12 Gallery also known as “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”. Her provenance includes being a 2018 Golden Ticket Winner at OUISCI SEMA Show, breaking the world record for the highest price paid for a Volvo, fetching 150,000 when auctioned for charity by Barrett-Jackson in 2018, as well as being featured in both Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw Movie in 2019 and Netflix’s Drive Hard: The Maloof Way in 2022, where her Lingenfelter Chevy LS7 V8 engine powered to victory thumping Adam Carolla behind the wheel of Paul Newman’s Cup Porsche 911 in an open road race. This Volvo will join at least dozen other automobiles from the Flat 12 Gallery Screen Used Collection.

And finally, a unique opportunity to own a 1963 Ford Galaxie R-Code 500 XL Convertible that is one of one. Manufacture in February of 1963, she is a prototype produced in Los Angeles 3 months before factory production. Dan Kruse has been in the auction industry since 1964 and is widely considered to be one of the finest auctioneers in the world, holding many top sale records. Vehicles will be offered both live and online via proxibid.com

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