Du Pont Family Motorcycle Collection Being Offered at Auction

The motorcycle collection of the Du Pont family (of the chemical empire) is going up on the auction block and the collection includes nearly fifty motorcycles built over the course of 70 years.

The Du Pont’s have a pedigree in the motoring industry which included luxury automobiles and the family also originally invested in America’s first motorcycle manufacturer – Indian – before they took over the failing company way back in 1929.

E. Paul Du Pont ran the Indian Motocycle Company from 1930 to 1945 when the chemical family scion took over the reins of the struggling firm in the early yearsof the Great Depression. He  managed to put Indian on solid financial footing by the end of the 1930s, and his guidance led Indian to set the standard for motorcycle design. It was under his tenure that the firm introduced the streamlined, art-deco style of the Indian Chief that set the standard of motorcycle beauty and function for the times.

Under Du Pont’s leadership, Indian was also the leading factory in early AMA Class C racing competition and factory rider Ed Kretz became Class C racing’s first big star.

DuPont will be remembered for keeping Indian open during the darkest days of the Depression by focusing on its core business of building motorcycles and the visionary who drove the company’s  engineering department to develop improved models. He was also an enthusiastic backer of the AMA.

The Man Who Saved Indian. E Paul Du Pont
The Man Who Saved Indian. E Paul Du Pont

Highlights of the collection, which of course include numerous Indian models; are a completely untouched, original condition circa 1903 Indian Camelback ($60,000 – $70,000), a 1908 Indian Camelback with an early restoration undertaken by the Indian factory, a 1915 Indian Twin Board Track Racer acquired in the 1950s and – and this may be the most interesting model to the collector – what is believed to be the last Indian Chief supplied to a dealer.

Additionally, there are some notable British motorcycles are included such as a 1951 Vincent Black Shadow ($45,000 – $50,000) with an incredibly low 3,000 some miles on the clock a 1959 Norton Manx whose lineage can be traced back to Francis Beart.

In addition, the Du Pont family collection includes lots of other bikes from America, Europe and Japan including makers like BSA, Ducati, Gilera, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian, Merkel, Ner-A-Car, Norton, Peugeot, Pope, Scott, Simplex, Stephens, Suzuki, Triumph, Vincent and Yamaha.

The Du Pont Museum Collection will be offered at the second annual Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale on January 12th.

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