by Willy Vinton
Our museum is fortunate to have a well-preserved, 1931 Cord Series L29 Cabriolet (serial #2929409). The Cord was America's first production front-wheel drive car. The exceptionally long hood was needed to house the 299 cubic-inch Lycoming straight-eight engine, transmission and differential--with the latter two sitting in front of the engine. The chassis sits unusually low due to the absence of a conventional rear-wheel driveline.
This Cord is one of the jewels of our collection. It has so much character and style, as well as being a mechanical marvel for its time. Besides being the first to bring front-wheel drive to mass production, the Cord was a design masterpiece. The low profile and long fenders gave the car a racy look, while the sharply veed grille, elegantly curved fenders, split bumper and oval cover on the front transaxle assembly made a Cord instantly recognizable.
Our Cord L29 had been parked for a year, so we took it out last week for a shakedown run to see if any new problems needed to be addressed. Lo and behold, we found a couple. The left front brake grabbed rather violently, which got my attention rather quickly as we don't want to cause damage to any of the cars. It appears that the inner seal leaked differential lube into the brake drum, which caused the brake to grab. Add this to the list of projects to address this winter. There is never a shortage of work to do on the cars! After a little work on the door to get the linkage free and working like it should, the Cord is now back onto the floor until we're ready to do the seal replacement.
The Cord was one of the very first cars museum owner Tim Cerny purchased for the collection, which now includes over 80 vehicles. Tim finally got a chance to drive the Cord for the first time last week. Like most of the cars, it put a smile on his face and for a few moments took his mind off all the stresses of life. Old cars do that for you.