For a while now Andrew Minney has been researching Cord 810 and 812 cars in France. A long trail led him to Citroën powered Cords in the 1950s. Following this up he discovered that a Frenchman called Charles Dechaux set up a small business in Paris converting these Cords to Citroën power.

Only 50 Cords were ever imported into France and Dechaux converted 20 of them to Citroën power. Nineteen had 11CV Traction engines (due to that engines popularity, economy and reliability). Remember this was in the 50s and France’s car industry had been decimated by the Pons Plan!

The other Cord had a 15/6 (6 cylinder) engine. This car Andrew traced to an owner in Holland who still has the car today.

Andrew has managed to trace two of the 11CV engine Cords. During his searches, stories of two Cords being sent to Citroën in Paris for experimental purposes kept cropping up. He now knows, through a letter from 1956, that two Cords were sent to Paris in 1936 (both 810s, a convertible and a sedan) for evaluation purposes.

Citroën’s engineers were developing a straight-six cylinder powered Traction in 1936 and wanted the Cords for general evaluation. (Citroën launched the six-cylinder Traction Avant in June 1938 so it stands to reason that they had interest in the Cords).

Andrew has documentation to prove the convertible survived the war but the sedan “disappeared” in 1940, probably “liberated” by the Germans! Andrew also has documentation as to the mods the Citroën engineers did to the convertible:

They replaced the 810 engine with an 812 supercharged unit. The Citroën engineers did not like the supercharger and replaced it with two Zenith carbs. They sorted the gearbox, fixed the gear shifting to manual using parts from a Peugeot 203 housing and “tidied” the steering column switchgear to a more acceptable European likeness. They fitted Houdaille thermostatic shock absorbers all round and used large Citroën brake drums, Michelin wheels and Michelin 185×400 tires. When sorted it was quite a good car, in fact, better than original. It was as fast as the supercharged car, more economic and started without use of a choke.

The Cord project at Citroën project terminated in 1938 and the convertible, along with “other projects” were stored in a warehouse until 1950 when a French motoring journalist by the name of Claude Maurell bought the car. That was unusual as experimental cars are not usually sold to the public (unless you are Jay Leno!). When Maurell bought it, the convertible had done about 10,000 miles.

In 1956 Maurell sold it (now with about 30,000 miles on the clock) to an American gentleman in Ohio.  He continued to drive the car as a daily driver with no problems. Andrew does not know where the car is today, but he does have a Canadian Cord enthusiast looking through his files for any more recent mention and pictures of the car.

Andrew has requested if any of our readers know anything about these two Cords that were in Citroën’s hands. He is looking for pictures of the 810 Sportsman convertible now and then.

The 4-door sedan is proving to be even more of a challenge. He would like to find info and photos of it then, and any proof that it still exist!

If anyone can shed more light on these mysterious Cords that were modified by Citroën please get in touch with Andrew at pontlarge@gmail.com.