PEBBLE BEACH, CA – Richard “Dicky” Riegel III, a member of the duPont family, has a strong first memory of the only duPont Model H in existence. As he and friends emerged from their first grade classroom, his grinning father awaited him in the one-of-a-kind car.
“Dad’s enthusiasm and love for cars was infectious,” says Dicky. “Dad wasn’t always a man of many words, but you wanted to be with him because you could sense how much he appreciated the vehicles he was around—which immediately sank into me. My early love of cars was inevitable, unavoidable.”
Dicky’s father, the late Richard “Jerry” Riegel Jr., bought the 1931 duPont Model H Sport Phaeton in 1962, and after driving it for decades he restored it for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2005. There, it was First in Class and Most Elegant Open Car—an award often just a step away from Best of Show.
“This was one of the defining moments in my father’s life—and my mother, my sister, my wife, my son and daughter, and I were all there to share that super moment with him,” says Dicky. “I can say with a high level of certainty, the Phaeton will always be a member of our family.”
This year Dicky returns to Pebble Beach with the same Model H, now co-owned with his son Richard. Six other duPont family members will also be bringing their elegant automobiles to the forthcoming Concours on August 16, where duPont is a featured marque.
Only 537 automobiles were created by E. Paul duPont in a short twelve-year span from 1919 to 1931. About 30 remain in existence, and more than half belong to duPont descendants. Whether inheriting a legendary automobile or landing one at an auction, taking ownership of a duPont car has become a rite of passage. The duPonts now strive to keep the marque alive.
The duPont family transformed the early automotive world in many ways. They held leadership roles that helped define the multi-tiered nature of General Motors, they saved Indian motorcycles from an early demise, and their fast-drying paints and modern fabrics decorated classic cars from a multitude of marques. Their automotive legacy continues on in the world and in the lives of many duPonts today.
Automotive enthusiasts from around the world will flock to California’s Monterey Peninsula the second week of August, culminating with the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, August 16. As usual, several events will take place across multiple days, including auctions, historic races, art exhibits, and more.
Ferrari is this year’s featured marque. A special class will include examples of Ferraris that competed in the Pebble Beach road races of the 1950s, a street competition that predated Laguna Seca Raceway on a course that took drivers through the narrow, forested roads near the grounds of the current Concours. The last road race at Pebble Beach was in 1956, when driver Ernie McAfee fatally crashed his Ferrari into a tree.
The days of competitive street racing at Pebble Beach are gone, but spectators will have the chance to see many of the Concours d’Elegance entrants in action on Thursday, August 13, driving down a route that spans 17-Mile Drive and a portion of Highway 1.
Besides a collection of cars that bear the DuPont nameplate, this year will also feature designs by Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring, postwar examples of cars built by America’s Cup racer Briggs Cunningham, and early vehicles by Pope, a Hartford CT based bicycle manufacturer that experimented with several models, including electric vehicles.