When the Great Depression claimed E.L. Cord's industrial empire, the Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg marques went with it. The Cord L-29 was perhaps one of the most distinctive cars ever produced, thanks to the extra long bonnet necessitated by the straight eight engine and front-wheel-drive system. Though cloaked in various bodies, the long low lines of the L-29 are unmistakeable. The world's best known Cord, winner of countless awards, fell under the auctioneers hammer on Saturday, and sold for a record US$2.42 million. Great piccies.
Introduced in the summer of 1929, the Cord L-29 was a very high-tech vehicle for its day. Its front-wheel drive-train was inspired by the Miller-powered 1927 Indianapolis 500 car built by Cornelius Van Ranst and Tommy Milton and was the first American front-wheel drive production car.
The L-29 also had hydraulic drum brakes all round, putting it ahead of most of the competition at that time. The Model A Duesenberg of 1921 was the first passenger car to have four-wheel hydraulic brakes and even Ford did not swap from cable operated to hydraulically operated drums until 1939.
The L-29 was offered in a wide variety of factory bodies, powered by a 125 bhp, 298.6 cu. in. L-head inline eight cylinder engine, running though a three-speed selective sliding-gear manual transmission.
This particular car was designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and built by Hayes Motor Body Works specifically for international show competition and a rumoured US$20,000 was spent on the project - a very large sum of money at the time, and the build was completed just months before the stock market crash that precipitated the depression.
When the car arrived in Europe howvwer, it swept all before it, winning the Paris, Monte Carlo and Beaulieu Concours d'Elegance all in the same year (1930) - the feat had been perfromed before, but not by an American car.
In total, 5,010 L-29s were produced including 43 custom-bodied versions of which this car is one of only twelve still known to exist.
This car returned to Hayes after its European showings, then sold through a number of well-documented owners until it was completely restored in preparation for its entry into the special Custom-Bodied Cord class at the 1987 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it won Best in Class, the Co-Chairmen's Award and People's Choice.
The Hayes Coupe featured in many publications in the late eighties including Motor Trend, the April 1988 Collectible Automobile and The Classic Car and reproduced in highly detailed 1:16-scale model form by the Danbury Mint.
In mid-1991, the car received Level 1 Original Certification (CL-073) following detailed examination by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club and at the 2008 Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance it won Best in Class for the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg class.
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