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1931 DuPont Model H news, pictures, specifications, and information

Sport Phaeton
Coachwork: Merrimac
 
A one-of-a-kind car built specifically for the 1931 New York Auto Show. This car is one of only three Model H duPonts ever built and one of approximately 35 duPonts known to exist today. DuPont built a total of 516 automobiles between 1919 and 1931.

The Sport Phaeton design featuring dual cowls, twin spare tires hung at the rear of the car, and graceful, sweeping lines accentuated by its paint scheme, is known as the most elegant of all duPont cars.

Owned by Jerry Reigel, his son Dicky and Grandson Richard. The car has been in the Riegel family since 1962.
In 1802 E.I duPont deNemours and Company was formed to produce gunpowder. It was located in Wilmington, Delaware. From there is began producing various industrial and consumer products.

In 1919 the duPont car Company was formed by E. Paul duPont. During the First World War it produced marine engines. In 1919 the Model A was displayed at the New York International Auto Show, held at the Commodore Hotel. The Auto Show at that time was by invitation only and catered to wealthy individuals. Sitting atop a 3150 mm wheelbase and powered by a four-cylinder engine, the Model A was built as a luxury and exclusive automobile, outfitted with exquisite coachwork including Murphy, Merrimac and Wolfington.

From 1920 through 1924 the duPont Car Company produced their Model B, a vehicle that was similar to the Model A. The total production of the Model A and Model B was less than 120 units, a testament to their exclusivity. Each of the vehicles were tested by E. Paul and the new owners were carefully instructed on the use and features of the automobile.

In 1923 the Model C was introduced. It was powered by six-cylinder Continental engine. This model was soon replaced by the Model D powered by a six-cylinder Wisconsin engine. In 1927 the Model E was introduced. It was experimentation with supercharging the engine and did not meet with the desired results. The following year the Model F was introduced sitting atop a 3454 mm wheelbase. Production was low with only three being built. During the same year the Model G was introduced, sitting atop a larger chassis measuring 3851 mm. It was powered by an eight-cylinder Continental engine and producing 125 horsepower. A two-passenger speedster version of the Model G was produced and intended to compete in the grueling 24-Hours of LeMans but was deemed ineligible because it did not have four seats. To comply with the requirement, duPont began constructing two four-passenger speedsters however only one was ready in time for the race. The duPont speedster managed to run eighth place before crashing. To commemorate this effort, duPont introduced the LeMans model in 1930.

From 1930 through 1931, duPont produced the Model H. This was also produced in low numbers, only three created. It used a Stearns-Knigh frame that had been lengthened to a wheelbase of 3683 mm.

The Great Depression was ultimately the reason for the demise of the luxury car manufacturer, duPont. During the production lifespan lasting from 1919 through 1931, only 537 duPont automobiles were produced.

By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006

1931 DuPont Model H

The final development of the DuPont marque was the production of the Model H with a long wheelbase of 12 feet 2 inches. The example shown has a custom body by Merrimac-Marshall on a Stearns Knight frame and was awarded 'Most Elegant Open Car' at the 2005 Pebble Beach conocours d'Elegance.
The duPont Model A was debuted at the 1919 International Salon at New York's Commodor Hotel. It features a duPont engine which was cast en block L-head four-cylinder unit that displaces 250 cubic-inches. A total of three bodystyles were offered including a four-passenger touring, a two-passenger roadster and a four-passenger sedan. It had a wheelbase that measured 124 inches and the price range was from $4,000 to $5,6000. In the late 1910s, this was a very steep price tag.

The Model B was introduced shortly after the model and the changes were minor, mostly in cooling. Total production of the Model A and B cars during the first five years was only 118 models. Quality was high and the hand assembly and high level of craftsmanship was slow and meticulous.

In 1923 the Model C was introduced using the Model B chassis and powered by an L-head Herschell-Spillman six-cylinder engine that displaces 287 cubic-inches and produced 64 horsepower. The two-passenger roadster and five-passenger touring each sold for $2,090 which was a significant price decrees over the prior models. The most expensive Model C was the Suburban sedan or five-passenger touring sedan, each selling for $3,085. A total of 47 examples were built during a 16 month period.

Next came the Model D which was similar to the Model C but fitted with a Wisconsin 268 cubic-inch overhead-valve six which produced 75 horsepower. A new feature designed by G. Briggs Weaver was the central chassis lubrication system. Weaver, a designer educated at the Rhode Island School of Design, who's resume included work at Waterhouse, was tasked with designing the bodies. The cost to own the Model D's ranged from $2,600 to $3,400 with a total of 27 examples created during the two years of production.

Paul duPont began experimenting with superchargers. They offered many benefits but also had their share of drawbacks. One was the excessive amounts of noise, cooling issues, and lubrication problems of the centrifugal supercharger. duPonts solution was to run the engine as half speed and force pure air straight into the combustion chamber at the bottom of the intake stroke. To compensate for the additional air, the carburetor mixture was set richer. Sadly, the system was unsuccessful and only one example was ever created on the Model E chassis.

The Model E was produced in 1927 and 1928. They rode on a wheelbase that measured 125-inches and offered in five bodystyles with price tags that ranged from $2,800 to $3,400. A total of 60 were created which was very impressive for duPont, with nearly a fifth of them being exported.

There were only three examples of the Model F created. Each rode on a very long, 136-inch wheelbase.

Probably the most memorable of all duPonts were the Model G's, introduced in late 1928. Power was from a eight-cylinder L-head Continental 12-K engine that displaces 322 cubic-inches. It had an aluminum cover over the distributor, spark plugs and wiring which made it waterproof and gave it the allusion of having overhead valves. The 125 horsepower engine rested in a wheelbase that measured up to 141 inches. The price of ownership included hydraulic shock absorbers and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. The sticker price ranged from #4,360 to $5,750 and buyers were able to select from twelve body styles which included roadsters to town cars. Most were bodied by Merrimac Body Company.

The Merrimac Body Company was established by Stanley Judkins, son of John Judkin's of the J.B. Judkins Company who were famous for their bodying of Lincolns and Packard's, among others. Both were located in Merrimac, Massachusetts, along with around 40 other custom coachbuilders. This Mecca location attracted the most influential and prominent buyers from around the world who would come to see the new designs and creations.

The Merrimac Body Company was initially created to aid Judkins in creating vehicles, as Judkins was backlogged by numerous orders for their work. Merrimac's largest customer became Rolls-Royce of America in Springfield, though they bodied other marques such as Lincoln, Locomobile, Franklin and Packard. Their legacy resides with the work they did for duPont and the sensational Model G Speedsters.

The world was blessed with the introduction of the Model G Speedster at the January 1929 New York Auto Show. It was bodied by Merrimac and shown in two-passenger configuration.
There were gently-sweeping fenders, a bull-nose grille, and other unique and distinctive trademarks. The first individual to purchase the Model G Speedster was Mary Pickford for her husband Douglas Fairbanks.

duPont's New York distributor was A.J. Miranda, who also handled the Delage and Maybach vehicles. After seeing the Speedster, it conjured up an idea to enter it in the 24 Hours of LeMans race. The problem being was that rules required a four-seat body. A pair of cars were ordered in proper configuration for the race. One of the cars was driven by Miranda and Charles Moran Jr., and the other was to be driven by Major Sidney Cotton and his wife. Cotton was the Australian distributor. Sadly, the Cotton car was damaged prior to shipment and did not make the race. The Miranda car weighed 4,500 pounds and produced 140 horsepower. Unfortunately, the duPont retired prematurely from the race due to mechanical problems.

Around 15 examples of the four-passenger Speedster were created in three different configurations. The list includes six with an exposed trunk, at least one had a sloping back with a compartment inside, and the remaining vehicles had a pointed boat tail rear end. Most had doors only on the passenger side.

In 1930 the Model H was introduced, which was basically a Model G but with a longer Stearns-Knight wheelbase that measured 146-inches. A total of three were built consisting of a two car and two sport models. The sports chassis were later bodied as a sport phaeton and a closed-coupled sedan by Dietrich. The other received a formal Berline body and a flat radiator.

With the Great Depression in full swing, the list of potential clients dwindled. The competition for the luxury car segment was at a pinnacle and Paul duPont decided to suspend production until the economy was more stable. Sadly, the duPont marque never resumed automobile production.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007
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