Erret Cord had a controlling interest in Auburn, Duesenburg and Lycoming during the 1920s. Launched in 1935 by the Auburn Automobile Company, the Cord car incorporated unheard of advances in styling and engineering at that time, including retracting headlamps and, a first for the American market, front-wheel drive combined with independent suspension.
The 812 model was introduced in the 1936 model year and featured a supercharged 4.7-litre V8 Lycoming engine, electronically controlled Bendix transmission with overdrive fourth speed, the supercharged version sporting distinctive flexible exhausts from both bonnet sides and across into the front wings.
The Schwitzer-Cummins supercharger fitted to the 812 offered nearly 200bhp, 'Mormon Meteor' Ab Jenkins achieving 121mph in one. The most coveted of the Cord models, in 1949 the Cord was selected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York as one of the ten finest all-time examples of general industrial design, the 1959 Lotus Elite being the only other car to be exhibited. Costing more than twice as much as a Cadillac and four times that of a Ford V8, the Cord went out of production in 1937, succumbing to the American depression.
Hailed by the The Autocar's automotive artist, F. Gordon Crosby as ''a fine piece of bold and original design work'', the 'coffin-nosed Cord' pioneered the use of retractable headlamps, which in this case were modified landing lights from Stinson aircraft, another company in the complex business empire controlled by the eponymous Errett Lobban Cord.