Bonhams to host sale of Cox Motorcar Collection

Bonhams international auctioneers has announced the addition of the Dr. Ralph W.E. Cox Jr. Collection auction to be held on May 10 in Cape May, New Jersey.
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1911 Ford Model T Torpedo Roadster.

1911 Ford Model T Torpedo Roadster.

Bonhams international auctioneers has announced the addition of the Dr. Ralph W.E. Cox Jr. Collection auction to be held on May 10 in Cape May, New Jersey, hot on the heels of the firm’s recent Scottsdale Auction, where two of Dr. Ralph W. E. Cox Jr.'s most famed automobiles, his 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Tourenwagen and 1932 Auburn Twelve Speedster realized close to $2M total. The remainder of the aviation pioneer’s intriguing collection, which includes such rarities as a San Francisco Cable Car, a Baldwin Steam Locomotive and JB1 Buzz Bomb, in addition to fine antique automobiles, carriages, automobilia and aviation parts and accessories, and even a few musical machines, will go on auction at the NASW Aviation Museum located at the Cape May Airport in New Jersey where it had been on public display from 1961-1964, by kind permission of the NASW Museum.

Dr. Ralph Cox Jr. died two years ago at the age of 97. A true pioneer, he was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he graduated as a Doctor of Dental Surgery from Pittsburgh University in 1937. But once this was achieved, he felt he'd backstopped a career in case his real desire fell foul and chose to pursue his true passion of aviation. Learning his craft in the Navy lead Dr. Cox to a colorful career-long association with the air industry, culminating into a major passenger and commercial aviation enterprise flying all over the country and further a field to Europe, South America and beyond, all from Dr. Cox’s business and home base, the former Naval Air Station at Cape May Country Airport, New Jersey, where he had founded the U.S. Overseas Airlines in 1949.

"Dr. Ralph Cox was an extraordinary pioneering collector of all manner of self propelled machines, and the collection he built was extremely diverse,” Rupert Banner Bonhams Motorcar Specialist said. “Unseen for decades, this auction will return the vehicles to the former site of their display and provide today's collectors of a wide variety of genres of fresh property all offered at no reserve."

In addition to the fine, very early examples of the automobile, the sale will include some highly unusual, rare commercial vehicles like the c1870 Silsby Steam Fire Pumper, a 1920s American LaFrance Ladder Truck and a magnificent opened top 1933 “Double Decker” bus by Yellow Coach, still in its 5th Avenue Coach Company livery!

The Ford marque was of particular interest to Dr. Cox, and the auction is lead by his very early 1904 Ford Model AC Four Seater Tonneau. Alongside it are a Model N, a number of early 'brass radiator' Model Ts and even a Model T fabric bodied speedster of his own design.

Always a popular component of a Bonhams auction, the spare parts and automobilia section of the auction will include dozens of brass lamps, speedometers, horns, engines and other rare antique car parts. A select number of aircraft items, including engines by Continental, Wright and Pratt, Whitney, and even a Wasp Major - one of the largest piston aircraft engines ever built, will also be on offer.

Dr. Cox Jr.’s eye for quality also extended to mechanical music. The collection of numerous musical machines will include two Mills Violano Virtuosos and the crown jewel: a Seeburg Style G orchestrian.

“Single estate sales of extraordinary quality and diversity are one of our hallmarks,” Mr. Banner remarked. “We anticipate that the Dr. Ralph W. E. Cox Jr. Collection sale will join the esteemed ranks of our other renowned estate auctions, such as the “Ted” Jamieson Collection or the Richard Paine Sale.”

The Bonhams auction of The Dr. Ralph W. E. Cox Jr. Collection of motorcars, aviation and automobilia will be on Saturday, May 10th with preview day on the Friday prior. For more information about the Bonhams auction, please contact Rupert Banner at the international motorcar department at 212-461-6514 or visit

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