Auction Pick of the Week: Supercharged 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton


Owning a vehicle with a supercharged engine and a semi-automatic transmission sounds like the stuff of new-car-showroom fantasies, but there’s one iconic vehicle from the 1930s that put this powertrain in a front-wheel drive platform and wrapped it all in the finest Streamline Moderne sheetmetal. The Cord 810 and 812 were clearly ahead of their time, but suggesting so might not give them enough credit.

That streamlined styling does not explain how a Cord’s lowslung chassis can make the car ride and handle like a newer crossover utility, and that’s indeed the case. Cord’s understated styling never had a peer, though future car designers did an admirable job trying to replicate this magic. It may be from the 1930s, but the Cord 810 and 812 are a vehicle for all ages, all generations.

Then we have this particular Cord 812 up for auction on Hagerty Marketplace, in a fantastic spec with a timeless color palette. Coincidentally, the dark blue color was replicated on a beautiful Ertl diecast of a Cord Sportsman (two seat convertible), which should be considered a mandatory purchase to go with this stunning four-seat Phaeton convertible. This Phaeton is the top-level Cord convertible, and it sold for $2645 in 1937 (roughly $56,000 in 2024 dollars). Roughly 600 convertibles were made, and only 688 Cords were made with the supercharged engine.


To this day the supercharged Cord can run with modern cars on modern motorways, with impressive power and confident handling from that front-wheel-drive  chassis. This performance is essentially unheard of in any other car of the era, and this example is numbers-matching, boasting the same engine it left the factory with. The interior sports freshly reupholstered leather, while the rest of the Cord appears to be an older restoration of high quality. The cosmetic flaws in the paintwork are mostly indicative of age and not neglect.


Details like the engine-turned dashboard trim, wool carpets, and four-speed shifter appear to be in excellent condition. The odometer reads 32,617 but real mileage is unknown. While this example has been stored in a climate controlled building, it is listed in non-running condition, as are all of the well-preserved examples from the John Wilson collection of pre-war antique cars.

The rarity and overall condition of this Cord is truly worthy of a museum, and such a buyer could very well win this car when the auction ends on February 2. Museum centerpiece or street-worthy show car, this Cord is likely to supercharge whatever collection gives it a new home.




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