Amelia Earhart, an aviator who established numerous records during her career, posed for a photograph on September 20, 1936, in front of her Lockheed Electra aeroplane and her Cord convertible. In the end, none of the three were left. Her Cord has been found, despite the fact that Earhart and her Lockheed are still presumed to be missing.

Late in 1935 marked the introduction of the Cord 810, which would subsequently be renamed the 812. The majority of automobiles produced during this time period were of the body-on-frame variety and depended on an engine located at the front of the vehicle to power the rear wheels. However, the front-engine Cord broke the mould by adopting a unibody structure and a front-wheel-drive configuration. This combination gave the 810 an impressively low-slung appearance, which turned heads.


In addition to this, Cord included other cutting-edge characteristics, such as doors that opened inward and had concealed hinges (at the time, exposed hinges were the industry standard). A grille covered in chrome was absent from the 810, and in its place were discrete horizontal louvres.

Additionally, it was the first vehicle in the automotive industry to have headlamps that were concealed. The retractable landing lights used on Stinson aeroplanes served as inspiration for the design of the headlamps that folded up into the front fenders of the Cord when they were not in use.

Gordon Buehrig, a well-known automotive stylist, had previously designed Stutz cars that competed at Le Mans and the Duesenberg Model J, but his work on the Cord was his most ambitious.

“Even beyond the styling, a well-restored Cord is just a really fun car to drive,” said Travis LaVine of LaVine Restorations, the firm that repaired Earhart’s Cord. LaVine Restorations was the company that worked on Earhart’s automobile. “Many people consider these vehicles to be works of art; however, they are not only practical but also very stable for long distance driving and packed with V-8 power.”

Because both of LaVine’s parents were active members of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club (ACD), he spent his childhood around Cord automobiles. Consider the fact that the automobile was awarded a score at the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg Festival that seemed statistically impossible: 1002 out of a possible 1000 points. This can help put into perspective how fully LaVine Restorations restored Amelia Earhart’s Cord. The knowledgeable ACD judges scrutinised the vehicle’s each and every minute feature. You can thank a small number of extremely rare accessories for the points you gained.

Both Have Been Found

After becoming the first person, male or female, to fly over the Atlantic Ocean (she was also the only person to do it and the first person to do so more than once), Amelia Earhart set her eyes on becoming the first person to fly around the entire world. She and her navigator, Fred Noonan, set out from Oakland, California, on May 21, 1937, with the intention of travelling east.

They had travelled almost 22,000 miles and taken many weeks to reach New Guinea, where they stopped for fuel before continuing their journey on July 2, 1937. Nobody ever saw them or heard from them again.

George Putnam, who was married to Amelia Earhart, arranged for a number of costly searches to be conducted, but to no avail. In 1939, he took steps to have it recorded that she had passed away and sold off portions of her assets, including the Cord.

Due to the fact that it was one of the last 200 automobiles produced in 1936, the Earhart Cord was an extremely uncommon automobile. Consequently, it was a combination of Cord 810 and Cord 812 components, despite the fact that it was officially labelled as a 1937 Cord 812.

This item’s uniqueness did not convert into its preservation, however, as the 812 that was originally held by Earhart, much like many other Cords in the postwar period, was ignored. The fact that there were very few mechanics who knew how to work on these front-drive American motorcycles did not make up for the fact that they were difficult to maintain.

A collector who obtained the Earhart Cord in the 1950s added further confusion to the situation by exchanging parts between the Earhart Cord and another Cord that he had at the time. Members of the ACD and other Cord fans were aware that Amelia Earhart had previously had a Cord 812; the photograph of the automobile alongside the Lockheed was well known. However, the whereabouts of the Cord and the various sections of it remained a mystery on par with Amelia Earhart’s own disappearance.

In steps Roy Foster, a Texan who had known the LaVine family since the 1980s through their involvement in the ACD Club. Foster had been looking for the Earhart Cord for a number of years prior to his purchase of a Cord in 1992 that had been retrofitted with the V-8 engine that was originally in Earhart’s vehicle. In 2004, Foster was able to locate and purchase the chassis of the Earhart Cord. Foster has spent countless hours poring over records in order to get this far. This accomplishment was made significantly more challenging by the fact that the identification tags on the car were jumbled up during the middle of the 20th century when it was disassembled.

After putting the engine and the chassis back together, Foster shifted his focus to finding a steward who would be dedicated to restoring the Earhart Cord to its former grandeur. After that, LaVine made the introduction between Foster and Jack Boyd Smith Jr. LaVine was tasked with the responsibility of rebuilding the Earhart Cord shortly after Foster transferred possession of the vehicle to Smith.

Information Regarding the Past

“In that photo [with Earhart], there’s a scuff on one of the fenders,” said Jason Stoller, who was the manager of the restoration of the Earhart Cord. “When we finally got it down to the bare metal, you could see the crease in the fender.”

LaVine pointed out that he and Stoller are both former solicitors, and that one of the enjoyable aspects of restoring antique automobiles is doing research. It’s a good thing, too, because archaeology plays just as important a role as technical competence in the accurate restoration of a vintage vehicle.

To ensure that every information regarding the Earhart Cord was correctly documented and accurate for its time period, approximately 10,000 hours of study were put in. The contacts that LaVine Restorations has with the ACD Club and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum were quite helpful in this situation.

Because of these contacts, LaVine was able to acquire those uncommon accessories, which were previously described, that contributed to the Earhart Cord’s score of 1002 points at the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg Festival.

For example, the steering-assist knob for the automobile (also known as a suicide knob, Brodie knob, or necker’s knob), which was an item that Earhart’s Cord carried when she had it, was a nearly tough piece to locate. The compass for the automobile was another one of those uncommon add-ons that took some effort to locate. It took a total of 18 months to get the Earhart Cord back to its original condition.


Following the completion of its repair, Earhart’s Cord made its first public appearance at the 2021 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The automobile was awarded second place in the Class C, American Classic category by the Concours judges. The exceptional history of the Cord automobile enabled it to be included in the National Historic Vehicle Register.

Since its rediscovery, Amelia Earhart’s vintage Cord has been displayed not only in the United States but also in other countries; it was even displayed at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy. It is anticipated that the vehicle will be displayed on the National Mall in Washington, District of Columbia, in the month of September, as well as in London at some point in the year 2019. The fact that one of the final remnants of a pioneering aviator who perished in a plane crash is still being used to carry on the pioneering spirit of its original owner feels somehow appropriate.