1936 Cord 810 “Armchair” Beverly Sedan. Collection of Richard and Debbie Fass. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

1936 Cord 810 Beverly Sedan
Collection of Rich and Debbie Fass, Vienna, NJ

The American Cord 810 was designed by Gordon Miller Buehrig. Its features included front-wheel-drive, independent front suspension, a streamlined, unitized body with pontoon fenders and an ‘alligator’ hood, a V-8 engine with aluminum heads, and a four-speed pre-selector Bendix transmission with vacuum/electric shifting. The horn ring, covered gas filler cap, and hidden headlights were all American firsts.

Arguably more than any other car of its era, the Cord’s styling celebrated the Art Deco style. Its coffin-shaped hood was surrounded on three sides with horizontal rows of slatted cooling louvers. Curvaceous fenders and an exquisitely arched roofline complemented the angular hood, tall waistline, and low windows.

This example, the “Armchair” Beverly, rewarded four occupants with a quartet of easy chairs, each with its own armrest. Five-passenger Westchester models were preferred by more buyers because many in that era favored expansive bench seats.

Rushed to market in the midst of the Great Depression, the Cord’s development was not quite finished when it went on sale. Early examples suffered from overheating, balky gearboxes, and braking problems. Priced around $3,000, a new Cord cost as much as a Cadillac but was perceived as a smaller car. The Cord 810’s styling was recognized in the 1951 New York Museum of Modern Art’s 8 Automobiles exhibition, where it was called “a solemn expression of streamlining.”

Sponsored by: Mr. and Mrs. Martin F. McNamara III

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