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Detroit Auburn – Cord Sales and Service

By the time these photos were taken (we’re guessing it was around 1929 or 1930) the Indiana upstart, Auburn, had already been building quality cars for more than 25 years. Here they have invaded Michigan and these reputable looking gentlemen are hawking their two lines of cars right in the “Big Three’s” backyard, Detroit. Aside from selling Auburns and Cords, the sign in the window on the right announces some “Good Used Cars Cheap : Hudson Sedan, $225, Chandler Coach, $150, Dodge Sedan, $125, Cadillac 4-Passenger Coupe, $100. All cars with license.” But it’s kind of hard for us to know just how good a deal these really were, since they conveniently neglected to mention the model year of each of these potential bargains.

But the big news there had to be their revolutionary Cord L-29. Introduced in 1929, the drivetrain was largely the brainchild of Auburn chief engineer C.W. Van Ranst who brought his not inconsiderable talents to the table. Above you can see a clear image of the entire drivetrain from the June 19, 1929 issue of Automotive Industries. We also found the thumbnails (below) showing a different angle on the engine and transaxle (left) and it’s intricate inner workings (right) in the same issue. The center image shows what we think might be an L-29 prototype based on the axle’s placement in front of the differential cover and what appears to be an Indiana manufacturer’s license plate.

Alan Leamy gets the credit for the graceful sweeping lines of the low slung body, made possible by the compact front wheel drive configuration.  It created a sensation both here and abroad, eventually receiving 39 awards at 23 Concours events in Europe. At the time, ground breaking architect Frank Lloyd Wright remarked, “it looks becoming to the houses I design!”


More interesting L29 Cord photos (scroll down) on The Old Motor. Top and bottom photos courtesy of Jerry Lettieri

5 responses to “Detroit Auburn – Cord Sales and Service

  1. Now those are what I call serious headlights!! Can anyone identify the make of the lamps for me?

    • Eddie….We were thinking the very same thing, but they appear to be original equipment.

      Hopefully an Auburn expert can tell us which lamp maker the company used at the time?

  2. Most of the information I’ve gotten on the reliability and durability of various automobiles from the twenties and thirties came from my Dad who was a mechanic. He particularly liked Auburn for its Lycoming engines which he judged to be excellent . Good also, according to his accounting ,were Hupmobile, Reo and Hudson-Essex. After all this time, is any reader aware of anything but this sort of anecdotal evidence on reliability? There was no Consumer Digest to do this work at the time. Acronyms of the day don’t count (eg. EMF “Every Mile Fix It!”)

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