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Cord Beverly vs. Westchester Sedans?


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Shawn (or anyone else) -

What, in a nutshell, is the difference between the 36-37 Beverly and Westchester sedans? The information I've seen suggests that the Beverly was *slightly* bigger and more expensive, but is it just a trim difference? Also, I know that Shawn recently restored one. What was the experience like? -- time, $, etc.

Thanks in advance,

Cecil Bozarth

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Cecil,

the biggest visible difference is that the beverly has the "bustle trunk" whereas the Westchester is a fastback. I think the trunk thing was added in 37, so in 36 the difference between the 2 models is the type of seats and maybe wheelbase the beverly being longer. I am not an expert, others may have a better explanation of the exact differences.

I got lucky and bought a car that was almost completed, with just about every part needed to finish it. They are expensive to restore. Parts are reproduced but are pricey. a hub cap can end up costing 600 bucks. lots of hand work is required on final assembly.

They are worth it though! I miss mine terribly. I would do it again in a heartbeat! In fact if you know of any needing restored going cheap keep me in mind. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif" alt="" />

Shawn

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If I'm not mistaken, the Beverly had arm rests in the back seat. Some had front arm rests too. The Westchestrer did not. The 1937 "Bussle-Back" trunk lid was only available as an option on the Beverly. It was added because the trunk is otherwise next to useless due to its very small size. I'm told that Gordon Buehrig (the car's designer) hated the "improved" trunk lid.

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Hey Shawn -

The reason I'm asking is that my wife has given me permission to pick up another project, and I'm still debating what it will be -- I have limited space & time, so I better be careful in my selection.

If you are looking for one, I saw a few listed in Hemmings.com. I recall two being sold together in Michigan for 20K, and another nearly complete supercharged version being sold for around that same amount. This seems *awfully* cheap for such distinctive cars. One last thing -- how would you describe the interior space? I've seen a Sportsman up close, and thought it would be very tight for anyone over 6 feet. Thanks.

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Cecil,

Yes I am familiar with all the publically available unrestored Cords out there. None of them are going "cheap" by my definition. I need to restate that restoring a cord is an expensive proposition. If you can find a good cord westchester for 35-40 grand (you should be able to) buy it! You will spend more than this restoring one even if you do most of the work yourself. therefore if someone is asking 20 grand for a car that needs completely or even partially restored, you are letting them off the hook big time if you buy it. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif" alt="" />

Shawn

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That's good advice, Shawn. Anyone who's been around this hobby long enough knows that "95% complete" means missing just a couple things -- like the drivetrain and the interior wink.gif. I have some time before I need to make a decision, which gives me some time to do my homework.

But back to my second question: how tight is the interior? Sorry to bug you on this, but it will be a consideration, unfortunately.

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Oh yeah, I am 6'1" and had no problem with headroom, but the cord was designed from the outside, so the front seat is kinda cozy (narrow). we used this as an excuse to keep the kids in the backseat. HA!

A supercharged car,if originally that way, could be a good deal at 20 depending on where it is in the restoration process. There were only 80 supercharged westchesters made i think. that blower alone is worth some change. thats the biggest problem with these, people always say "Well it is worth more than that in parts" when quoting these high prices, like it is acceptable to part them out or something.

I would take my time, join ACD, go to auburn, talk to others who own them, before just buying one, unless i found a great deal. Even after they are restored things go wrong. they require fortitude and patience. they are the glass slipper of the car world. very beautiful, but very delicate. I had mine 3 years and put 1300 miles on it. you tend to trailer them to events that arent close by unless you are real brave, so add that into your budget/space requirements. there is a major flaw in the stock FWD unit that many people have replaced with the "richardson" system. Opinions varied, but people I trust were not real encouraging about driving long distances with the stock set up. The wheels are prone to cracking and can just come flying off. You need to retighten your lug bolts regularly to guard against this, and getting the hub caps off without tearing them up is not easy. It takes 2 men to remove the "fence" which makes doing most anything under the hood much easier.

As a point of reference, I put 2300 miles on my 41 caddy since june.

Hope i haven't scared you off! If you still want one after reading this you are definately a Cord man <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif" alt="" />

shawn

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My 810 is a reasonably comfortable car to drive or ride in. I?m 5? 10? and find the interior dimensions to be quite amenable for a party of four. A center armrest would be nice, but it would take up some space. The only thing I really don?t like about the car is the limited visibility offered by the odd placement of the windows. The rear window is too small to see what is behind you, and the rear view mirror is a joke. It has big time blind spots on each side of the car. I need to add some outside mirrors just so I can be safe on the highways, but so far I haven?t found any suitable versions. (It can?t be that hard though).

The car is also relatively fast. 70 mph does not seem to be a problem at all, and mine even shifts well. When I purchased the car, it had been restored, including an engine and transmission rebuild. I?m sure that the difference in price between what I paid and buying a $20,000 car that ?needs everything? makes purchasing a restored car quite a bargain. Decent cars go in the price range Shawn mentioned.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't a few Westchesters built with Beverly interiors? To me, that would be the ultimate combination since I prefer the fastback styling of the Westchester.

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I believe Chuck is right on this, that the Cord Beverly is basically an interior upgrade. I have heard some Beverlys refered to as an"Armchair Beverly", leading me to believe that not all had the armrests. Hopefully someone with superior knowledge will enlighten us.

Mike

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I think things varied by year, in 36 the beverly was just an interior change hence the term "armchair beverly", then in 37 they stretched it and added the trunk, due to customer complaints about lack of storage space. I used to think all beverlys had the trunk, then someone pointed this out to me, but I tend to stay up way too late on the town square drinking beer on labor day weekend so am a little fuzzy on this.

Where is Josh Malks when you need him?

Shawn Miller

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I got of my duff and looked, I dont have his books <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif" alt="" /> , but Dan Post's "Classic Cord" book indicated that the longer wheelbase models weren't introduced until 37. Since I think the trunk wasnt introduced until 37, then we have the only difference in 36 being seats and interior trim, but in 37 the differences would be the trunk and interior trim, and in custom models, the longer wheelbase. Supercharging wasnt introduced on any model until 37 as a point of interest.

Keep in mind they were always anxious to sell cars in those days, so they would let people order pretty much whatever they wanted color or trim wise, at least on Auburns, I don't know how much of this was done on Cords, but they were built at the same factory. I would think too that often cars were built using whatever parts were close at hand, so variations in parts inventory could have generated some variations in finished cars.

Shawn

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I believe the comment on 36's being fastbacks and 37's bustlebacks is correct, but there was an aftermarket trunk conversion for 36's to further confuse matters. Interiors exist in multiple variations - a Beverly without center armrest is possible

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's what's known to date about the Cord Westchester/Beverly issue. (That's not to say that new info won't turn up tomorrow. It's amazing how the further we get from an issue the more we learn about it!)

1936 Cords (810) were offered in two sedan styles: Westchester and Beverly. The bodies were identical fastbacks. The Westchester interior used bench seats with a horizontal welt across the center of each cushion. The Beverly had pleated upholstery and a large sculptured fixed armrest front and rear. It was essentially a 4-passenger sedan. These are the so-called "armchair" Beverlys.

There were loud complaints from customers about the lack of trunk space in these fastback sedans. Someone designed a substitute add-on trunk lid that extended the interior space. Alex Tremulis, then Auburn's only designer, reluctantly redesigned the rear end of the sedan to accomodate a faired-in version of this extended trunk lid. This was marketed as the 1937 (812) Beverly. On the interior the 1937 Beverly retained its pleats, but replaced the fixed armrests with fold-down ones. The 1937 Westchesters remained unchanged.

For 1937 Auburn also offered a "Custom" line --- slightly longer, slightly higher. The line included a Custom Beverly and a Berline with divider window for chaffeur driving. (Shawn's car is a Custom Beverly.)

Confusion was caused by some other Auburn machinations:

1. Unsold 1936 Cords were renumbered and sold as 1937s. So, where the unsold car was an "armchair" Beverly, you wound up with a 1937 fastback "armchair" Beverly.

2. Some customizations or mixups were known to have happened on the assembly line: At least one 1937 Beverly came from the factory with a fixed armrest in front and fold-down in the rear, and at least one with fold-down front and fixed rear. At least two 1937 Westchesters had fold-down armrests.

Hope that helps. Thanks for reading.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm interested in the mechanical malodies of the 36 - 37 Cords. Is the engine suitable for SUSTAINED long ditsnce 70 mph Interstate use??? Just exacly what goes wrong with the u-joints and why??? whats the fix??? Anyother malodies???

Does the trans set between axle and engine or in front of the axle??? I never could tell. Nearly impossible to see when the hood is lifted and i have only seen 1 or 2 in my life time.

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Oh yes the motor is quite good in these cars! The heads are kinda thin, but replacements are being made.

The only real problem is the transaxle, which has a flaw in its design, that my friend and Cord mentor Hugh McKnight says would have resulted in a massive recall had the firm not gone out of biz. Other ACD members I know are fearless in driving their cars with stock hubs, it depends on who you talk to. An ACD club member named Richardson, who recently passed away, developed a replacement system that is visually identical but uses modern GM hubs in place of the stock hubs, which solves this.

Of course the most common cause for unscheduled roadside visits is the electronic shifter, which is sort of a rube goldberg set up of switches, relays, and vacuum pistons. Once you get used to it and figure it out (this takes about 2 years) you are good to go. One must be a patient person to drive a Cord.

oh yeah, the engine/tranny is in there backwards so the gear box sticks out the front of the car, slightly ahead of the wheels.

hope this helps.

shawn

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Shawn -

You're slowly talking me into it (I'll still have to see if I can actually fit in one, but that's a different story). Now, about background reading -- I know Josh Malks has a book on Cords. Does this book also cover mechanical details? If not, what might you suggest? Where would I get details on the hubs changeover?

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Cecil,

I would join ACD or just go to CCCA events and seek out cord owners there. As with anything, reading books and "doing it" are 2 different things. The Richardson conversion should still be available since his son is continuing to make these i beleive. If you get lucky, you could end up getting a car that has already had this conversion done! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif" alt="" />

Have a merry christmas!

Shawn

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