<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 135
From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years
1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR
Coachwork by Murphy & Co.

Sold for US$ 1,760,000 inc. premium
From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years
1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR
Coachwork by Murphy & Co.

Chassis no. 2926823
Engine no. FD 2410

298.6ci L-Head Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
Updraft Schebler Carburetor
125hp
3-Speed Manual Transmission
Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes, with Inboard Front Brakes

*Rare custom bodied Cord L-29
*One of four L-29 Murphy Town Cars built, only short wheelbase to survive
*Famed Hollywood history car
*Remarkable unrestored and well-preserved example
*An ACD Club Category No.1 Certified car


THE CORD L-29

Errett Lobban Cord introduced the L-29 in 1929 as a gap-filling model priced between his Cord Corporation's Auburn and Duesenberg lines, the latter being totally redesigned that year. Powered by a straight-eight 'flat head' engine built by Lycoming – another of Cord's companies – the L-29 featured front-wheel drive, then much in vogue at Indianapolis. An avid race fan, Cord had been impressed by the performance of the Harry Miller-designed front-wheel-drive Junior 8 Special, and in 1926 purchased the passenger-car rights to Miller's fwd designs. Cornelius Van Ranst was hired to assist with development, and by November 1927 the first prototype was ready for testing and assessment by Fred Duesenberg, Cord's Chief Engineer. Staff designer Al Leamy contributed the stylish coachwork, which was underpinned by Van Ranst's X-braced chassis frame – the world's first.

Production of the new car, now dubbed 'L-29', commenced at the Auburn, Indiana plant in April 1929 with a two-day press launch in June. The advantages conferred by the L-29's front-wheel-drive layout, chiefly, a low centre of gravity and increased passenger space, were immediately apparent; while the freedom its low-slung frame gave coachbuilders meant that the Cord was soon attracting the attention of master craftsmen on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed, many connoisseurs consider the L-29 to be the most stylish American car of the period.

The L-29 was offered initially in Sedan, Brougham, Convertible Coupé and Phaeton versions, at prices ranging from $3,095 to $3,295. Unfortunately for Cord, just as his new baby was reaching dealers' showrooms the Wall Street Crash of October 1929 blew away a huge proportion of his intended clientele. Despite a program of price cuts, sales never took off and the world's first practical front-wheel-drive production car was discontinued in 1932. Including cars supplied in chassis form to independent coachbuilders, only 5,010 L-29s were built, of which it is thought that around 300 of all types exist today.

Among all Classic Era automobiles, only very few Cords were actually supplied to coachbuilders, as a result of the timing of the depression and owing to the fact that Cord themselves offered factory body styles. This makes Custom bodied Cords not only exceedingly beautiful, but also incredibly rare.

Those that do survive, such as the Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky Coupé, have always been prized.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

Recently rediscovered after having been tucked away in the Pacific Northwest for more than half a century, Bonhams is proud to offer one of the most fabled, important and truly special Cords built from the Estate of Jay Hyde.

Jay Hyde's L-29 is one of a handful of coachbuilt Town Cars about which historians have eulogized and hypothesized almost since they were created. For as much in the past as today, they were connected with movie stars and all the mystique that surround them.

The story goes that Errett Cord, ever keen to garner publicity for his self-named brand particularly in the face of times of austerity, saw Hollywood as the perfect way to promote his new front wheel drive automobiles and worked to place them in the hands of those in the limelight to provide the needed exposure.

Historians including noted Cord expert Randy Ema and Dick Greene confirm that there are four surviving L-29 Town Cars known to have been built in this era by noted West Coast Coachbuilder, Murphy & Co. of Pasadena. Murphy & Co. were of course closely associated with Duesenberg, providing the lion's share of their coachwork in the late 1920s. The results were as fine a collaboration as there ever was between a manufacturer and a coachbuilder; the stylists at Murphy creating stunning Town Cars on the low slung front wheel drive chassis of the L29. Bold, rakish, menacing, refined, and svelte, all of these words spring to mind when one views these cars today. They truly encapsulate the Roaring Twenties and the Silver Screen. It is easy to imagine a star stepping gracefully from the rear compartment onto the red carpet, the celebrity seeming larger than life against the backdrop of the low profile of one of these Cords.

Two of the cast in this tale were John Barrymore and Dolores Del Rio, important actors who successfully traversed from the 'Silent' picture era to the 'Talkies' of the 1930s. It is said that the third was owned by another, lesser known actor Lola Montez and Cord himself owned the fourth.

John Barrymore was arguably the most famous of them all. Discovered by Warner Brothers following his successful portrayal of Hamlet and in the early movie version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Barrymore joined Warner Brothers Studio in 1924, moving onto MGM subsequently where he appeared alongside Greta Garbo in Grand Hotel, among other notable movies. Unfortunately, his latter days were tainted by reports of his volatile nature and alcoholism which he ultimately would die from. Lola Montez's star seems to have shone more briefly, while Dolores Del Rio had the longest career of all. Born in Durango, Mexico in 1905, she enjoyed both a Hollywood career in the 1920s and 1930s, before returning to her home and becoming a star of Mexican Cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. In this first stage, she was noted for her roles in the silent films Resurrection and Ramona. She was held in such high esteem that she was one of the famous actors who United Artists brought together for The Dodge Brothers Hour radio show at Mary Pickford's home, where her rendition of the song Ramona clearly showed her capability for the new era that was confronting these actors. Her 1930s credits included the famous Astaire and Rogers film Flying Down to Rio, Madame du Barry and Bird of Paradise, but even her star began to fade as the decade drew on. In the era of these Cord Town Cars, she was married to Cedric Gibbons, the famous designer who created the Oscar statuette and was also a Duesenberg owner - so this couple would certainly have appreciated the great styling. A relationship with Orson Welles in the 1940s, with whom she attended the premiere of his magnum opus Citizen Kane, and later marriage to director Lewis A. Riley Jr. was followed by a growing career back home in Mexico. By the 1960s, she returned again to Hollywood and would star alongside Elvis Presley in Flaming Star, while roles on television and screen extended through to the late 1970s.

Helpfully, at least three of the four L29 Murphy Town Cars are distinguishable from each other by merit of the fact that three were constructed on 152 1/2 inch 'long' wheel base chassis, while the other one was built on 'short' standard 137 5/8 inch wheel base chassis – the differential being easily seen in photos. Added to this, one of the longer cars had side mounted spares, while another had rear mounted spares.

John Barrymore's car is universally accepted as having been the longer wheelbase, rear mounted spares car, while a number of conflicting reports apportion different cars to the Screen Sirens. It is indeed possible that none of the cars were actually owned by these people but that marketing genius Cord engineered loans of the cars to the Studios and high profile celebrities, and perhaps photo opportunities also. But as the saying goes, 'there is usually no smoke without a fire.'

This Town Car has been known as the Dolores Del Rio car since the 1950s, an attribution which has never been definitively deciphered, nor denied, but should not distract from the fact that it is a hugely important automobile for its rarity. It is one of the most exquisite pieces of design of its time and the fact that it has survived its 85 years in almost totally preserved and unspoilt condition makes it a true timewarp condition automobile, and all the more magnificent for it.

The shorter wheelbase versions of Murphy's Town Cars were ultra-compact, yet beautifully proportioned and with incredible intricate detail to their waist moldings which appear to dip and roll into the chauffeur compartment. In keeping with its simplicity of form, roll up windows were omitted, maintaining the car's aesthetics. Without the side-mounted spares, the body line is unbroken and the design uncompromised. The overall height is a little over 5 feet from the ground, and the passenger compartment is delightfully small and discrete. With the characteristic single pane Murphy windshield heavily raked back and spares neatly positioned at the tale, it has all the hallmarks of the legendary Bugatti Royale Coupe Napoleon, and is frequently referred to as one of the most beautiful American cars ever built.

Whoever it escorted around Los Angeles in the pre-war era, by the 1950s the car had migrated north to Oregon State and became the property of Fred Thorsen. Jay Hyde negotiated its sale and became its most recent owner in 1959. Even in those days, both Hyde and George Jepson, then owner of one of the long wheelbase Town Cars, tried to define the former ownership of their cars. Jepson went to great length, even writing to Dolores Del Rio in 1959, though tantalizingly without a response.

Mr. Hyde proudly owned and maintained this jewel of a car for more than 55 years until his passing last year. Although known of, it was very rarely seen publicly. In 1987, after heavy campaigning by Lorin Tryon, it emerged to be shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance alongside others of its breed in a class devoted solely to Custom bodied Cords. It was last seen publicly at the 2000 edition of the Forest Grove Concours. Hyde preferred simply to enjoy his possession of this special automobile, rather than to share it publicly and risk any damage to its remarkable patina.

Back in its heyday the Cord must have seen only modest use and must have been clearly prized, as it certainly has been in its recent tenure. Such careful custody throughout its eight decades has ensured that it has survived in an incredibly well-preserved state to this day. Almost all of the paintwork is thought to be original, as is its interior, right down to the safety glass which delaminated over time, earning it the nickname of the 'Pumpkin car'.

Today originality and preserved condition are attributes that are fortunately appreciated and it is certain that this important automobile would make a welcome return to the show fields in the Preservation category anywhere in the world. In preparation for its sale, it has recently been sympathetically cleaned and mechanically checked over. It has been revived and is reported to be running well.

It would be hard to find a more authentic or interesting automobile, be it for its condition, styling or Hollywood intrigue, where it falls into the category of 'if only they could speak' – and yet that is all part of its great allure.

Please refer to department

Saleroom notices

  • Bonhams is delighted to report that following our marketing of this car, Mr. Pierce Carlson reached out to our team of specialists, informing us that he purchased the Cord in Hollywood in 1951 from the former lawyer for Dolores del Rio. He understood that Ms. Del Rio had left the car to her lawyer when she migrated south to Mexico for the second part of her movie career. Mr. Carlson acquired the car with Fred Thorsen who would later take ownership of it and then in turn sell it to Jay Hyde. Photographs of the car from Mr. Carlson's archives, of when the car arrived in the Pacific Northwest after it had been driven from Los Angeles, are now published on our website. Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.
Contacts
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
<i>From the Estate of Jay Hyde, owned for more than 55 years</i><br /><B>1930 CORD MODEL L-29 TOWN CAR  </b><br />Chassis no. 2926823 <br />Engine no. FD 2410
Auction information

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