A Timeless Classic Still Running After 80 Years

Joel Little’s life-long love of cars has led him to collect rare cars such as the 1937 Cord Custom Beverly.

Oxford’s Joel Little talks about the history of his 1937 Cord, and winning the Best in Show at the Destination Oxford Car Show

It has a shiny silver shell with head lights built like a hammerhead shark. A coffin shaped hood hides a 125 horsepower flathead engine that purses like an old grumpy cat on Monday. Its smooth front wheel drive glides over the road like a summer stone skipping across Sardis Lake.

No, I am not talking about a UFO; I’m talking about Joel Little’s 1937 Cord that won Best in Show at the Destination Oxford Car Show on May 27. It may be hard to believe, but Little’s car is actually an 80-year-old left-over from the Great Depression. Its unique personality is a combination of “Back to the Future” and “the Godfather.” Like all old cars, there is a long and winding past behind it.

The Cord, named after the Auburn Automobile Companies former president E. L. Cord, is said the be the most influential cars of the 1930’s. Built in the then-popular Art Deco style, the car also featured new technology such as the hidden head lights, four doors, front wheel drive and an uno-body base.

The Cord, however, was short-lived due to plummeting sales, a nationwide depression, and faulty engineering. Auburn closed its gates the same year the 1937 Cord hit the streets with about 2,000 models ever built.

Little’s car, however, is an exception. His car was one of the last Cords to be built before the company closed and many of the builder’s problems had been fixed.

“I was pretty lucky to find it in such good condition,” Little said. “Most of the ones you could find are in horrible condition.” The car was also bought and later restored by former Tennessee senator, Howard Baker, who added it into his personal collection. It was then sold during an auction in 2015 and eventually found its way into Little’s garage.

“This is a bucket list thing for me,” Little, co-owner of Little and Wilkinson’s Construction, said. “It checked all of the boxes and was everything and more. I bought it to enjoy it.”

The Cord, a custom Beverly, has a wheelbase of 132 inches width and a bumper to fender length of 208 inches. While Little is rather careful about over exerting his car, he mentioned that the Cord can go 0-60 mph in 30 seconds and reach a top speed of around 75 mph.

This past car show, Little and his Cord won their first contest together. While the car has won many prizes in times past, this was Little’s first time entering this car into a show.

“Little’s Cord is the type car most of us only see on TV or in pictures,” Jason Taylor, host of the Destination Oxford Cruise and Car Show, said. “To see such a rare automobile, in such a preserved state, was a treat. His Best of Show trophy was well deserved.”

A lifetime lover of cars, Littles hopes to enter his Cord into more car shows this coming fall. While it might not have that new car smell, the Cord will always be a timeless classic.

“I think it is a piece of art,” Little said. “I put it in my shop so I can look at it every day when I go to work.”

Little keeps his car in his company, Little Wilkinson’s Construction, shop to look at every day during work.

Allen Brewer is an intern for HottyToddy.com. 

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