FROM THE ESTATE OF DOROTHY M. RUMSEY
TWO OWNERS FROM NEW
1929 DUPONT MODEL G SPEEDSTER
COACHWORK BY MERRIMAC
Chassis No. G897
Engine No. G897
Grey body and fenders with silver wheels, black leather interior
Engine: Straight eight Continental 12K, L-Head, duPont modified, 322 ci., 140bhp at 3,600rpm; Gearbox: Warner 4-speed manual; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear; Brakes: four wheel lockhead hydraulic. Left hand drive.
E. Paul duPont, who was associated with the Bell Grain Explosive Co., formed duPont Motors, Inc. in 1919, based in Wilmington, Delaware. His goal was to produce a high quality motor car to compete with the likes of Packard, Locomobile, Daniels and Cunningham. To achieve this he searched for the best talent he could find in the industry.
As vice-president and general manager he hired Arthur M. Maris from the Biddle Company in Philadelphia. John A. Pierson, formerly of Wright-Martin Aircraft, was chief engineer and William A. Smith came on board as sales manager having left the position of general manager of Mercer Motors. The new company made its debut at the International Salon that year at the Commodore Hotel in New York with the Model A offered in three body styles.
By 1928 duPont had established themselves as a builder of limited production luxury automobiles. At the request of the New York distributor, Alfredo J. Miranda, Jr., duPont built two four place speedster models based on their new Model G chassis to compete for the Grand Prix d'Endurance at Le Mans in the summer of 1929. He suggested duPont build a sporting model on the order of the old Mercer Raceabout. Then acting chief engineer L.F. Hosley, together with W.A. Smith, general sales manager, had both been with Mercer during the company's racing heyday. Being an avid sportsman, E. Paul duPont needed little convincing. After extensive preparation and testing, one car driven by Charles Moran, Jr. with Miranda as co-pilot, competed in the race. After three hours the big duPont was lying in eighth place with an average speed of 72 miles per hour putting them ahead of all the American entries. Then on the 20th lap the ballast required by the Le Mans rules, shifted on the rear floor subsequently bending the drive shaft and taking them out of the race. The ultimate winner that year was a six and a half litre Bentley averaging 73 miles per hour attesting to the short-lived but respectable showing of the duPont.
Replicas in two and four place configurations using the LeMans chassis were offered to the public after the race. It is unknown how many were actually produced but experts today believe nine are extant. Of these, three were four passenger models with the remaining six being two passenger cars. Three were built with boat tails with a hidden spare, this car being one, and three were built with blunt tails with a conventional rear spare.
The car on offer here was purchased new by K.C. Lambert of St. Louis who owned the St. Louis Airport and whose family started Listerine. In 1933 he sold the car to Michael Rumsey, also of St. Louis, for the sum of $725.00. Rumsey, a keen sportsman, came from a family who owned large foundries and were the first and largest dealer for Winchester Arms west of the Mississippi. He and his wife Dorothy toured extensively in the car, taking it up Pike's Peak in the 30's and on hunting trips in New Mexico. During World War II, Mr. Rumsey took the car to Mexico searching for lumber. In 1956 he found a wrecked speedster in Prescott, Arizona, which he promptly purchased, salvaging the motor and other mechanical parts; these spares are still with the car today. On Mr. Rumsey's death in 1974, the car passed to his wife, Dorothy, who together with her friend and business partner, Paul Greiling Sr., used the car until her death last year at age 84. Even in her eighties she was still piloting her own Cessna 210! This dashing motor car, two owners since new, is a fine, rare example of a great American pre-war sportscar.