DESPITE HARD TIMES IN THE 1920s—severely dry from Prohibition and the Dust Bowl, then there was that defining stock market crash on Wall Street—it remains a decade of intrigue and historical landmarks, like shoulder pads. From canned beer and the ballpoint pen to Mickey Mouse in color and the jet engine, there was a proliferation of new technologies, especially in the fields of intercontinental aviation, radio and film. Automobiles were no exception. (Just ask the infamous Bonnie and Clyde.) Before Jack Kerouac was even on the road, there were Phaeton convertibles cruising countryside. Full of history and lineage, this hunky convertible holds an operable engine and drives 4-speed manual transmission.

With a newly equipped and highly advanced drivetrain for its time, Cord 812 Phaeton was the first American car designed and built with front wheel drive and independent front suspension. Plus, the styling looks the part—as nothing before it or since looks quite like it. The bona fide design incorporated hidden door hinges, pontoon fenders with pop-up headlights and a rear-hinged hood that allowed for the unusual shape of the front end to be nicknamed “coffin nose”. The lights themselves were actually Stinson aircraft landing lights—one of a few fashionable airplane-themed touches on the car. The dashboard is another airplane-inspired design feature, and one that was used primarily for expensive luxury cars of that era. While innovation helped Cord stay afloat during economic hardship compared to other carmakers, the Depression hit hard, unfortunately shutting Cord down by 1937—making the 812 its last new model.

This is one of roughly only 400 non-supercharged Phaetons built. The 812 was even named “The Single Most Beautiful American Car” by American Heritage magazine in 1996. It’s unfortunate for the automotive world that such a progressive and bold car was made at such an inopportune time. However, this particular chariot received a top-notch restoration to its original specifications, including a paint body job–touching up the Art Deco-inspired cigarette cream exterior, which beams with the whitewall tires, chrome detailing and black canvas convertible top. Ignore the rubberneckers and just imagine yourself riding shotgun alongside Humphrey Bogart or Fred Astaire as you sit aloft the rich, red leather seats, hair blowing in the wind while gripping the oversized, red steering wheel and fiddling the stations for sounds of swing jazz.