A gold mine of NOS parts

Glenn Pray is known for his second-generation Auburn Speedsters and Cord 8/10 models, but his business is also a gold mine of NOS parts for Auburns and Cords.

Story by Angelo Van Bogart
Photos by Felix De Geyter

For years, Glenn Pray’s Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Co. was so busy building its second-generation Auburn Speedsters and Cord 8/10s, the fact it was sitting on a gold mine of NOS parts for original Auburn and Cord automobiles was nearly forgotten. Now that the last 300,000 lbs. of those 2,600 vintage, never-installed parts have finally been sorted and identified, the “open” sign outside Pray’s business in Broken Arrow, Okla., has never been more relevant to Auburn and Cord restorers.

Pray acquired the parts in 1960 when he bought the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Co. from Dallas Winslow and moved truckloads of fenders, trim and mechanical parts for Auburns and Cords from the ACD factory showroom (now the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum) in Auburn, Ind., to Broken Arrow. Those hard-to-find parts served Auburn and Cord enthusiasts and Pray’s own restorations for many years.

“When Glenn bought the company, he estimated that there was 600,000 to 700,000 lbs. of parts,” said Felix De Geyter, a friend of Pray’s and one of many who helped sort the parts. “Over the years, he thinks we have sold half, so he now calls it 300,000 lbs. of parts.”

Those tons of parts were moved and stored in thousands of beer boxes, and through the years, Pray worked through many of them, but hundreds remained in 2010.

“When I came to Broken Arrow to be his parts manager in 1963, we had 4,000 beer cases of parts,” De Geyter said. “I left ACD in 1966, hoping the last 400 to 500 beer cases would be sorted. But that didn’t happen. So in November 2010, we sorted the last of the beer cases.”

“He had brought in all these boxes of parts and he set them upstairs in beer boxes laid flat on the floor,” said Randy Ema, a friend to Pray as well as a fellow ACD restorer and expert. “He had gone through them through the years, but they had never been put on shelves and were unsorted. He claims he could find everything, and he did have an excellent knowledge, but we found stuff he didn’t think he had.”

The efforts of De Geyter and Ema and many other friends last November made the last of Pray’s parts more accessible and easier to sell.

“Before” (above) and “after” (below) views of Glenn Pray’s Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg
Co. Efforts to identify and sort Pray’s massive inventory are complete, making rare
parts more accessible to restorers and collectors.

“[Pray] didn’t think so, but I told him I thought we could [sort and identify the parts] in five days,” Ema said. “We weren’t 100 percent done in those five days, but we were close enough.”

The work included cleaning the area, identifying the parts and assigning them part numbers, then inventorying the parts in a computer.  “They can find the parts now,” Ema said. “They know what they are and they can send pictures and lists of the parts to customers now.”

According to Ema, the majority of the NOS parts are mechanical components for 1928-’36 Auburns and Cords with some trim and other components mixed in. The bulk of the inventory includes radiators, manifolds, gears, bushings, hubcaps, headlamps, headlamp lenses and other parts. There is a very small number of earlier Auburn and Cord parts, plus some still-unidentified parts for other makes. Such parts were saved, but not everything found in the two-story pickle factory Pray operated from was worth keeping.

“They had just used the upstairs as a dumping ground for 50 years,” Ema said. “In organizing the upstairs, we threw [enough to fill] two large, 40-foot dumpsters and two double-long trailers full of scrap iron. But don’t worry, we didn’t throw anything good away.”

For part inquires and a computerized list of items available through Pray’s Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Co., contact the factory at 918-251-3161 or 918-812-4070, or e-mail felixdegeyter@yahoo.com.

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