Hooniverse Weekend Edition: Two Historic Cars offered on Ebay, One increadable tale about their Makers.

Welcome to the Fathers Day edition of Hooniverse, where I browsed through the “Other Makes” section of Ebay Motors to find interesting things to discuss here at Hooniverse. So, with that introduction out of the way, here are two significant and historical cars that are up for sale, but it’s the history of the companies that produced these vehicles that is the story here. Read more about these cars after the jump….

The Cord 810 of 1936 was like no other car built at that time. It was a sensation at the 1935 New York Auto Show, with the crowd actually standing on other cars to get a look at the new Cord. However, according to all things Wikipedia:

Many orders were taken at the show, but the cars were not ready to deliver until February. Cord had rushed to build the 100 cars needed to qualify for the show, and the transmission was not ready. Even so, Cord took many orders at the show, promising Christmas delivery, expecting production of 1000 per month; the semi-automatic transmission was more troublesome than expected, and 25 December came and went with no cars built.In all, Cord managed to sell only 1174 of the new 810 in its first model year, all the result of mechanical troubles.
Early reliability problems, including slipping out of gear and vapor lock, cooled initial enthusiasm. Although most new owners loved their sleek fast cars, the dealer base shrank rapidly. Unsold left-over and in-process 1936 810 models were re-numbered and sold as 1937 812 models. In 1937, after producing about 3000 of these cars, Auburn ceased production of the Cord.

This exquisite example of a restored Cord 810 Westchester Sedan has been put up for auction by Cascadia Classics of Portland Oregon. What can I say that the Ebay Listing can’t. This was one of the most beautiful cars built, and it is still a stand out bar none. Wouldn’t you want to own one?

After Cord ceased production, the design and tooling of the sensational 810 and 812 was put up for sale, and there were two rather ailing automakers that decided to work together to produce their versions of this classic sedan. However, I will defer to the Ebay Listing for the Graham Hollywood for a short history lesson (which is somewhat inaccurate):

In 1939 Joe Graham bought the 1936/1937 Cord tooling so as to build the 1940 Hollywood Graham, changing the looks of the front end. Graham badly needed a new car to supplement the poorly selling Sharknose. In 1940 the Hollywood made the news with its looks and its blown engine developed 120 hp. The air cleaner and carburetor were offset due of to height restrictions under its low hood and the unit body was built from the old Cord dies from the cowl rearward. Fenders, hood and front-end sheet metal were new, and the wheelbase was 115 inches, ten inches shorter than the Cord. The frame was shortened from the cowl forward, giving the front fenders a bob-tailed appearance and today the Hollywood is rightly recognized as a classic. Though the design was not a new one, the Hollywood attracted a lot of attention. While driving a prototype back from a trip to Indiana, Joe Graham was stopped by police in Michigan. No ticket, the police just wanted a look at the racy new car. In 1941 the Hollywood horsepower was upped to 125 on the supercharged six. The total number of 1940 and 1941 Hollywood Grahams produced was 1,859.

This Graham Hollywood in this Ebay Listing currently resides on the island of Puerto Rico, no doubt staying there after retirement. This car appears to be in remarkable condition, though the photographer could use a lesson in how to shoot cars. Currently this car is sitting at about half the value of the Cord, which sounds about right, though I don’t expect either of them to sell anywhere near their listing prices (which I’m guessing is somewhere north of $100,000 for he Cord, and about $25,000 for the Hollywood).

These are both pre-war cars that have reached their absolute pinnacle in terms of value, but they were both designs that were arresting in their day. So, to all of the Hoons out there, do either of these classic, pre-war, unique cars do anything for you, or should they just be consigned to a museum? Have your say.

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  1. tonyola Avatar

    Years ago I knew a man who owned a Cord 810 in the '60s. He said it was a heartbreaker because the car was so beautiful but was ridden with problems. Not only were there transmission, engine, and CV-joint issues, the bodies were poorly built and too flexible. EL Cord's empire was already collapsing by 1936, the workers knew that the automaker was doomed, and Cord made far too many shortcuts getting the car into production.
    There was also a Hupmobile version of the Graham Hollywood called the Skylark. The only visual difference was that the upper grille was painted. The Skylark used the old Hupmobile six. All of the Hollywoods and Skylarks were built by Graham. The old Cord bodies proved to be much more expensive to produce than originally thought, sales were minuscule, and both Graham and Hupmobile gave up making cars by 1941.

    1. scroggzilla Avatar

      In the 1965 David Niven movie, "Where The Spies Are", the British government used the promise of fixing his Cord 810 to lure Niven's character back into the espionage business. I saw that movie once, many years ago, and the fact that Cord 810's were "troublesome" is the sole thing I remember about the film. Which says as much about the movie as it does about how my mind works.

      1. Van Sarockin Avatar
        Van Sarockin

        Great movie. I saw it once on TV as a kid and it made a big impression. And the Cord is worth it.

  2. CptSevere Avatar

    I know a little about the Cord, and think they are some of the most beautiful cars ever built, but knew nothing about the reliability issues. This is the first time I've heard of the Graham, I had no idea the Cord tooling was bought by them. What a neat looking car. The Cord is, of course, only for the very rich collector. The Graham isn't priced in the stratosphere, and while it wouldn't be practical to drive it coast to coast, it's not so pricey that you'd have to keep it under glass. One thing you could rest assured of, nobody would roll up next to you at a stoplight driving the same thing.

  3. dmilligan Avatar

    Both of these are lovely cars and it would be great to see them on the road again. I've never heard of the Graham before and the story behind it is interesting. It's a pity that Auburn was in such a hurry to get the Cord produced that they ruined the chances of the car making it in the marketplace, but the Auburn company had issues at the time as I recall. The styling of the Cord is just elegant and a delight to behold.

    1. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

      It's too bad Auburn didn't learn its lesson from the first Cord, the 1929-1932 L-29. The L-29, also FWD, also spectacularly styled, had a whole array of design flaws — transmission problems, poor weight distribution (it could barely climb hills because there was too little weight on the front wheels), and grievously underpowered. Granted, even if it had been perfect, it would have suffered from being an expensive car during the Depression, but it was really too bad.

  4. Stumack Avatar

    I suspect by "Joe Graham" he means Joseph Frazer, who was Graham-Paige's president at the time. Graham's automotive interests effectively morphed into Kaiser-Frazer after the war (the earliest Frazers have Graham-Paige build plates), while the remainder of the company became an investment firm that it today's MSG (Madison Square Garden). Hupp did well from wartime contracts, but never returned to autos, instead moving into other industries, principally HVAC, before ultimately declaring bankruptcy in 1991.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Joseph B. Graham was one of the three brothers who founded Graham-Paige in 1927 when they took over the old Paige firm. Joe Frazer did not assume control of Graham-Paige until 1944 – he had been the president of Willys since 1939 and was one of the driving forces behind the Jeep. During 1944, he headed a consortium that essentially bought Graham-Paige from the Graham brothers.

    2. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

      Graham-Paige did not exactly morph into Kaiser-Frazer — G-P provided some of Kaiser-Frazer's initial capitalization, and there was originally a plan for them to share development costs and production, but Graham-Paige couldn't meet its obligations, so they decided to leave the auto industry and go in other directions. Some early Kaiser-Frazers were built by G-P, but by no means all.
      See here for the whole story: http://ateupwithmotor.com/family-cars/216-kaiser-

  5. Micheal Springer Avatar

    Your blog is so informative ¡­ keep up the good work!!!!

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