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George Gershwin's 1936 Cord 810

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Does anyone know what became of George Gershwin's 1936 Cord 810 convertible? Did it survive? 


From the photos, it appears that it was a deep maroon; and the license plate reads 4W 131 (California plate). 


Gershwin died unexpectedly of a brain tumor in '37....

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  • 2 months later...

I haven't found any additional info on George Gershwin's Cord.....any sleuths work for the California DMV? .....maybe there's a paper trail connected to the license plate 4W 131.


The last major project that Gershwin worked on was  "A Damsel in Distress" in '36 and released in '37. One of the scenes briefly contained a Cord convertible being driven by George Burns as seen in the link below.




It didn't have the cowl mounted spotlight or the same plate as Gershwin's, and it's hard to see if it had the rare luggage rack, although these could have been removed for filming.  It's also possible that Gershwin may not have actually owned the Cord, it may have been provided by the studio for the duration of his RKO project, and could explain why it was used in the scene.  He had planned to return to New York City after the movie had been completed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Roadmaster_56 take a look at this conversation with Dorothy Fields discussing Jerome Kern and George Gershwin captured in They're Playing Our Song; Conversations with America's Classic Songwriters by Max Wilk:  


"And 'The Way You Look Tonight,' which won the Academy Award in 1936 for best film song.  'The first time Jerry played that melody fo rme, I went out and started to cry,' she says.  'The release absolutely killed me.  I couldn't stop, it was so beautiful.


'Oh, it was a lovely collaboration.  Don't let anybody tell you Jerry was unhappy in Hollywood; he loved it out there.  He made an excellent living and he did a lot of good work.  And he was never difficult... except perhaps once,' she muses.  'This is the only time he ever let me have it.  When George Gershwin bought a Cord.  Remember the Cord car?  It was beautiful.


'We went down to Palm Springs.  George started to teach me how to play golf down there.  I fell in love with his car, and he said, 'Well, why don't you get one too?' So I went out and bought a Cord.  I always used very blue pencils to write with, and I had the car painted that bright blue color.  I used to drive Jerry to the studio every day, because he didn't drive.  And I drove up in my brand-new bright blue Cord, very proud, to pick Jerry up.  There he was, waiting for me.  But he became very incensed, the only time he ever lit into me.  He said, 'I won't drive you in that vulgar, repulsive car!' Do you believe I had to take it back and have it painted black?' "


Pages 37-41


https://books.google.com/books?id=fEGEed4cCSMC&pg=PA40&lpg=PA40&dq=george+gershwin+1936+cord&source=bl&ots=aqS9PNsH-O&sig=ACfU3U0y7DDRLK1-gICoWy9o1m9Um6oI4w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjzqfTMlI70AhWThXIEHYXgBZMQ6AF6BAglEAM#v=onepage&q=george gershwin 1936 cord&f=false






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Well, I guess that proves Gershwin did buy a Cord.... I bet the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum might have ownership and VIN records that could help trace it. 


Dorothy Field's Cord was "bright blue"....below are the only blues listed for '36 and '37....hard to know if she used a light or dark blue pencil for writing...and which color was so offensive to Kern.

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Screen Shot 2021-11-10 at 9.43.02 AM.jpg

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  • 11 months later...

No new info to date.  Interesting to note that  Gershwin arrived in Hollywood in Aug of '37 and died only 11 months later.....probably did not put a lot of mileage on the Cord.  He left no will and his estate went to his mother....car was virtually new at his death.

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I did a brief google search for "Cord Automobile Registry", but nothing remotely close turned up.   I also visited the ACD (Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club) website, but could not find a registry listing.  I would think one exists somewhere....

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  • 1 month later...
On 11/4/2022 at 12:03 PM, TTR said:

Does anyone know the VIN of Gershwin’s Cord ?



Thanks @roadmaster_56 & @Curti for your suggestions.

I was merely interested to see if the car I was slated to receive and do work on would've by chance been Gershwin's, but as it turned out, it isn't.

The car, which was delivered couple of weeks ago, turned out to be a '37 812SC Cabriolet or Convertible Coupe, depending on how one wishes to designate its body style. 

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