Since building a massive fortune in the gunpowder business during the 19th century, the du Pont family rose to prominence as one of America's most powerful industrial families. In the early 20th century, their interests expanded into the chemical industry, and then automobiles. Pierre S. du Pont was a crucial figure in rescuing General Motors after the notoriously unpredictable William "Billy" Durant nearly ran the company into the ground. Best known today for their global chemical business, the du Pont clan has been involved in a great many industries over time. One of the most intriguing projects was the Du Pont automobile of 1919-1930, a distinguished motorcar worthy of a famous family name.
Paul du Pont registered Du Pont Motors just before the outbreak of World War I, initially to build marine engines. Following the Armistice, the company shifted its focus to automobile production. As to not conflict with Pierre du Pont's interests in General Motors, the Du Pont automobile sat in the upper echelon of the market, along with Stutz, Pierce-Arrow, and the like. In a deliberate move to help the car stand out in a competitive market, Du Pont chose the 1919 International Salon rather than the New York Auto Show to debut the first model. Period advertisements proclaimed the Du Pont was "As aristocratic as its name."
The earliest Du Ponts used four-cylinder engines designed and built in-house, but later they switched to Herschell-Spillman, then Wisconsin engines, the latter being known for powering the original Stutz Bearcat. In 1929 Du Pont introduced its most famous, and most popular model of all, the Model G. It featured a 322 cubic-inch eight-cylinder L-head supplied by Continental engine and chassis options ranging from 125-inches to a stately 150-inches in wheelbase, with a range of spectacular bodies by prestigious builders including Merrimac, Derham, and Waterhouse. The Model G offered exceptional quality and high levels of performance. The raciest offering was a 2-seat speedster, which inspired a four-seat tourer that ran in the 1929 Le Mans 24 hour race, carrying the American flag alongside Stutz and Chrysler. The Du Pont showed promising performance but was eventually sidelined by mechanical troubles. The Model G proved to be Du Pont's final production car, as the receivers moved in after just 273 cars (and 3 Model H chassis). Like many of their counterparts in the prestige automobile market, the stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression sealed Du Pont Motors' fate, and despite their financial standings, the du Pont family saw no reason to keep the project afloat.
Presented in the splendid original shade of Sarasota Blue, this stunning Du Pont Model G is the only surviving example to feature the gorgeous 2-seat roadster coachwork by Waterhouse of Webster, Massachusetts. Chassis number G840 has a fascinating history, having been cared for by several noted collectors, including William F. Harrah and the du Pont family. This particular car is the sole surviving Waterhouse-bodied roadster, personally designed by Du Pont's Pacific Coast agent, Mr. E.A. Van Trump Jr, denoted by a special plaque on the dash. The specification includes a 142-inch wheelbase chassis, and the so-called West Coast Package, which added chrome wire wheels, radiator stone guard, winged radiator mascot, and single-tone paint on the body and fenders with a cream accent panel on the door. Standard cars generally had black wings and painted wheels, so this car's paint scheme and bright chrome give it a sophisticated and sporty character. Waterhouse is widely known for bodies of exquisite quality and style, and this car is certainly no exception. Mr. Van Trump presumably used the vehicle as a demonstrator before selling it in 1930 to its first private owner, Mr. Charles W. List of Los Angeles, who paid $6,500 for the privilege of owning this unique and prestigious Du Pont Model G.
List owned the car for 22 years, holding on to it through the darkest period of the Great Depression. He then sold it to Samuel Timpson of Inglewood, California, who owned it for the next 11 years. In 1963, G840 joined the world-famous collection of William F. Harrah in Reno, Nevada. The Du Pont remained a part of the collection until 1984 – four years after Harrah's death. It was purchased at a Harrah's auction by another world-famous collector, John Mozart. At the time of Mozart's purchase, the car was tired but remarkably complete, needing a full restoration. It stayed with Mozart briefly before returning to its roots in the hands of William K. du Pont. Before taking delivery, du Pont gave the car to Stu Laidlaw in California for a full restoration.
The initial restoration is well-documented through receipts and correspondence. In 1989, it returned to Delaware for the first time since 1930, back in the original family's hands. S/N G840 remained in the du Pont family collection for the following 27 years, only appearing occasionally at shows and special exhibits. The most recent owner acquired it from the du Pont family in 2012. At the time, the 1980s restoration was due for a refresh, so the new owner enlisted Steve Babinsky's highly-respected Automotive Restorations in Lebanon, New Jersey. Babinsky performed a world-class refurbishment to spectacular concours standards, completed in 2015. Numerous details were discovered to be unique to this car, including the build plaque with Mr. Van Trump's name, and the Du Pont-branded spring gaiters. The fit and finish of the coachwork are exemplary of Waterhouse's typically high standards, and the presentation is sublimely elegant in its original paint color, with subtle light blue accents, a straw-colored band in the door, and lush, dark blue leather interior.
Since its restoration, this stunning du Pont has participated in a handful of select concours events, scoring a class award at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. It also earned an AACA Senior National First Prize at Hershey in 2017, scoring 100 points and winning Best Open Car in its class, and a 100-point CCCA Senior First Prize. It remains in breathtaking, meticulously-detailed condition. As the sole-surviving Du Pont to feature this gorgeous Roadster coachwork by Waterhouse and exceptionally well-documented history, G840 is a superb choice for entry in the world's premier concours and touring events.
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