Old is Gold: 1:18 Cord 812 SC Sportsman Convertible Coupe by Ertl
A big name for a big car, that's about as American as it gets
The 1930's were an interesting time in the automotive industry. Cars were just massive. Back in the day, the average two-door was as large as today’s average two-row SUV. The cars were big and so was the audience they had to appeal to. Inspiration came from a wide variety of places including boats, which led to some pretty iconic cars. Auburn made the "Boattail" Speedster, and Cadillac the Series 75 Convertible Coupe. Those cars, alongside many others, are beautiful in their own way. But in my mind, there is only one car from this area that is the gold standard of ‘30’s cool.
It is the godfather of pop-up headlights. It has a name almost as big as itself. It is the one and only (brace yourself) 1937 Cord 812 Supercharged Sportsman Convertible Coupe, in 1:18 scale by Ertl. While I don't usually prefer cars from the thirties, it's hard to pass up a car as beautiful as this Cord. I had seen the scale model Cord online and thought about adding it to my collection. Lucky for me, my parents went to Paso Robles for wine tasting and to celebrate their anniversary last year. Yes Paso Robles strikes back! The return of the Paso! Don't worry, I won't tell the tale of Paso Robles, you can read more about it here (third paragraph). Long story short: My parents went to an antiques/collectables shop while on an anniversary trip and found this beautiful thing in near-mint condition for $40. Just feast your eyes on this thing, it's just gorgeous.
At this price you can't not love this car. Straight out of the box, I was very impressed. There is no unnecessary chrome, plastic, or anything else that I despise on the car itself. But the packaging is a bit on the cheap side with overgone logo graphics. As someone who prefers a more subtle packaging design this disappoints me.
Regarding the model itself though, I love it. The paint is high quality, a bit too metallic for some, but overall very nice with very little orange peel. The white-wall tires are especially cool - they add some contrast to the black paint and tires, as well as continuing the "of its era" design theme. I also found an almost hidden feature while inspecting the model - adjustable seats. They can go forward or backward as you please, a distinct feature compared to my other 1:18s. Finally, I find it ironic that I mainly love this car because it started the pop-up headlight trend, but on my model the headlights are fixed. Though, an outline for them is included. Off to a good start, Ertl.
This 812 doesn't lack quality, despite what its $40 price tag may suggest. Starting at the front bumper, it's chromed over just like the full size car, with the back in body color. While that may look like a cost cutting measure, it is what you'd see on its full-size counterpart. The Cord logo is placed front and center and, while a bit small, it’s legible. The prominent license plate isn’t something I'd want if I owned the real car.
This Cord’s wide fenders, a styling cue found on most cars from this era, really stand out. The manifolds that stretch from them to the engine are also chrome and look fabulous. Another detail I appreciate are the realistic door handles. Unlike Welly or higher end Bburago models at this price range, the Cord’s door handles are actually usable, and attached sturdily.
The rear end is just as well-made. The trunk shut line is perfect as are the beautiful rear fenders. The tail lights, too, are very high quality and nicely sized. Other detail-oriented items such as the gas cap and rear bumper have a nice level of intricacy. Very nicely done, Ertl.
Inside the cabin
Open the Cord’s menacing suicide doors, and feast your eyes on the absolutely beautiful brown “leather” interior. While there are some missing details (I’ll elaborate on them in the section after the next), the adjustable seats make up for that. The gauge cluster, all chrome as you'd see on the real car, is fully detailed. Ertl even included the oddly placed gear shifter, although it is not labelled.
A few other minor features that my OCD-self adores are the well-made door sills. The perfectly painted window crank, door handles and texturing on the door’s “leather” all look terrific!
Under the hood
The engine really shines when compared to the other sections, even though it's the only place without any chrome. The hood latch is visible, as is a near-by plaque reading "Cord Front Wheel Drive.” Fun fact: the Cord 812 was one of the first American FWD cars. Back to the engine: It also features excellent detail on numerous wires/hoses, the air filter, and the engine block. I'll let the under-hood pictures do the rest of the talking.
Devil's in the details
I love the Cord but there are a variety of small details that Ertl could have focused on to make this 812 perfect.
Camber: While nearly perfect in condition, this model was bought lightly used so there is mild shelf wear and a load negative camber on the front wheels. That means the car has been sitting under its own weight long enough for the wheels to bend inwards. While just about any scale model from Maistos to AUTOarts get camber at one point or another if you take them off of the baseplate, this model was clearly on display in the first owner’s home and the camber proves it.
License plate: Cars of today look cleaner without a front license plate as well as back in the ‘30s. This Cord, unfortunately, not only sports one, it sports two poorly made, plastic-y, chrome plates in both the front and rear. If I had any say in the making of this model, I’d pass on having a front license plate, or at least make the plates to a higher quality.
Rear view mirrors: Both the exterior and interior rear view mirrors lack the reflective piece of the mirror. On this model there is merely a piece of chrome plastic with no reflective surface on the face of the mirror, defeating the purpose of what a mirror is. Minor, I know, to everybody but me!
Exhaust: Unfortunately, the exhaust pipe is a piece of loosely mounted grey plastic with little depth in the pipe itself. From a distance it looks acceptable, but up close quite the opposite. Its lack of depth kills me.
Door hinges: Immediately after opening the suicide doors you’ll see the large hinges. It pains me to say this about such a gorgeous car, but hinges of this size at this price aren't acceptable. They are arguably worse than those found on entry-level Maisto Lamborghinis.
Floor mats: Because of the missing floor mats, the ground is hard black plastic. That’s something you would find on a cheaper model.
Gauges: Yes, the gauges themselves are included, but not labelled at all. Not the speedometer, tachometer, nothing. One of the worst corners to cut, in my opinion.
Radiator: The radiator is also simply molded black plastic. Extremely disappointing for literally the first thing you’ll see after popping the hood.
In the big picture
Despite the fact Cord is an automaker I barely know, the car is a car from an era I don't collect and made by a manufacturer I’ve never purchased, I'm very partial to this car. It's beyond good looking, is recreated nearly perfectly and came at a price point that makes it one of the least expensive in my collection. Great quality-price-ratio! If you enjoyed this car just as much as I did, there are plenty of listings on eBay for a similar price. I highly recommend it!
1:18 Cord 812 Supercharged Sportsman Convertible Coupe by Ertl