With the Law Onside, a Cord Resurrection Is in the Works

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
with the law onside a cord resurrection is in the works

Amelia Earhart owned one, and likely would have seen more sunsets had she chosen it as her ride of choice, instead of a Lockheed Electra.

It was one of the great American automobiles of the interwar era, and a favorite of matinee stars — a nameplate steeped in style, class and technological innovation. But, ultimately, short-lived.

Or was it? If one Texan has his way, we could soon see a small-scale revival of the Cord brand.

According to Hemmings, Craig Corbell, a Houston oil industry consultant and Cord aficionado, hopes to start production of new Cords. Building modern copies of a vehicle that vanished after 1937 is a tall order, but the law’s on Corbell’s side. Thank the Low Volume Motor Vehicles Manufacturers Act.

That law, passed late last year, allows low-volume replica automakers to bypass certain regulations, as long as the companies sell no more than 325 vehicles per year. Having an EPA or CARB-certified current model year engine under the hood is part of the deal.

So, the law that resurrected the DeLorean DMC-12 from its kitschy grave could soon do the same for Cord. As the first American car with front-wheel drive, the upscale Cord brand (a subsidiary of Auburn) bowed in 1929 with the L-29 model. That vehicle met a Great Depression-related death in 1932. However, it is the iconic 810 model of 1936 that most enthusiasts associate with the brand. Featuring a low-slung, running board-free body, “coffin nose” prow and flip-up headlamps, the 810 (and 812 of 1937) remains a standout in the world of automobile styling.

One a couple of thousand 810 and 812 models left the factory before the Cord brand went light-out.

In the hopes of one day realizing his dream, Corbell bought the Cord trademark in 2014 and closely followed the passage of the low-volume vehicle law. Claiming to be in talks with automakers, Corbell wants to have a display vehicle ready for the fall of 2017.

“Until now it was cost prohibitive to manufacture these cars profitably,” he said in a recent media release. “But now that expensive high speed crash testing, for example, is no longer required to manufacture low runs of replicas, this makes tremendous sense.”

[Image: Jane Nearing/ Flickr ( CC BY-ND 2.0)]

Join the conversation
5 of 33 comments
  • Its me Dave Its me Dave on Nov 26, 2016

    This is relevant to my interests.

    • See 2 previous
    • Johnster Johnster on Nov 27, 2016

      @Syke There was also at least one other company that made replicas of the 1936 and 37 Cords in the late 1960s or early 1970s, only they were built on rear-wheel drive chassis and used Ford engines. As I recall, they featured exposed headlamps. (They probably used Ford chassis, too.)

  • Ol Shel Ol Shel on Nov 27, 2016

    Why lose all your money in those run-of-the-mill supercar company scams when you can lose it in a more well-meaning debacle?

  • Dukeisduke In an ideal world, cars would be inspected in the way the MoT in the UK does it, or the TÜV in Germany. But realistically, a lot of people can't afford to keep their cars to such a high standard since they need them for work, and widespread public transit isn't a thing here.I would like the inspections to stick around (I've lived in Texas all my life, and annual inspections have always been a thing), but there's so much cheating going on (and more and more people don't bother to get their cars inspected or registration renewed), so without rigorous enforcement (which is basically a cop noticing your windshield sticker is out of date, or pulling you over for an equipment violation), there's no real point anymore.
  • Zipper69 Arriving in Florida from Europe and finding ZERO inspection procedures I envisioned roads crawling with wrecks held together with baling wire, duct tape and prayer.Such proved NOT to be the case, plenty of 20-30 year old cars and trucks around but clearly "unsafe at any speed" vehicles are few and far between.Could this be because the median age here is 95, so a lot of low mileage vehicles keep entering the market as the owners expire?
  • Zipper69 At the heart of GM’s resistance to improving the safety of its fuel systems was a cost benefit analysis done by Edward Ivey which concluded that it was not cost effective for GM to spend more than $2.20 per vehicle to prevent a fire death. When deposed about his cost benefit analysis, Mr. Ivey was asked whether he could identify a more hazardous location for the fuel tank on a GM pickup than outside the frame. Mr. Ivey responded, “Well yes…You could put in on the front bumper.”
  • 28-Cars-Later I'll offer this, offer a registration for limited use and exempt it from all inspection. The Commonwealth of GFY for the most part is Dante's Inferno for the auto enthusiast however they oddly will allow an antique registration with limited use and complete exemption from their administrative stupidity but it must be 25 years old (which ironically are the cars which probably should be inspected). Given the dystopia being built around us, it should be fairly simply to set a mileage limitation and enforce a mileage check then bin the rest of it if one agrees to the terms of the registration. For the most part odometer data started being stored in the ECU after OBDII, so it should be plug and play to do such a thing - this is literally what they are doing now for their emissions chicanery.
  • Probert For around $15 you can have a professional check important safety areas - seems like a bargain. It pointed to a rear brake problem on my motorcycle. It has probably saved a lot of lives. But, like going to a dentist, no-one could say it is something they look forward to. (Well maybe a few - it takes all kinds...)