In 1929 there were two front-wheel drive American production cars announced. Errett Loban Cord would be first to market with his L-29 Cord; production would begin in June 1929. Archie Andrews would follow with his short-lived Ruxton automobile. Cord needed a car to fill the gap between his reasonably priced Auburn and his top of the line Duesenberg Model J. Referred to as “Cord Front Drive” in company literature, the car was never given a name and would adopt the prototype’s I.D. number, “L-29,” as its model designation. Four factory body styles would be offered: sedan, Brougham, cabriolet and phaeton (convertible sedan). Closed car prices started at $3,095 while convertibles would start at $3,295.
The car featured styling courtesy of the legendary Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, a young Russian nobleman who took up auto design in the 1920s winning five Grands Prix at the Monte Carlo Concours d’Elegance. The L-29 Cord was his fifth win and the first for an American car. The front-wheel drive chassis enabled him to design a car that was ten inches lower than competitive cars; the design he submitted was six inches lower still. The car also boasted a streamlined grille, the first to surround the radiator with sheet metal. Cornelius Van Ranst and Harry Miller (of Indy car fame) were responsible for engineering the L-29. The car featured a 137-inch wheelbase, which incorporated the industry’s first X-braced frame and front brakes mounted inboard (by differential) to reduce unsprung weight. Mounting the transmission behind the front axle in combination with a Lycoming 298.6 cubic inch straight eight advertised at 125 hp made for excellent handling. Cord built 5,010 units between the 1929 introduction and when production ceased on December 31, 1931. The car was to be followed by a new and improved L-30 but the Depression saw to it that it never happened.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona and in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.