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Indianapolis 500 Winners Arnold and Hartz and a L29 Cord

Racing driver Billy Arnold and his riding mechanic Spider Matlock dominated and won the 1930 Indianapolis 500 race in a front-wheel drive 1927 Miller racing car converted into a two-man racer by car owner Harry Hartz, a retired racing driver, who was an expert mechanic. Arnold resided in Chicago and apparently drove this 1930 L29 Cord convertible coupe from Illinois to Los Angeles, California where these Richfield Oil Co. publicity photos were taken.

The L29 Cord, first introduced in 1929 used a similar front-wheel drive system with inboard brakes which was designed by Cornelius Van Ranst, an engineer, who earlier worked with Harry Miller the designer and builder of the Miller Racing cars in Los Angeles.

View more photos and learn all about the L29 Cord in earlier coverage here on The Old Motor. The Cord photos are courtesy of the USC Libraries and the winning Miller racing car image courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  

In this May 30, 1930 photo provided by Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Billy Arnold, sitting at right, and his riding mechanic Spider Matlock pose after winning the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Speedway in Indianapolis, Ind. (IMS via AP) ORG XMIT: NY167

1930 L29 Cord 1

1930 L29 Cord 2

24 responses to “Indianapolis 500 Winners Arnold and Hartz and a L29 Cord

  1. Just yesterday, reader Dave Clark brought up the great Gordon Buehrig, and here we are…with one of his designs…agreeing with you Dave on truck design.

  2. Actually, I believe Al Leamy was the designer of the L29 Cord. Buehrig didn’t start at Cord until June 1929 and the L29 was announced before that..

    And except for an error in a Wikipedia entry, I don’t recall ever seeing the engineer who worked on the L29 Cord front drive referred to as Carl Van Ranst. He name was Cornelius Willett Van Ranst and he is so referenced in Ludvigsen’s seminal Golden Age book.

      • No apology necessary in any way.

        Just like to be accurate with history, as errors of fact tend to get repeated and muddy up the waters going forward.

  3. “A lot of today’s Cord owners are running Toronado CV joints… .is this because they are better or just available?”

    Almost certainly because they’re better., though availability may be involved. The modern CV joints are far better made and more durable that the original joints the Cords used.

  4. I wondered about the door panel too. Almost looks like ostrich. But what a beautiful car. Dual white walls, spotlights galore and it’s a convertible. It must have been fun driving to CA in it. I am surprised that riding mechanics were still used in 1930. He doesn’t get his own windshield but at least he’s not hanging off the left side for dear life like his predecessors did. Note the Model A panel truck through the arch in picture #3. It looks bigger than average. Billy Arnold looks sharp alright–all he needs is a pair of two-tone shoes.

  5. The door panel looks like some sort of crushed leather. It’s unusual, that’s for sure.

    Pretty sure it’s not ostrich, which has a very distinctive bird’s eye pattern.

  6. I too am puzzled by the quality of the door panel card. Is it something other than leather? Beat up by the sun or rain in such a short time? I googled pictures of Auburn interiors… of course they’re all gorgeous. No help there. Other thoughts from the readership?

  7. The front bumper of that Cord is finely polished. One can see the surrounding area and likely the photographer in the reflection.

  8. The guy on the left in the first picture looks a lot like Harry Hartz- which seems to be confirmed by the Whittington Studio picture information on file at USC.

  9. The two gents at the front of the car seem to be pointing out some sort of articulation to the center spotlight mount that would what.? …perhaps have allowed it to turn right or left along with the front wheels?

    That pic of fueling the car tho… Yikes, that makes a Pinto seem safe.

  10. I’ll always remember the $6,000 L-29 Cord that came out of South America with Model T Ford U joints on the front end. That was in the late 1970’s, and six grand would have been better spent at the time. Bob

  11. To: Jay Busse & all Old Motor friends: The “PILOT RAY” accessory was NOT a spot lamp! It was an articulated AND (controlled by steering!) Headlamp (s) with Lens elements similar to the car’s OWN 2 Lensed Element (Beam Spreading!) headlamps . They are not intended for “High Beam” use — but they are intended for low speed maneuvering , turning, and SEEING dangerous obstacles, pedestrians and animals and navigating in FOG , SNOW or HEAVY RAIN Perhaps one of the best lighting accessories ever put on a CAR , TRUCK —or “Other”! Operated from the Vehicle’s steering linkage —at a quick RATIO, the light “got there before the car did” These are also provided in Twin Sets , which are calibrated to provide a very complete carpet of “”SEEABILITY” for inclement conditions . A very expensive accessory , the “Twin “units were seen on vehicles like: a 1931 Cadillac V-16 Dual Cowl Phaeton . They do an Excellent job of lighting up approaching CRITTERS on the sides of the back Desert Road between the Phoenix Ball Diamond Concours — and a 10P.M. return to Paradise Valley at Tom Barrett’s Ranch garage facility Circa: 1970. Edwin

  12. A very knowledgeable antique/classic auto upholsterer friend just informed me that the door panel leather on the L29 was a very special leather offered by the Eagle Ottawa Leather Company of Ohio in the 20’s and 30’s. He actually has samples!

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