Du Pont Collection Joins “Preserving the Automobile” Auction

Bonhams has consigned a private collection of original racing, experimental, hot rod and stock automobiles from the prominent American family du Pont — a name synonymous with a chemical empire, a luxury automobile manufacturer, and America’s first motorcycle company.

The property of Alexis “Lex” du Pont, son of motoring magnate E. Paul du Pont, the collection consists of cars from Cooper, Ford and Morgan and are all in original, as-raced or unrestored period condition.

Motoring runs in the blood of the family du Pont. During World War I, E. Paul du Pont built marine engines for the Allies under DuPont Motors and then, from 1919 to 1931, luxury automobiles that rivaled the likes of Packard and Cadillac. Then in 1930 he took over the ailing Indian Motocycle (sic) Company and helped usher in one of the most successful eras in Indian’s history. Lex followed his father’s interest in motoring, but in racing rather than business, and became one of the most successful Formula 3 drivers in America. During the 1950s he not only achieved the status of national F3 champion but also set the lap record at Lime Rock Park in a Cooper F3 – one of the cars now being offered.

This and another Cooper, the first powered by a Norton Manx 500 and the second by a Triumph Trophy 500, are two of the winningest American F3 cars and remain in untouched condition. Additionally, the collection offers two other Norton Manx engines – a long-stroke and a short-stroke – as well as many Cooper spares, some of which are unused in their original works crates.

Other notable cars in the collection include a highly original 1938 Morgan Super Sports that Lex bought and toured in the U.K. and three Fords of varying vintages and models. First is an original, low serial number 1906 Ford Model N. Next is the 1924 Ford Model T roadster that served as an experimental test bed for DuPont Motors, the shortened chassis of which was to test a possible suspension design for a model in development. The 1934 Ford pickup hot rod that Lex built in the 1950s is powered by a supercharged flathead and features an aircraft-style overhead dashboard — a real period hot rod still in the possession of its original builder.

Most of these “time warp condition” cars testify to Lex’s engineering skills in the many refinements they contain and offer a unique opportunity for the collector to acquire genuine automobiles with exceptional provenance.

The recently consigned du Pont Collection is an early entry for the fourth annual Preserving the Automobile Auction, which will be held at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia on October 5. Consignments are now invited, and owners of unique, original condition motorcars are encouraged to contact the Bonhams Motoring Department.

Email: motors.us@bonhams.com
East Coast: 212-461-6514
West Coast: 415-391-4000


Tony Piff

SCM Auctions Editor and Photographer

Tony has long trumpeted the virtues of collecting Japanese cars. His daily driver is a 1970 Toyota Hilux — the one with the turn signals on top of the fenders. His popular “Rising Sun” column keeps a pulse on the J-tin market.

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