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Vince Gardner
Vince Gardner
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As you all know the 810 and 812 Cords are identical and the numbers merely tell whether they were sold as 1936 or 1937 models. The super-charged engine was not ready in 1936 and was therefore only sold in 1937.

I have never claimed that I designed these cars without assistance and I have always shared credit with the other four fellows in the design department. When I was moved from Duesenberg in Indianapolis, where I had just designed the proposed "Baby Duesenberg" to Auburn, to face lift the 1934 model, creating the 1935 model and the super-charged boat-tail speedster, I inherited two co-workers. One was an illustrator, Paul Laurenzen, and a body draftsman, Dick Robinson. I also hired two model builders, Vince Gardner who had just graduated from high school and Dale Cosper who had just graduated from Tri-State Engineering college.

After doing the 1935 Auburn work, we designed the 810-812 Cord. I believe Alex had taken advantage, over the last few years of the fact that everyone who worked at Auburn at the time and could refute his claim of involvement are dead.

For instance, one of his favorite stories is that he became Director of the Design Department after I left the company.

The truth is that there was no design department at the time I left. Dale Cosper had taken a job in Fort Wayne as a body engineer for International Harvester truck division. Paul Laurenzen had taken a job as an illustrator for a steel company in Pittsburg. Dick Robinson went back to body drafting and Vince went with me to the Budd company in Detroit.

Vince Gardner

WE KNOW LITTLE ABOUT the members of Gordon Buehrig's design team at Auburn during the years they were together. There were four in all: Dale Cosper, Vincent Gardner, Richard Robinson and Paul Reuter-Lorenzen. Buehrig hired Cosper and Gardner. Lorenzen and Robinson were already working for Auburn when Buehrig arrived there in early 1934.

Gardner, Cosper and Robinson were sculptors. Lorenzen was the only illustrator.

The 1/4 scale clay model sculpted by Gordon Buehrig, Vince Gardner, Richard Robinson and Dale Cosper during the development of the Cord 810 project is justly famous. We have always referred to this model in the singular, often as the Red Clay Model.

But there was certainly more than one model.

Vol XXXV No.2, 1992


Story and Pictures by Jon Hauser

It was my good fortune to be laid off from the Styling Section of General Motors, because it afforded me the opportunity to gain employment at the Budd Mfg. Co., where I met Vince E. Gardner.

Gordon Buehrig was Director of Design at the Budd Co., and Vince was in charge of the model shop. I had always spent my free time building model airplanes, but here, now, was an opportunity to work with a master model builder.

Vince, as I recall, was from Minnesota. I really don't know too much about his youth, but I do know he possessed the talent to build one of those fabulous Fisher Body Craftsman Guild coaches.

He won several divisions in craftsmanship, but lost in the finals because of some (I hate to say it) politics. Vince, as I recall, was down, but he was never out.

I really have no idea how he got connected with Gordon, but I do know Gordon had a very high regard for Vince's talents. It is my opinion that Vince was a powerful force in the creation of the Cord as a model maker and as an equally talented designer. I recall he had a very good eye for design and form. His models in clay, wood and plaster were impeccable.

We worked together at Budd for about a year until Gordon left. In that time, Vince and I developed a lasting friendship.

I was recalled to G.M. Styling, but I don't know where Vince went. Later I left Detroit to come to Chicago as Director of Design for Sears, Roebuck and Co. One morning I was passing a downtown hotel and saw a stunning sports car parked in front. I parked, and as I was looking at the car, Vince walked up. I knew it was his work, and we were certainly pleased to see each other.

Vince spent many a night in our home, since we insisted if he were to be in Chicago, he must be our guest. Sometime later, Vince gave me the sequence of pictures showing his progress on the sports car. Vince never just pounded out a project - he planned it.

He was always a gentleman and certainly one of the most talented and gifted artisans I have ever known. I cannot express my feelings when I learned of his death and manner of achieving it.

Ed. Note: Vince committed suicide.


A Tribute To Vince Gardner


From Old-time member Josh Maiks of Massachusetts, a copy of the September 1953 edition of Motor Trend Magazine. The cover illustration shown at right features a sports car design by the late Vince Gardner. We are reproducing the cover and the 2 page rotogravure article as a tribute to Vince who helped Gordon Buehrig on the design staff at the Auburn factory during the final production days of the Cord Corporation.

Vince was a highly talented and extremely versatile artisan and craftsman who could not only design or style a product but could engineer and fabricate any necessary mechanical components. Vince's abilities and inherent talents bordered on the genius and his recent sudden death was a shock to all of us who knew him personally. Photo below at right shows Vince as he attended our 1975 Spring Meet with this Editor at Hyde Park and emphasizing a point while conversing with another well known stylist, and ACDer Herb Newport at the meet banquet. Our thanks to Josh Malks whose comments we quote:

"The Motor Trend struck my eye at a flea market, 'cause I remembered that the car on the cover was the one designed and built by the late Vince Gardner after winning Motor Trend's contest to design a sports car body for the Ford Anglia chassis. The prize was the Anglia, and some $$$ to build the body. The 2-page article on pages 38-39 show the car and Vince. Note the headlights! Thought it might be part of a tribute to Vince in a future issue". (J. M.)


By Jim Potter

WHEN YOU HAVE an idea how a car should look and how it should be built - and have the fortitude to follow through with you dreams – you could be Vince Gardner, a one-man automobile designer and engineering genius.

After winning the Ford Times sponsored contest conducted by MOTOR TREND in 1950, Gardner rolled up his sleeves and went     to work. Two years of oft interrupted labor and many headaches produced as neat a sports car as you'll find. Shown for the first time recently at the Michigan Motor Show, the tail lights are set into the rear bumper Retractable headlights are hydraulically car was acclaimed by stylists and the public alike for its many unique features.

It's a truly small sports car: wheelbase 88 inches, height at the cowl only 32 inches (the lowest being built); a 50-inch track (standard cars average 56 inches); road clearance 5 1/2 inches. Yet the cockpit is adequate for a six-foot man and the controls are engineered for easier manipulation than many foreign jobs of comparable size (such as the MG, etc.)

Gardner's plans include duplicating the aluminum-bodied pilot model in Fiberglas. The body and tubular chassis will be available, ready for addition of running gear. The chassis is adaptable for Singer, MG, Ford V8-60, and other powerplants of comparable size.

Overhead-suspended clutch and brake pedals a la Ford. Shift hangs from dash

The door and body pillars are faced with chrome strips. The louvers are functional

Tail lights are set into the rear bumper boots; dual exhausts are below fenders

Retractable headlights are hydraulically controlled, similar to those in the Cord public alike for its many unique features.

Side view shows influence of European styling in high fenders and long, contoured body lines. It's sleek and completely modern


Vol XXIV No 4 1976


Received too late to include in our last issue, this front page story from the June 15th edition of "OLD CARS", the hobby's bi-weekly newspaper which gives some details of Vince's career and the esteem he was accorded by the automotive styling fraternity of which he was a highly talented member. Our apologies for the delayed details and our thanks to "OLD CARS" for the following article.

Vincent Gardner Found Apparent Suicide Victim

The body of automobile design engineer Vincent Edward Gardner was found in a garage northeast of Auburn, Indiana, Sunday, May 16, the victim of an apparent suicide, according to the Auburn Evening Star. He died Friday. May 14.

The report said the 63-yearold Gardner was found by the resident of a home in Mooresville, a village, near Auburn. According to police authorities, the resident called officials after discovering a van in his garage with Gardner inside. A hose was reported found connecting the exhaust       pipe to a hole in the floor of the van. A note was said to have been found near Gardner's body. The note has not, and apparently will not, be released.

Gardner apparently did not know residents of the home but reportedly knew the woman who owned the property.

Services were Thursday May 20, at Duluth, Minnesota, where Gardner was a native and maintained a home.  Gardner was a long-time associate of well-known automobile designer Gordon Buehrig. Buehrig told Old Cars he first met Gardner in 1934 when Gardner had just graduated from high school. The young designer went to Auburn to visit an uncle who was an inventor and an engineer at a printing company. The aspiring designer also visited Buehrig in hopes of obtaining employment. He brought along a sample of his work—a newly acquired regional first prize in a Fisher Body design competition. Buehrig said "It was a beautiful piece of workmanship". Gardner worked for Buehrig as a model maker until 1937, when the Auburn ceased.

Buehrig went to the Budd Manufacturing Company, a Detroit body builder. He brought Gardner with him where he remained for a time after Buehrig left. Buehrig said the men met again at the Raymond Loewy design group at Studebaker in 1945.

"We've been close for years, he added. "He had a greater skill than most other design engineers." Buehrig noted that Gardner had done the design work for the original two-passenger Thunderbird as well as the Charger III for Dodge seen at many automobile shows. He also said Gardner had built a record-setting twin-engined motorcycle.

He reportedly returned to Auburn last year to promote a Gardner-designed Cord replica at an Auburn site. He requested space in the A-C-D museum but was turned down, reportedly due to the fire hazard of the fiberglass materials. His plans called for building fiberglass replicas of the coffin-nosed Cords and placing them on Oldsmobile Toronado front-wheel drive chassis. He was also reportedly working or a snowmobile design.

© 2015 Mark Theobald for







Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark - Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942

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