as first action under UNESCO patronage of FIVA World Motoring Heritage Year

FIVA’s latest initiative to mark World Motoring Heritage Year 2016 is the presentation of a series of awards for Best Preserved Vehicle at top concours events around the world – followed by an end-of-year invitation for the award-winning cars to assemble in Paris, where they will be put on display at UNESCO’s international headquarters in the heart of the French Capital.

FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens or international federation of historic vehicles) established the awards to recognise vehicles that retain such a high degree of their original components, materials and finishes that they can be seen as important cultural artefacts.

The first award for 2016 was presented at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance (10-12 March), to the highly deserving c.1930 Cord L-29 (s/n 2926823) with custom body by the Walter M. Murphy Company, owned by Dan Davis of Jacksonville, Florida.

When presenting the award, Mark Gessler, Vice President of FIVA and President of HVA (the representative for FIVA in the United States and Canada), commented, “It is fitting that the recognition of this wonderfully preserved Cord L-29 follows immediately on from the news that UNESCO has granted its official patronage to FIVA’s World Motoring Heritage Year 2016. Over the last seven years, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance has worked with FIVA and the Historic Vehicle Association to help ensure that stewardship of unrestored vehicles is widely celebrated and strongly encouraged.”

The Cord L-29 built by the E. L. Cord Company of Auburn, Indiana, was arguably the first practical production car to feature front-wheel drive and was considered one of the most elegant designs of the period. About 5,000 Cord L-29 models were produced between 1929 and 1931 in saloon, brougham, convertible coupé and convertible saloon body styles. This particular example (s/n 2926823) is one of just several Cord L-29 chassis that were sent to the Walter M. Murphy Company in Pasadena, Calif. for custom coachwork. It is the only known example of the Murphy town car body style built on the Cord L-29 ‘standard’ 137½-inch wheelbase chassis.

In the early 1950s, this particular Cord L-29 was reputedly owned by E.L. Cord’s daughter, before being sold to Fred Thorenson. Jay Hyde purchased the car from Thorensen in 1959 and maintained it in original condition until his passing in 2014. Dan Davis purchased the car at Bonhams’ Amelia Island auction in 2015. Overall, the vehicle is exceedingly well preserved for its age and among the most well-preserved automobiles from the era. The exterior, interior, engine and other mechanical components are original to the vehicle, showing the careful stewardship of its owners.

“I am honoured the Cord L-29 Murphy Town Car has received this special preservation award during FIVA’s World Motoring Heritage Year,” said Dan Davis, owner. “This is a unique car and it deserves to be recognised as an important cultural icon for future generations to enjoy.”

“My father, Jay Hyde, owned this car for over 50 years,” added Kimberly Thompson, Hyde’s daughter. “Growing up, the Cord was always considered to be one of the family. We cherished our time with the car and always knew it was something special.”

Circa 1930 Cord Front-Wheel Drive (L-29) Custom Town Car*

  • Chassis no.: 2926823
  • Model: SD (standard wheelbase = 137½ inches)
  • Engine: Lycoming in-line 8-cylinder L-head
  • Displacement: 298.6 c.i.
  • Maximum hp: 125
  • Engine no.: FD 2410
  • Transmission: 3-speed manual
  • Brakes: 4-wheel hydraulic drum
  • Coachwork: Walter M. Murphy Co. (Pasadena, California); one of four built

* precise completion date not known