The automotive history in this
site deals primarily with the Cord
replicas manufactured in the 1960's and 1970's. Specifically, the Cord
Sportsman 8/10 and the Cord automobile referred to as the S.A.M.C.O. models of that time
1929 to 1937.
The Cord Corporation founded
by Errett Lobban Cord
(1894-1974) established a holding company that produced the Cord Automobile along with the Auburn and
Duesenberg Automobiles in Indiana. Other transportation entities included in the Cord
Corporation were Stinson Aircraft, Checker Cab and American Airways which
later became American Airlines.
1937. After building some of
the finest and most beautiful automobiles in the world, with
revolutionary designs, The Depression catches up with
the Cord and Cord Automobile files for bankruptcy.
1937 to 1941. Bankruptcy and
legal proceedings occupy the trustees time and no effort to continue
manufacturing cars was attempted. E. L. Cord became the victim
of legal proceedings, including an order by the U. S. Securities and
Exchange Commission that
dealt the company its final blow. Cord moved to California, where he became
successful in real estate and broadcasting. He later relocated to Nevada
where he served as a State Representative.
1941 to 1945. World War II
effectively curtailed all auto
production in the U.S. The Cord Corporation was dissolved and became
The Aviation Corporation and is known to this day as AVCO-Lycoming.
1945 to 1960. The Cord
automobile effort was dormant, except for the beginning of some
1960 to 1963. U.S. Rubber
Company and Gordon Buehrig, the original Cord designer, joined efforts in redesigning a
scaled down version of the original Model 810 Cord body. Glenn Pray
acquires the original Cord Automobile Company and relocates to Broken
1964 to 1966. Wayne McKinley a Chevrolet
Dealer of O'Fallon, Illinois helps finance the manufacturing of the new
Cord Sportsman 8/10. With a Chevrolet
Corvair power plant, and front wheel drive, the new version of the
original 8/10 Cord features a convertible top, and a body composite called Royalex® developed by U.S. Rubber Company. However, a lack of
financial oversight and manufacturing experience by the companies original
participants from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, doom any long term possibilities
of mass production of the 8/10 model Cord. Leroy Duncan and Wayne
McKinley stay through until 97 of the Corvair-powered Sportsman's
Though impressive in outward appearance, the
fire-prone and often controversial Corvair engine along with the car's poor
handling characteristics proved too much to overcome.
The manufacturing goal of
ten cars per day was never achieved and persistent financial
difficulties pushed the company into bankruptcy by 1967. However, the car with such a popular and
timeless design would not be forgotten, and soon captured the attention
of another manufacturing genius.
1967- 1968. William
P. Lear, father of the LearJet and President of The LearJet
Company in Wichita, Kansas, expressed interest in the now bankrupt Cord Automobile
Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Local businessman, Oklahoma State Legislator and Lear
friend, Howard Williams, further excited Lear's interest and the company
soon became the
Sports Automobile Manufacturing Company
former production Vice-President Bill Landers, seen with Lear in this
early Lear Jet production meeting, would head
manufacturing arm of the new company, while Howard Williams would preside
over sales, distribution and dealer relations.
LEAR'S INVOLVEMENT IN
THE CORD AUTOMOBILE:
Lear's ongoing interest in the
Cord was a result of his desire to equip an automobile with his Lear Vapor
Turbine Engine, but his efforts were later refocused on mass transit
vehicles. He had made a valiant effort with
several million dollars of his own money in building a workable
low-emission propulsion system.
Long after Lear sold out to Gates Rubber Company, Lear pursued
the building of his LearFan airplane in Reno, Nevada. Later, Howard Williams and former
Oklahoma Congressman Victor Wickersham, aided Lear in locating financing from the Middle East for his
LearFan aircraft project. Lear died of leukemia in 1978 never seeing the
maiden flight of his LearFan in 1981.
A SECOND GENERATION OF
CORD'S IS INTRODUCED
1968 to 1970. Sporting a new redesigned
body, the Cord was reintroduced
again in the late 60's. This time, with plenty of horsepower. The
model Cords rolled out of the Tulsa factory in two different models, The
Warrior and Royale. The Warrior, with a 108 inch wheel base, and the extended version Royale
with a 113 inch wheel base. Both models came equipped with either a Ford
302 engine, or the Chrysler 440 Magnum engine. The factory soon
moved its production work to the Keystone Lake community of Mannford,
Oklahoma West of Tulsa.
During this three year period, some 400 cars were built eclipsing the
earlier production models of 1966.
1971 to 1974. Carl Renstrum, owned the
SAMCO manufacturing facility
and had invested millions of dollars into the
project. Renstrum made a decision to convert the
automobile factory into a motor
home factory which brought an end to the production run for the SAMCO model
Cord automobiles. Later, Williams acquired all of the investors' interest in
the Cord automobile project from the investors.
1975 to 1982. A few Cord
automobiles were restored and sold through Williams' effort and help.
Millions of dollars in molds and tooling were being stored in a field West
of Tulsa when a grassfire destroyed most all of the tooling, except for a body mold
recovered by Williams.
With the deaths of E. L. Cord in 1974, and Bill
Lear in 1978, Williams' efforts to have both of these great entrepreneurs involved in the
resurrection of the Cord Automobile came to an end.
1983 to 1985. Gene
Bicknell, former Chairman and CEO of NPC International (National Pizza Company)
and life-long friend of Howard Williams,
expressed an interest in the project and decided
to help preserve the history of the Cord automobile by assisting Williams
in bringing this project
back to life. The first Cord of this period was built using a
modified Oldsmobile Cutlass frame and power plant. A
redesigned windshield and enlarged cockpit were also added. Howard
Williams and Gene Bicknell look over the first car in this
1986 - 2000.
Limited work continued with improvements to the drive assembly and power plant.
New automotive technologies evolve. Foreign automobile manufacturer's
dominate the U.S. car market. Gasoline prices quadruple.
2000 - 2011.
A growing interest among a new generation of car enthusiasts emerges, and
new owners of Cord automobiles throughout North America and Europe work toward
preservation and restoring the Cords of the late 60's and early
70's. Using the original body design from the late 60's, with improved front end
suspension, a streamlined power plant and enlarged cockpit, a Cord for a
new generation is introduced.
70 years since its
beginning, this fabulous automobile, through its many evolutions,
continues to travel down roads all over the world.