Cord L-29 Cabriolet
Collection of Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt
Errett Lobban Cord rose to national prominence after rescuing the Auburn Automobile Company of Auburn, Indiana, in 1928. Seeing an opportunity for a uniquely engineered luxury automotive brand, Cord encouraged Fred and August Duesenberg to build what he envisioned as America’s finest motorcar.
Noted racecar constructor Harry A. Miller and his associates were retained by Cord to engineer a radical front-drive chassis. The innovative and luxurious L-29 Cord, unfortunately introduced just as the New York Stock Market crashed, combined its engine, transaxle, and clutch into one co-located assembly, eliminating a conventional driveshaft. This permitted a 10-inch lower chassis and necessitated a lengthy hood that appeared even longer because the designer, Al Leamy, surrounded the radiator with an integrated sheet-metal assembly, finished to match the car’s color.
The lowslung Cord’s bodylines were exquisite. Features include an Art Deco styled transaxle cover, an elegant streamlined grille that evoked the styling of Harry Miller’s racing cars, sweeping clamshell fenders, sleek body side reveals which accentuated the car’s length, and a low roofline. These are embellished by myriad Art Deco styled details ranging from accented fender trim, tapered headlamp shapes, etched door-handle detailing and tiny, but exquisite instrument panel dials.
The L-29 Cord’s art moderne styling and engineering prowess attracted buyers of taste and style who were not afraid to try something different. Owners included the era’s most prominent and controversial architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, who bought a new L-29 Convertible Phaeton in 1929 and drove it for many years. This stunning cabriolet, was purchased in the 1950s by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Wright’s legal caretaker until his death in 1959. Wright had many of his cars painted in a bright hue called Taliesin orange. The finish of this Cord is a close approximation.