Exterior Color: Black and White
Feature: Wheels roll. No engine detail.
Diecasm Payment Plan: Eligible
According to Ed Schoenthaler, the current owner, Brooks Stevens became enthralled with E. L. Cord's new front-wheel-drive automobile when, as a teenager, he attended a wedding at which the newlyweds were given an L-29 as a present. Stevens's father, a successful engineer, helped him buy a two-year-old cabriolet as a reward for hard work. In the mid-Thirties, about the time his studies at Cornell University in New York were completed, Brooks Stevens got the urge to customize his Cord convertible. The goal was to turn it into a speedster along the lines of those being built on Auburn, Duesenberg, and other prestige-car chassis of the era.
The cowl was lowered slightly and the body narrowed. The overall shape of the cabriolet deck was retained, but the rumble seat was removed and the deck smoothed over, then capped with a trailing fin. A raked, vee'd windshield replaced the upright one-piece unit used on standard L-29s. The front fenders were skirted and the usual sidemount spares discarded, their fender wells filled in. Standard hood louvers were replaced by Dusenberg-like mesh screens that aided engine cooling when Stevens entered the car in hill-climbs. The exterior was capped by a Stevens-designed radiator cap, narrow Woodlite headlights, a rear bumper designed to protect the fin, and a sweeping two-tone paint scheme.
Inside, the engine-turned dash was copied from the much-admired "Duesey." The seatback was hinged so that when folded, there was access to the luggage compartment under the enclosed deck. Limousine Body, the Cord-owned coachbuilding shop, performed the modifications. Stevens retained the stock 299-cubic-inch Lycoming straight-eight engine and three-speed transmission, the latter with its dash-mounted shift lever and distinctive "backward" shift pattern. However, he had a twin-carburetor intake manifold and a special exhaust manifold made, and racier final-drive gearing was installed. In later years, Stevens took his cherished Cord to shows and vintage-car touring events.
The name Brooks Stevens might not have quite the recognition among casual enthusiasts of automotive design superstars like Harley Earl or Bill Mitchell, but among industry insiders Stevens influence is difficult to overstate. Stevens helped define the style of classic brands like Kaiser and later Studebaker, and in the process influenced generations of designers to follow. His designs graced products as diverse as the original Jeep Wagoneer and the iconic post-war Harley-Davidson motorcycle, proving him as versatile as he was talented.
Its fitting that Brooks Stevens career was taking off during a time when he could apply his talents to a custom vehicle design for his own personal enjoyment, and the machine you hold in your hands now is the fruit of that effort. The Brooks Stevens Speedster is based on the innovative Cord L-29, which when it debuted in 1929 had the distinction of being the first American production car to employ front-wheel-drive. Stevens obtained a used L-29 in the early 1930s and immediately set about reshaping it according to his own personal vision of what a luxury sport tourer should be, borrowing cues from such premium marques as Deusenberg and Auburn. The L-29s Lycoming Inline-8 engine and de Dion front-drive axle were unique, allowing Stevens to lower and streamline the cowl, which along with a narrowed body gave the Speedster a decidedly sportier look. He completely re-sculpted the rear deck as well, giving it a tidier profile and integrating a vertical fin.
Stevens also wanted to capture the elegance of the top-shelf luxury cars, so he offset the low-slung sporty body with chromed wire wheels and wide whitewall tires. He filled in the front fender arches around those tires, along with the wells that formerly housed the side-mounted spare tires. The cowl louvers were replaced with Deusenberg style vents. A truly unique addition was the incorporation of narrow profile "Woodlite" headlights to bracket the grille. Then the whole exterior was bathed in a striking two-tone paint schemea departure from his usual habit of painting his personal vehicles metallic blue.
The custom touches continued into the passenger cabin which was personalized with shaved down split-vee windshield, a new custom dashboard and folding seatbacks that gave access to the cargo area created by the elimination of the rumble-seat. Stevens bolstered performance with the addition of a custom twin-carb intake and exhaust system, and a sportier axle ratio to give it more grunt when he entered it in hill climb events. The finished product is a car that far surpasses the comparatively conservative styling of the stock Cord, transforming it into a machine to rival the luxury luminaries of the period. Stevens was so proud of how the Speedster turned out that he owned it from its completion until his passing in 1995.
Automodello pays tribute to Stevens aesthetic mastery with this precision 1:24 replica of the Brooks Stevens Cord Speedster. This exquisite collectible is one of just 499 in a hand-numbered limited edition, ensuring that it retains its collectability and exclusivity to match its beauty.
Diecasm Payment Plan: This model is eligible for Diecasm's exclusive Automodello 3 payment plan. Please see details here.