The Bonhams Simeone Museum 2015 auction will be held Monday, October 5th at the Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia. The 4th annual auction, devoted to the hobby and specifically to “Preserving the Automobile”, will feature original, preserved and correctly restored historical automobiles as well as related spares and memorabilia.
A selection of three pre-Great War automobiles from America and Great Britain are among the headline offerings for the Bonhams Simeone 2015 auction. The Stearns, Rainier and Napier highlight the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the Brass Era, with each offering qualities distinct to its marque.
Marketed as the “Best of the World,” Stearns automobiles were acknowledged as one of the finest motorcars of their day. The 60hp, 4-cylinder car of approximately 9-liters was campaigned extensively by the company in numerous speed and endurance tests in 1907, recording three world records: the mile in 41.4 seconds, 25 miles in 29 1/2 minutes in stock form, and another 5 miles in 5 minutes, 19 seconds. Some 19 major race victories were also recorded and they became renowned for their hill climbing capabilities. On one occasion at the Giant’s Despair Hill Climb in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, two fully equipped cars arrived 23 and 20.4 seconds ahead of the third place finisher, and to top it all a Stearns 60hp car was the first gasoline car to ascend the perilous 14,000 foot ascent at Pikes Peak in Colorado, fully laden with seven people on board. By any measure the early Stearns were remarkable cars and testament to their quality, and this rare survivor 1907 Stearns 60hp Seven Passenger Touring (Est. $650,000 – $850,000), formerly part of the William Harrah Collection,is no exception. Restored more than 20 years ago, it remains an imposing representation of an important part of early American motoring history.
A barn-find discovery, the big-horsepower 1908 Rainier Model D 45/50hp Seven Passenger Touring (Est. $250,000 – $350,000) has a known history from new when it carried an impressive sticker price of $4,500. A long-term Southern California car, it remains in original condition with the majority of its grained leather trim being intact and is rife with details such as its original jump seats. Bonhams said the Rainier could be an ideal candidate for preservation or form the basis of a highly authentic and excellent restoration.
As the burgeoning automobile industry quickly progressed, it wasn’t long before the market expected a more refined version of the motorcar – one that didn’t vibrate incessantly or make too much noise, particularly for those used in large cities. Among the first to provide these qualities was Napier of Great Britain, the first company to commercially offer a 6-cylinder car and stake its reputation on a configuration that would soon become the mainstay for Rolls-Royce, Pierce-Arrow and Locomobile, among others. Considered to be one of the premier automobiles of its time, the 1913 Napier T44 30/35hp Touring Car with Coachwork by Cunard offered is an example of their 30hp car, which also has a known history from new and includes use by Randolph Churchill when campaigning for election in 1950 (Est. $150,000 – $180,000).
From the prominent American family du Pont, a name synonymous with a chemical empire, a luxury automobile manufacturer, and America’s first motorcycle company, is a private collection of original racing, experimental, hot rod and stock automobiles that will be offered at Bonhams’ 2015 Simeone auction. 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 famously runs in the blood of the family du Pont. During the First World War, 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 1952 Cooper-Norton Mark VI F3 (Est. $15,000 – $20,000), one of the cars that’s now being offered.
This and another 1958 Cooper Mark XII powered by a Triumph Trophy 500 (Est. $20,000 – $30,000), 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 an original 1938 Morgan Super Sports (Est. $15,000 – $25,000) that Lex bought and toured in the UK, 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. And remaining is the 1934 Ford Pickup Hot Rod (Est. $20,000 – $30,000) that Lex built in the 1950s that’s powered by a supercharged flathead and features an aircraft-style overhead dash board; a real period hot rod still in the possession of its original builder.
Further highlights at the Bonhams Simeone Museum 2015 Sale:
- 1936 Wanderer W25 K Roadster (Est. $350,000 – $450,000) Coachwork by Wendler; From a major European Collection
- 1959 Austin-Healey Speedwell Sprite GT (Est. $70,000 – $90,000), Delivered new to British driver Dan Margulies, Known history from new, Period race history
- 1946 Lincoln Continental Convertible (Est. $115,000 – $130,000), Subject of an extensive restoration, Numerous AACA, CCCA, and Concours awards
- 1962 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 3.8 Roadster (Est. $100,000 – $125,000), Single owner since 1963, Numbers-matching example
The 4rd annual Bonhams ‘Preserving the Automobile’ sale will be held Monday, October 5, 2015 at the impressive Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, with previews taking place the days prior, Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit Bonhams.com/Simeone.