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Cord, a Grand Old American Car Brand, Is up for Sale, Trademark and All


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Car & Driver  /  August 31, 2019

Could the middle name in the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg trio be about to make a comeback?

  • Will the unlikely rebirth of the classic Cord automotive brand begin today? The name is up for auction at Auburn, Indiana, this weekend.

  • The middle name of the legendary Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg trio did not emerge from the Great Depression unscathed, and its trademark was last sold in 2014 without sparking a renaissance.

  • But think of the possibilities for retro Cord-branded clothing, toys, and model cars.

Some people go to car auctions to buy cars. Others go to buy car companies.

Classic-car fans from both categories are converging on Auburn, Indiana, this weekend for the 12th annual Auburn Auction. Alongside gorgeous options like a 1951 Studebaker Commander convertible or a 1948 Tucker Model 48 sedan (pictured below) that are up for sale, there's a "ran when parked" sort of entry. Instead of an actual vehicle, Lot 44 is for the Cord trademark. The auction lot includes the whole package, which means the trademark itself as well as the licensing and manufacturing rights to build new Cord automobiles.

The last time the Cord trademark was sold was in 2014, when what was essentially the same lot as what will be available this weekend was sold for $242,000. The new lot has some updated paperwork, according to Worldwide Auctioneers spokesperson Jo Snyder, who also told Car and Driver that there has been "significant interest" in this auction.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Cord was a popular luxury American automotive brand that made a mark with its 810 and 812 models (like the 1937 Cord 812 Sportsman convertible coupe at top). The brand did not survive the Great Depression and was sold to the Aviation Corporation, which attempted a revival in the 1940s. Another small-scale revival took place in the 1960s thanks to Glenn Pray, an auto mechanics high-school teacher, who bought the rights to what had become the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Company. Pray sold off the Auburn trademark in 2005 for $500,000, and his family then sold the Cord trademark in 2014.

Now that it's available again to any qualified, registered bidders, the Cord trademark could be used by a new buyer to license Cord parts, make Cord-branded clothing and model toys or, perhaps, start up a new vehicle like with the classic name.

"This is a rare and substantial opportunity to reinvent an iconic marque and all that is associated with it," said John Kruse, Worldwide Auctioneers principal. "Our hope is that a brave new future for Cord will begin again here."

There's some precedent for classic brands to find a new home in today's global automotive industry. The Borgward brand, for example, quietly went away in Germany in the 1960s, but was revived after it was purchased by the Chinese company Beiqi Foton Motor in 2015.

If buying the Cord trademark is a bit rich for your blood but you're still a fan of the look, the "highly preserved" 1937 Cord 812 Sportsman convertible coupe shown at top will also cross the auction block in Auburn this weekend. It's nice to have options.


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 One small issue is E.L. Cord in 1938 sold all the engineering drawings, body tooling and design rights a pair of co joined auto makers. Graham Paige - Huppmobile made the  Skylark  and produced it also as the Hollywood. The rights, tooling and drawings were later was purchased by the Rootes Group, who still owns the design rights today.  So I guess basically you are buying the right to use the Cord name.

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 “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy shit, what a ride!’


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