The duPont Company is a well known name in many households for their production of numerous products throughout the years. The company was formed in 1802 and based in Wilmington, Delaware where they produced gun powder. From there, they expanded in many facets of industry, dealing heavily in chemical and consumer products. However, their production of the automobiles is not widely known as production was limited and catered only to the wealthiest of clients. From 1920 through 1923 Pierre duPont was the president of General Motors, who had taken over the duties of founder William Durant.
The duPont Motor Company was formed by E. Paul duPont during the First World War. During World War I they produced marine engines in support of the war efforts. At the conclusion of the war, they switched to automotive engine production. Having solid financial stability, the company was able to hire the best and the brightest individuals to engineer some of the most advanced engines and technology of the era.
In 1919, duPont Motors introduced their Model A at the International Salon in New York's Commodore Hotel. This event was not open to the public; it was an invitation-only affair that collected some of the most prominent consumers and introduced them to the fine coachwork.
The Model B was replaced by the Model B which was introduced in late 1920. Production of the Model B continued until 1924. Combined production totals for the Model A and Model B was 118, underlining the exclusivity of these vehicles.
In 1923, duPont introduced the Model C, which was followed by the Model D, and then the Model E in 1927. The Model F was next, but only three were ever produced. They were similar to the Model E but rested on a slightly larger wheelbase.
In 1928, duPont introduced their first eight-cylinder engine and their Model G. The Continental engine displaced 5.3-liters and produced 125 horsepower. The Model G was available as a phaeton, coupe, sedan, Victoria, limousine, sport, and convertible. Coachbuilders were given the opportunity to great the elegant bodies for this ultra-luxury vehicles, such as Merrimac, Derham, and Waterhouse. The cost to own one was between $4,360 and $6,125 depending on coachwork and configuration.
A few duPonts were even used in racing, though they picked the world's greatest stages to showcase their talents. Their initial example to enter the LeMans was declined since rules stated that four seats were required. In response, two four-passenger speedster were created, one was ready in time for the race. The car ran strong until it was forced to retire prematurely from the 24-Hour race. In 1930 a duPont was entered in the Indianapolis 500. The car raced for 22 laps before swerving to avoid a pile-up and running into a wall.
The Model H was introduced in 1930 and produced until 1931. Only three examples were ever created. They rested on a long 12-feet, 2-inch wheelbase - one example was named the 'Most Elegant Open Car' at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Production continued until 1931 with a total of 537 duPont vehicles being produced.
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2012
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