The “Coffin Nosed” Car… 1936/37 Cord 812

By Chip Pearce of Chip’s Hotrod Garage

The “Coffin Nosed” Car… 1936/37 Cord 812 photo

The Cord Model 812 is an Art Deco masterpiece that graced the automotive world in the mid-1930s. When we talk about timeless classics, this is one of those rare breeds that instantly comes to mind. The 812 not only showcased the zenith of Art Deco styling in automobiles, but it also highlighted the boundless ambitions of the era it came from. Dive in with me as we explore this awe-inspiring machine, dissecting its history, understanding its designer, and marveling at its specifications and collectibility.

A Brief History

The 1930s were a transformative period for the automobile industry. Manufacturers sought to outdo each other, not only with technology but also with artistic flair. Enter the Cord Corporation, an automobile company that stood out in its pursuit of innovation.

In 1936, the Cord Model 810 was unveiled, leaving spectators spellbound. It was revolutionary, to say the least. But it's the 1937 model, christened the 812, which became the automobile that everyone was talking about. It’s distinctively squared-off front end and streamlined horizontally louvered grille design earned it the durable nickname “coffin nose.”

The Mind Behind the Machine: Gordon Buehrig

In the vast realm of automobile design, few names stand out as distinctly as that of Gordon Buehrig. His touch was like Midas; everything he worked on seemed to turn into gold. Tasked with designing the Cord's latest offering, Buehrig did not disappoint. He gave the world the 'coffin-nosed' Cord.

Gordon was a maestro, blending form and function seamlessly. He envisioned a vehicle that wasn’t just a means of transport but also an art piece that would stand the test of time. And boy, did he deliver!

At its heart, the Cord 812 wasn’t just about aesthetics. Beneath its captivating facade lay a powerhouse of innovation. The car boasted a V8 engine, providing an exhilarating ride that many of its contemporaries could only dream of. Its front-wheel-drive system, which was quite unusual for its time, allowed for a unique and low-slung design.  If you needed more horsepower, you could option in a Supercharged engine.

The Cord 812 was also among the first vehicles to feature retractable headlights. This was not only a brilliant functional idea but it added to its futuristic appeal. Driving it was a statement – you weren't just traveling from one point to another; you were announcing your arrival.

Art Deco at Its Best

The 1930s were marked by the distinctive Art Deco movement, characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation. The Cord 812, in many ways, encapsulated this trend. Its sleek lines, chrome trims, and the iconic coffin nose front design made it a moving sculpture, representing the opulence and optimism of the Art Deco era

Rarity & Collectibility

As with all good things, the Cord 812 was not meant to last forever. Production challenges, coupled with the economic tremors of the time, meant that only a limited number of these beauties were ever manufactured. This scarcity has only fueled its legend.

Today, the 812 is one of the most sought-after collector cars. Its rarity combined with its undeniable beauty makes it a crown jewel in any classic car collection.

The 812's Value in Today's World 

So, how much would you need to fork out to get your hands on one of these? The value of the Cord 812 has witnessed a steady appreciation over the years.  Fully restored Cord 812’s have fetched anywhere from $100,000 to over $300,000 at auctions, depending on their condition and provenance.

The 1936 & 1937 Cord Model 812 stands as a testament to a bygone era when cars were not just machines but expressions of art, ambition, and innovation. It embodies a time when design wasn’t just about aesthetics but about pushing boundaries. And in its beauty, it reminds us of the boundless potential that lies when passion meets creativity.

So, here's to the Cord Model 812 – a timeless marvel, forever etched in the annals of automotive history. For those lucky enough to see or own one, it's not just a car; it's a piece of art, history, and a bygone era's soul. Cheers to the classic that never goes out of style!

Are you interested in buying a Cord 812 for your collection?  Well here’s your opportunity.  Pearce & Associates Auction Company along with our collector car auction brand,,  is selling a beautiful, restored 1936 Cord 812 at auction.  This online auction features over a dozen vintage pre & post war era automobiles from the private collection of the late Dr C.T. Adams in Parkersville, West Virginia.  Dr Adams was a dental surgeon and WWII Veteran and his lifetime hobby was restoring, collecting and showing antique automobiles.   Dr Adams was a regular car show participate of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg festival in Auburn, Indiana each year and also had several of his pre war automobiles on display at the White House during its annual Easter party on the White House lawns.  

We are selling an unusual collection of automobiles from Dr Adams estate including this Cord 812, 1921 Packard, 1937 Lincoln, 1931 Plymouth Touring, 1931 Ford Model A Truck, 1922 Ford Model T, 1929 Durant & a 1919 Hupmobile, as well as several others.  

You can follow the auction, register & bid online @  Online bidding for this important estate ends August 9th @ 7:00pm eastern time.