Time Magazine coverage of the 1937 Automobile Show

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09 Dec 2011 03:18 #21591 by streamliner
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09 Dec 2011 03:47 #21592 by Chris Summers
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I always heard E.L. Cord's response to Alex's explanation was, "Damn lucky for you that I like it." Any truth to that?

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09 Dec 2011 07:40 #21593 by streamliner
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Chris Summers Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:47 pm Post subject:



I always heard E.L. Cord's response to Alex's explanation was, "Damn lucky for you that I like it." Any truth to that?


From Alex's as yet unpublished biography/autobiography:

...Bonnelli still is jumping up and down, clasping his hands and shouting to Faulkner that he wants this car when E. L. Cord arrives on the scene. He has an angry look on his face.

"My name is E. L. Cord, and according to that sign right there it says that this is the Cord Corporation display. Right? Well, how come I'm the last to know that we are showing a car like this?"

It's difficult to determine how much of the anger is real, but it sounds real enough.

"Mr. Cord, this thing all happened so fast. We got carried away with it. You never minded the fires of hell that poured out of the side of the Duesenbergs and we wanted to surprise you, thinking you would like this. We've gone the Duesenberg one better, we've got pipes coming out of both sides."

Cord took one more sweeping look at the unprecedented car that bore his name and said: "You're just goddam lucky this turned out to be a beautiful car. You did a heluva fine job on it, but it would be nice in the future to know what in the hell I'm planning to build." Cord finally smiles...
[/i]

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09 Dec 2011 15:17 #21595 by Josh Malks
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So 23-year-old Alex arrives at Grand Central Palace in New York with two Cords with pipes. And he announces to the sales folks in the Auburn exhibit that they have to remove the two un-piped Cords from their exhibit and replace them with his. (Not a simple task with all the cars in place and the show ready to open.) And none of these people calls Faulkner or Ames or anyone else at Auburn for instructions? And no photographer takes a picture of these startling vehicles? And the post-show press never mentions them?

Yeah, right.

I repeat -- I stand ready to recant and admit my sins if anyone can show me a photograph or document that verifies that there were ever any Cords with outside pipes at the New York Auto Show in November 1936.

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09 Dec 2011 20:30 #21599 by streamliner
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Let me try to shed a little more light on Alex?s account of the events that led up to the New York Auto Show. He went into much greater detail in an early 1970?s write up. Here?s a few excerps. I?ll leave it up to the super-sleuths with access to company records and photos to separate fact from fiction?

[i:1hojy21c]?We have decided to build 30[?!?] super-charged models for the upcoming auto show and I show Faulkner a design I have worked up.? Faulkner looked at the design and agrees it?s beautiful but decries the lack of time to come up with the car by show time.

?What we had proposed was, since we knew the super-charged cars ran a little warmer, was to put the famed Auburn egg-crate louvers on the side of the hood to let a little hot air out. We hadn?t sold Faulkner on our ability to do the car we wanted when he had to leave to get to the New York Auto Show before opening to make arrangements for our spot. He left and said he?d see us at the show when we got there with the cars.?

When Faulkner left, that?s when Alex approached Augie with building three super-charged automobiles with the exhaust pipes flaring out the side of the hood, disappearing into the fenders just like Alex?s drawings. Augie said ?We?ll have to work night and day.?

The shops went to work with E.L. Cord in Chicago and Faulkner in New York, both unaware.

The cars were completed three days before the show opening. ?We checked with the railroad office and found we couldn?t get the autos to New York in time for the show and it suddenly occurred to us that we?re going to have to drive them. We take out of the yard in a mad rush but 30 miles out I discover someone has forgotten to put oil in the crankcase ? the engine freezes. We store it in a service station garage, the other two drive on and I catch an express train to New York to ready the show space.?

The auto show opened on time, but without the two special cars ? the Cords are not there. At 9:00 am, the cars are to be in position for the gates to open at 10. No cars. At 9:30, in roll two dirty, dusty, grime-covered Cords looking like nothing anyone at an auto show has ever seen. Show officials say ?Sorry, too late? but while Tremulis is arguing with the gateman, the two drivers have gotten buckets and rags and have cleaned up the late arrivals and the sight of the two unusual cars so impresses the gateman he tells them to get on into position on the second floor. The two far-out models are wheeled into their spots among the several standard Auburn-Cord show cars.[/i:1hojy21c]

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09 Dec 2011 23:57 #21600 by Josh Malks
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Alex Tremulis was a prodigious talent. His Gyronaut bikes and and his inspired design for the Tucker (All his, except for the front bumper-grille) prove that. In addition to styling, he was an innovative self-taught engineer. He was also a remarkable storyteller. I knew him personally in his later years, and greatly admired his work. And like everyone else, I loved his stories.

But that does not change fiction to fact. I stand by my opinion, based on evidence to date. I will change that opinion when photographs or documents show otherwise.

Here's what Gordon Buehrig wrote on the subject in 1988 --

"The following is a very difficult article for me to write. It is about Alex Tremulis whom many of you know and are aware of the fact that he has lost his eye-sight. . .

. . . The particular piece that prompts this letter is in the September 19 issue of People Magazine. I will repeat the one paragraph in the story that makes this letter necessary: "Alex Tremulis, the man who designed the venerated 812 super-charged Cord, simply walked in the door and offered his services. By working 110 hours a week and by ruthlessly cutting corners, Tremulis and his team knocked off the job in 100 days''.

Alex did not design the 812 super-charged Cord and I am getting tired of hearing this falsehood. When I saw this in the magazine I called Julie Greenwalt in the Detroit office of People magazine. She told me that Kristina Johnson of the Los Angles office had interviewed Alex. She confirmed that she got the false information direct from him.

As you all know the 810 and 812 Cords are identical and the numbers merely tell whether they were sold as 1936 or 1937 models. The super-charged engine was not ready in 1936 and was therefore only sold in 1937.

I have never claimed that I designed these cars without assistance and I have always shared credit with the other four fellows in the design department. When I was moved from Duesenberg in Indianapolis, where I had just designed the proposed "Baby Duesenberg" to Auburn to facelift the 1934 model, creating the 1935 model and the super-charged boat-tail speedster, I inherited two co-workers. One was an illustrator, Paul Lorenzen, and a body draftsman, Dick Robinson. I also hired two model builders, Vince Gardner who had just graduated from high school and Dale Cosper who had just graduated from Tri-State Engineering college.

After doing the 1935 Auburn work, we designed the 810-812 Cord. I believe Alex had taken advantage, over the last few years of the fact that everyone who worked at Auburn at the time and could refute his claim of involvement are dead.

For instance, one of his favorite stories is that he became Director of the Design Department after I left the company. The truth is that there was no design department at the time I left. Dale Cosper had taken a job in Fort Wayne as a body engineer for International Harvester truck division. Paul Lorenzen had taken a job as an illustrator for a steel company in Pittsburg. Dick Robinson went back to body drafting and Vince went with me to the Budd company in Detroit. . .

. . . Another story often repeated by Alex is that he was responsible for putting the outside exhaust pipes on the super-charged Cord. The truth is all the work on the super-charged model was done by Augie Duesenberg, and the drawings for the parts were made by a draftsman in the chassis engineering department. Even if Alex had been available to make such drawings, he did not possess the training to do such work. Actually Alex came to Auburn [in 1934] with no training in engineering or in art. But he was a nice guy with lots of enthusiasm.

As far as the outside pipes are concerned, their first use in the Cord Corporation was on the model SJ Duesenberg in 1931. A super-charged engine produces more heat than a regular engine and the reason for the external pipes was to help keep the underhood temperature lower.

At Duesenberg, the design of the super-charged engine was done by Fred Duesenberg, and the drawings for the external pipes were made by Walter Troemmel and his chassis draftsman. The idea of the flexible insulating tubing was something that had been in use by Mercedes for some time. In 1934 when we did the 1935 Auburn design, Augie Duesenberg was brought up from Indianapolis to do super-charger work. Again the same design of outside exhaust were used and the drawings for the parts were all done by chassis draftsmen.

So in 1936 when Augie did the work on the 1937 Cord he again used the same design of outside exhaust pipes that had been used since 1931 on the SJ Duesenberg and the 1935 Auburn. Again the drawings for the parts were done by the chassis draftsmen. Not Alex!

So the question is, what did Alex do?"

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