HomeCar CultureCommentaryWant your own car company? Cord trademarks for sale

Want your own car company? Cord trademarks for sale


Historic Cord logo goes to buyer of the car company's trademark | Larry Edsall photos
Historic Cord logo goes to buyer of the car company’s trademark | Larry Edsall photos

What’s more rare than owning a classic car? How about owning the rights to a classic car company’s name, indeed, to its very trademark?

The rights to the trademarks for Cord Automobile, the keystone in Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg, are being offered for sale until October 22, at which point, if they have not been purchased, they will be put on hold and be offered at the Leake Auction Company’s Collector Car Show & Auction a month later, November 22, in Dallas.

“We thought there is a possibility that someone might jump up immediately and say, ‘I want this’,” said Richard Sevenoaks, president of Leake. “We didn’t want to preclude a quick sale.”

In this case, “we” is Leake and consignor Doug Pray, whose late father, Glenn Pray, owned the rights to the Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg companies.

Glenn Pray died in March, 2011, at the age of 85.

“They sold the Auburn trademark to a company in California that was going to produce Auburns,” Sevenoaks said in an interview with ClassicCars.com. “The Duesenberg one, a Chinese company bought and no one’s heard of them since.”

Sevenoaks, whose company was not involved in either of those transactions, said the Duesenberg rights sold for $1 million and the Auburn name for $500,000.

Cord hood ornament
Cord hood ornament

“We’re assuming the price (for Cord) will be somewhere between those two.”

Actually, there are two Cord patents involved. One covers the car, the parts and miscellaneous automotive-related aspects of the brand, Sevenoaks said. The other is for the rights to produce scale-model or toy Cords.

“Think of the automotive history,” Sevenoaks said of the Cord name and heritage. “In my mind, I thought one of the car companies — be it overseas or domestic — would jump up and say here is an iconic brand and we can put it in our product line and produce a brand new Cord.”

Sevenoaks said the Leake staff is contacting all original-equipment automakers to see if any have such interest.

If no individual or company steps up quickly, the Cord trademarks will go to auction.

Whether or not it includes the bidding rights to the Cord trademark, that Dallas auction will be an important one in the 42-year history of the Leake Auction Company.

Leake is known for serving the entry- and middle-level heart of the classic car market. But Sevenoaks said he saw how Craig Jackson and Barrett-Jackson recently got back into the high end of that marketplace with the introduction of Salon Series cars.

Now, he said, the Leake consignment team has assembled a small but impressive group of very high-end classic cars for their Dallas auction.

The last Duesenberg | Leake Auction photo
The last Duesenberg | Leake Auction photo

Those cars include the Pray Duesenberg, the last of some 350 cars built by ACD after its acquisition by Pray. The remarkable subject of both a biography and an autobiography, Pray was a 36-year-old high school teacher when he acquired what remained of Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg and moved tons of cars, leftover parts and assorted equipment from northern Indiana to a former pickle factory in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

In addition to providing restoration parts, Pray produced Cord 8/10s and Auburn 866 Speedsters and, in 1978, one Model J Duesenberg, complete with V12 engine and the next consecutive serial number following those previously built in Indianapolis. The car has been featured in a variety of events, including the annual A-C-D Festival in Auburn, Indiana.

Also part of the Leake Platinum series will be a 1937 Cord 812 “and a couple of other cars,” Sevenoaks said.

“We’ll sell them back-to-back on Saturday at Dallas.”

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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