Amelia Earhart's Elusive Convertible Makes Its Way to the National Mall

Sep 1, 2023 2 min read
Amelia Earhart's Elusive Convertible Makes Its Way to the National Mall

Go see it now!

This week, a marvel of 1930s engineering will find itself parked between two iconic landmarks in Washington, D.C.: the National Museum of American History and the USDA building. No, it's not a time traveler from a bygone era, but rather Amelia Earhart’s long-lost 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton convertible. Once elusive like Earhart herself, the convertible will be on public display as part of the Hagerty Drivers Foundation's annual "Cars at the Capital" exhibition until September 5th. After that, it will make room for another automotive unicorn: a 1952 Porsche America Roadster, one of just 16 ever produced.

Automotive Royalty Joins National Register

Both the Cord and the Porsche have recently been inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Register, a prestigious list administered by the Hagerty Drivers Foundation in collaboration with the Department of the Interior.

A Convertible with Star Power

The Cord 812 Phaeton is not your run-of-the-mill classic car. An avant-garde marvel of its time, the vehicle featured a slew of ahead-of-its-time innovations, such as front-wheel drive, retractable headlights, and those ominous doors that open in the opposite direction of travel, earning them the nickname "suicide doors."

A Journey Through Time and Owners

The car's glamorous tale doesn't end with its technological attributes. Owned by the pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart, the Cord was sold by her husband, George Putnam, two years after her mysterious disappearance in 1937. Over time, this mechanical beauty was disrobed of its original parts, a fate only too common for classics of this vintage.

However, the car's historical essence was not lost forever. Roy Foster, a Texan collector, matched the Cord back with its original V8 engine. The journey didn't end there; it eventually made its way into the hands of wealthy car aficionado Jack Boyd Smith Jr. who funded a meticulous restoration by Travis LaVine of LaVine Restorations. All three custodians—Foster, Smith, and LaVine—will grace the kickoff event in Washington, D.C.

Mark Your Calendars

If you're an automotive enthusiast, a history buff, or just someone who appreciates the tangy mix of technology and mystery, then Amelia Earhart's Cord 812 Phaeton convertible is a must-see. So put it on your calendar, because icons like these don't come around often, and who knows when it will vanish again?

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