Cord Complete Recalls an Automotive Icon [Book Review]

Cord Complete Recalls an Automotive Icon [Book Review]

1937 Cord 812 Cabriolet

In this day of e-books, an undertaking to publish a book—an actual, tangible book made of paper and ink—can seem almost quaint. When you choose to publish that real, actual book on the topic of cars, the idea is not only quaint, but quite possibly sales-proof. A book about Corvettes or Mustangs might find buyers, but a book about the Cord automobile, arguably the most advanced and sophisticated American car of the 1930s? A car that ceased production almost 80 years ago? Such an endeavor would have to be driven by a true passion for the marque, not by some publisher’s bottom line.

And so it is with Cord Complete, a book that is the culmination of a lifelong infatuation with that magnificent front-wheel-drive legend by its author, the late Josh B. Malks, and aided by the book’s art director/publisher, Robert Pease. Malks and Pease together not only owned many examples of Cords, but Malks also spent years spelunking in the archives of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, researching the brief but pyrotechnical history of his beloved automaker. His initial work on the subject, Cord 810/812: The Timeless Classic, became the reference book for the models, only to be supplanted by his more recent Cord Complete.

Cord Complete Recalls an Automotive Icon [Book Review]

The use here of the word “complete,” is probably inaccurate, however. “Comprehensive” might be a more fitting choice, or “ exhaustive” or “unabridged.”

No matter the wording; the result is the same. The book is an enormous tome, weighing in at a hefty seven pounds, with 304 dense pages lovingly adorned with hundreds of diagrams, charts, period advertisements, and illustrations, as well as rich color and black-and-white photographs. Attentive readers will be rewarded with details such as the slipcase design that echoes the terrazzo floor of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg showroom. The design of the book’s cover pays tribute to the embossed service-manual binder provided to dealers. The cover itself is crafted in leather dyed to match the hide interior of Cords trimmed in green.

Here you will learn what type of oil was used in the testing of the 810’s transmission (40 grade), how many featured the installation of a factory-engineered rear-mounted spare tire (six), and the diameter of the supercharged engine’s fuel line (three-eighths of an inch). Sadly, you will also learn how much the remaining Cord parts, assemblies, toolings, dies, and patterns at the factory in Connersville, Indiana, were sold for in 1938 after bankruptcy ($45,000).

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As a piece of automotive artwork and history, Cord Complete is now priced at a bargain similar to the company’s bankruptcy sale: The book’s price has been marked down from its original $159 to $80, plus $10 for domestic shipping. It’s well worth it—I bought a copy for my personal library. I suggest you do the same.

To order:

(800) 935–6913

Cord Complete Recalls an Automotive Icon [Book Review]

About Kirk Seaman