Dentist, aviator Cox’s collection offered up by Bonhams

Back in January, Bonhams’ Scottsdale auction sold a pair of cars from the Dr. Ralph W.E. Cox Jr. Collection. His 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K sports phaeton brought $1.43 million and his 1933 Auburn 12-161A custom speedster sold for $451,000.

Bonhams has just announced that it will stage a single-estate auction of the Cox collection cars — and more — May 10 at the NASW Aviation Museum at Cape May, N.J., where the collection had been on public display in the early 1960s.

In addition to classic cars, the aviation pioneer’s collection includes a San Francisco Cable Car, a JB1 Buzz Bomb, aircraft engines and musical machines including two Mills Violano Virtuosos and a Seeburg Style G orchestrian.

“Dr. Ralph Cox was an extraordinary pioneering collector of all manner of self-propelled machines, and the collection he built was extremely diverse,” said Rupert Banner, a Bonhams motorcar specialist. “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.”

Cox, who died two years ago at the age of 97, was a dentist and Naval aviator who flew anti-submarine missions during World War II. After the war, he bought surplus aircraft from the military and launched U.S. Overseas Airlines, flying military personnel around the globe for several years as well as providing civilian flights to Hawaii.

Among the vehicles offered at the auction will be an 1870 Sisby steam fire pumper, 1920s American LaFrance ladder truck, 1933 double-decker motor coach in 5th Avenue Coach Co. livery, a 1904 Ford Model AC four-seater tonneau, several “brass radiator” Model Ts and a fabric-bodied Model T speedster of Cox’s own design.


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