1929 Cord L-29 Convertible Sedan
Engine: Lycoming Straight 8
Displacement: 298 Cubic Inches
Horsepower: 115 BHP
Cost New: $3,095.00
The L-29 was designed to fill the price gap between the E.L. Cord's 8-cylinder Auburns and his exotic Duesenbergs. The shrewed businessman was putting his name on the vehicle and wanted to make something unique. He hired well-known race car builders Harry Miller and Cornelius Van Ranst to engineer the new car. Both were Indy Race veterans and proponents of the "horse-pulls-cart" theory of automotive design. This was the driving force behind making the L-29 the first American front-wheel drive production car. The technology was still very new and led to many problems for the Cord. The drivetrain forced a large wheelbase, 137.5 inches, which led to most of the weight shifting to the rear of the vehicle. The change in balance led to serious lack of traction on the front wheels. The durability of the u-joints were not able to stand up to the braking, steering and driving of the car, and they were out with unforgiving frequency. Cord rushed production of the car and the engineers did not have enough time to correct the problem. The car was beautifully designed and, though there were some reliability issues, its styling was very well received. This did little to help people overcome their apprehension of the new front-wheel drive technology and the car sold poorly overall. The line was put on hold in 1932, selling only 5010 cars in its three year run.