Auto Review News: February 2016

By Rod Ward

Auto Review is a series of compact, concise, affordable monographs on subjects related to transport, collecting and popular culture.

Auto Review Update

Our printers, Duffields, were wiped out by the floods in Yorkshire over Christmas. They were in Kirkstall Road, Leeds, next to the River Aire, which flooded the entire printing works, destroying all the machinery and paper stock. it was insured, but there was no chance of getting insurance in future. Martyn Duffield, who got us started with MAR back in 1981, is now in his sixties and didn’t fancy starting again from scratch in new premises elsewhere, so he sold up to a printing company in South Yorkshire, too far away for us. We therefore had to go through the process of finding other printers, getting quotes, assessing their abilities, and finally we chose a York company called Wood Richardson. They have just delivered the first two new Auto Review titles for 2016 (see below), and we look forward to a good relationship with them in future.

The latest two Auto Review titles, now available, are 117 Cord Corporation and 118 Borgward Album. You can read more about these new publications below. You can order any Auto Review book direct from us by email telephone or snail mail (payments by Paypal to – add £1.00 p&p per title in UK, £2.00 EU, £3.00 elsewhere. Or you can order online via Oxford Diecast online at our new link: From April 2016 we hope to have a new and updated presence at:

Auto Review 2016 titles

117 Cord Corporation:

AR 117 cord cover

Obviously Cord-Auburn-Duesenberg, but also Checker cab, Stinson aircraft, Vultee, American Airlines and much more, all owned by E L Cord at one time or another..

Available now

118 Borgward Album

AR 118 borgward cover

Including Pionier, Borgward, Hansa, Lloyd, Goliath, etc

Available now

119 Seddon and Atkinson: lorries and buses, including Seddon-Atkinson etc.

for publication in April 2016

120 A car less ordinary: Retro, repro & pastiche cars, plus novelty vehicles

for publication in April 2016

121 Spanish cars: Hispano-Suiza, Pegaso, Seat, Voisin, David and others

for publication in June 2016

122 Dennis Album: including cars, buses, trucks, fire appliances etc

for publication in June 2016

123 Tiny Wheels: micro cars, city cars, bubble cars, Aixam, Ligier, Keicars, Smart etc

for publication in August 2016

124 Volvo Album : All cars, trucks, buses etc

for publication in August 2016

125 Gloster Aircraft: Including Nieuport etc, and Gloster-Saro

for publication in October 2016

126 Optare, plus Charles Roe, East Lancs, etc

for publication in October 2016

Latest Releases

Auto Review 117 Cord Corporation

by Rod Ward

Errett Lobban Cord, born in 1894 in Missouri, was a super-salesman brought in to rescue the ailing Auburn car company. He soon took control of the firm, then he acquired Duesenberg, the top US luxury car maker of the period. He also took over Lycoming, who made the engines, plus coachbuilders and makers of other car components from axles to springs. EL Cord seems to have been very personable; not only did potential buyers find his approach irresistible, his employees were loyal, though he paid poor wages. He recognised his own lack of specialist expertise, always choosing to employ the best person for the job: managers, designers or engineers.

This publication moves from one personality to another, among the many gifted people to whom Cord chose to give his support. He launched a car marque under his own Cord name, took over the firm which made and operated Checker cabs, and diversified into aircraft manufacture with Stinson, Vultee and Avco, then into airlines when he created American Airlines. Not satisfied with cars and aviation, EL Cord also acquired a major shipbuilding firm and became a principal shareholder in a railway company. At one time or another, Cord was said to have controlled over 150 companies, but we don’t go into detail about them all here, only those of most interest to Auto Review readers. When his original empire collapsed in the late 1930s, EL Cord went on to own radio and television stations, and to invest in property, coal mines and even livestock.

Opinion was divided as to Cord’s character; a visionary, a charlatan, a financial genius, a stock manipulator? During the Great Depression Cord lost interest in his transport-related empire, which was subject to restrictions by the US authorities, so it was dismantled in 1937.

He never believed in looking back, always forward, and he went on to build another fortune and to become a respected legislator as a State Senator in Nevada. EL’s principal legacies in the 21st century are the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Automobile Museum, located in his old art deco headquarters in Auburn, Michigan, and the hundreds of Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg cars lovingly preserved around the world.

ISBN 978-1-85482-116-7 £5.95

Auto Review 118 Borgward Album

by Rod Ward

Carl Borgward is one of those characters who fascinate automotive historians. He was, like so many entrepreneurs, single-minded, autocratic and often disagreeable. His only interest was in his cars, not in the details of running a business, especially where money was concerned, and that blind-spot would ultimately spell his downfall. Carl Borgward’s achievements, and his lost opportunities, are described in this publication.

Borgward owners attested to the high standard of design, construction and materials used in their cars; much higher than one could expect for the price, especially in the case of the Isabella.

In fact the standard was too high for the prices charged, so it would always be hard for Borgward to make a profit. Owners were very loyal to the Borgward brand, keeping their cars much longer than those made by competitors. Little things like fully-adjustable seats, counterweighted bonnet and boot lids, reversing lights and selectable parking lights may be standard issue in the 21st century, but in the 1950s they were exceptionally rare in a middle-priced car.

My strongest personal memory of a Borgward was when I was a student of architecture. One of my tutors owned a white Isabella, which seemed to be an impossibly exotic car to own in early 1960s Yorkshire. I think that Trevor, who was a talented musician as well as an architect, must have developed his taste for Borgwards while playing with bands in Germany.

I have never owned a Borgward, but I now own a Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate car, which was built at the Sebaldsbrück plant in Bremen, the factory originally erected by Carl Borgward in 1938. I don’t think of the Mercedes-Benz as a Borgward, but I am aware that in a minor way it continues Carl Borgward’s legacy.

ISBN 978-1-85482-117-4 £5.99

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