February 2015 Car of the Month
1929 Cord L-29 Brougham
After E. L. Cord came to the Auburn Automobile Company and saved it from failure, he set out to build a car bearing his own name. The result was the Cord L-29 that began production in October 1929.
The Cord L-29 was the first successful American production front wheel drive car. Its creation required innovation in design and engineering. The three-speed transmission on the L-29 is in front of the engine. It is shifted by means of a knob and shaft at the center of the dashboard that runs along the length of the engine to a shift lever in front of the engine. On the L-29, the differential is part of the transmission and is fixed in place. The front brakes are inboard and are attached to the differential housing.
Without a driveshaft and differential in the rear, the chassis of the L-29 was considerably lower than the typical rear wheel drive car. Auburn Automobile Company engineer, Cornelius Van Ranst was responsible for the design of the L-29’s new transmission and drivetrain. The engine, built by Lycoming, was an inline 8-cylinder with a displacement of 299 cubic inches. It produced 125 horsepower. The body was styled by Auburn Automobile Company designer Alan Leamy. 5,010 units were produced between 1929 and late 1931.
This particular Cord L-29 was built in the first month of production in 1929 and is completely original inside and out. Although its appearance my not appeal to some, this car provides a rare opportunity to see original materials, paints and finishes. This Cord is original in two items that were soon changed in production. First, the battery is located under the hood sitting near the cylinder head of the engine. Due to problems related to heat from the engine, the battery on production cars was soon relocated to a box under the passenger side front fender. Secondly, the wheel wires were not thick enough to reliably support the weight of the car. The wheels were soon changed to ones with heavier gage wire. These two items were not only production changes, but were also items for which early L-29s were recalled. It is unknown as to why this car never had these changes made, which makes this L-29 unique. The price for this car in 1929 was $3,095, which was approximately 2 ½ times the annual income of an average American family.
Exhibited through the courtesy of Burt Dickman, Auburn, Indiana.
Experience the passion as you step back through time to the golden era of automobiles. Walk the same hallways as the automotive giants of yesterday. Touring the museum will give you an impression of what a day at Auburn Automobile Company must have been like in the 1930s.