While I do know a lot about the cars of today, my knowledge of pre-WW2 classics is limited at best. This makes it perfectly fine for you to ask me a rather obvious question. How could I, a teenaged Porsche, Bentley, and classic car enthusiast, get his hands on one of the finest American luxury behemoths of the roaring ’20s? Well, sometimes you just see something and it calls your name and this was one of those times. I saw this at a hobby shop and couldn’t pass up the chance to get it. Granted, it’s used, however for $40 it’s 50% off, a steal!
As for the full-size car, it’s the Godfather of pop-up headlights, something we all love, and not to mention the looks. I’m an American but no expert on American cars and even I can see that this thing is a looker. The wide, detached front fenders are beyond stunning. But how does its 1:18 counterpart compare? Let’s find out.
At this price, you can 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. An outline for them is included though. 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 colour. 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 is 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 taillights, 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.
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. 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!
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 nearby 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
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 Maisto to AUTOart 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.
Rearview mirrors: Both the exterior and interior rearview 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 moulded black plastic. Extremely disappointing for literally the first thing you’ll see after popping the hood.
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!
This is the FIRST review of any Ertl product. We don’t know much about them as core members don’t really gravitate to their assortment. Nest car, which we believe falls with the Art-Deco period? Surely we’ll never see works of arts like these on the road again, well, not in mass production.
Your enthusiasm is contagious. If you ever see an Exoto product or CMC in the flesh you may need oxygen to stabilize your vitals, LOL… Keep them coming!
Haha – even if it’s a $30 Bburago I’m still happy to write about it. I got my first Almost Real model yesterday, so you’re right about that last statement 🤣
LOL, it what makes this hobby so addictive.. Striving for the best possible example of your favourite car(s)!
Your critique has to acknowledge that this is a very, very old design – more than 30 years old. It has never been updated, so it lacks many of the details that we take for granite today, e.g., non-labeled gauges, dogleg door hinges, etc. One could get this model, in cream with a red interior, for $10 from Kmart and Target back then. The fact that the body work of this model is so clean – no unnecessary plastic chrome – is a testament to the quality of the Cord’s original design. BTW – it was the Roaring 20’s, not the roaring 30’s. The 30’s is typically identified with the Great Depression, Hoovervilles, soup lines, the New Deal, etc.
That’s what I thought – a lot of older castings that I have include the large hinges and lack certain details that are mandatory by today’s standards. But yes as far as big-picture quality, this impressed me!
A nice review of a Thirties classic. Ertl did a very decent job way back when this was brought to market, particularly considering the retail price. I would love to see a higher quality modern rendition, particularly of the Beverly or Westchester sedan variants. Thank you for the post.
Nice review, thanks for sharing the photos too! The Cord is a stunning car, and so different to everything else that was being built in that era. It’s a shame it’s such a forgotten classic.
There’s a superb museum in Auburn, Indiana, that has several different Cords (along with Auburns and Duesenbergs). I heard about it on a business trip a couple of years ago. My colleague that mentioned the museum only told me it was in a town called Auburn and had some classic cars – he’d never heard of the Auburn brand but I had a Matchbox Boat Tail Speedster as a kid in the 1980s. I went there thinking it would be cool to see one in real life as that’s a beautiful car too, and I was beyond excited when I realised they had Cords there as I also had the Matchbox 812! The museum a gorgeous Art Deco building that served as their offices and showroom in period, and has a huge selection of cars from those brands. It’s well worth a visit if you’re ever in that area, just north of Fort Wayne. Hopefully this link will work: https://automobilemuseum.org/
The link does work, thanks for that! Now that I know about it I’ll be sure to visit some time, if I’m ever in the area!
I’m new to this hobby and also joined Diecast Society recently. I just wanted to say that I am very impressed with the couple of reviews of yours that I have read so far. They are so thorough and well thought out, and I am learning a lot from you. You’re especially helpful to me as a new die cast hobbyist. Thank you, and a great job from you!
Thank you! I’m fairly new to the hobby as well (I’ve been writing these for less than a year) so it’s always nice to see newcomers!
Wonderful review Mason, and maybe as the mid sez not all the core members care for the older Classic vehicles but there are a fair number of collectors like myself who do love the styling and design of these cars and try to collect them. Frankly my latest being a 1959 Mercury Parklane convertible by Sun Star. The majority of my 1/18 collection are 1930s Classic’s though ..my latest which just arrived yesterday is a Ertl P-100 1936 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe.