Step back in time to see elegant automobiles of the country-estate era. Enjoy a series of displays of magnificent historic automobiles on select Saturdays in May. Each Saturday will feature a different thematic display. Weather permitting. Members free. Included with admission.
Why are these historic automobiles at Winterthur?
From 1916 to 1969, hundreds of guests came to Winterthur for glittering social occasions hosted by Henry Francis and Ruth Wales du Pont. During the heyday of this estate, guests arrived in a wide variety of fine automobiles that reflected the latest design. H. F. and Ruth du Pont’s personal vehicles, however, were not so varied. With the DuPont Company owning considerable stock in General Motors, H. F. du Pont purchased only General Motors vehicles. Those included 33 Cadillacs, 5 Buicks, 1 LaSalle, and 1 Oldsmobile. In 1959, at the suggestion of his English chauffeur, du Pont acquired a Rolls-Royce. Before his death in 1969, two more were added to his collection.
Come enjoy this display of elegant automobiles of the country estate era. Each Saturday will feature a different thematic display:
May 6: The Evolution of the Automobile Industry in Springfield, Massachusetts
May 13: Country Estate Automobiles: A Statement in Elegance (1910s–1949)
May 20: Automobiles of the Roaring 20s: Modernity and Mass Production
May 27: Cars of the 1950s: Winterthur Museum Opens to the Motoring Public
Historic Autos Lectures
On select Saturdays in May, there will be lectures associated with the historic auto displays in the Rotunda.
"Rolls-Royce of America, Inc., and the Automobile Industry of Springfield, Massachusetts"
May 6, 12:00 pm
While the story may be largely forgotten, Springfield, Massachusetts, was a major player in the burgeoning motor car industry at the dawn of the age of the automobile. Springfield, located on the Connecticut River, was home to some of the earliest pioneers in the industry including Charles and Frank Henry Duryea. Perhaps most famously, Rolls-Royce of America set up shop in the heart of the city in 1920, producing over 3,000 Silver Ghosts and Phantom Is until the plant was closed in the early 1930s. Gregory Landrey, Dwight and Lorri Lanmon Director of Academic Affairs, Winterthur, discusses automobile manufacturing in Springfield, a story of ambition and global manufacturing resulting in some of the most illustrious motor cars of the era.
"Behind the Scenes in the American Country House"
May 13, 1:00 pm
When guests motored in to visit a large American estate in the first half of the 20th century they arrived at places managed with precision, featuring every latest convenience and comfort. While the buildings were veneered in historical styles, the mechanical systems behind the scenes were state of the art. This talk with Jeff Groff, director of interpretation & estate historian, Winterthur, will examine everything from elevators, telephone and sound systems, to heating and cooling, and it will look at the facilities offered for a range of entertainment.
DuPont Motors Inc.: When Grand Touring was Grand
May 20, 1:00 pm
DuPont Motors Inc. began manufacturing cars in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1919 for the wealthy client, interested in traveling in luxury and style. DuPont cars were known for technical prowess on the race track coupled with the best possible mode of personal travel. The company ended in 1931 with the grand Model G eight-cylinder cars. This talk with Rick Adams, Director of Education, Simeone Automotive Museum, will examine the history of duPont Motors, Inc., while making comparisons to its competitors on the road and the track: Duesenberg, Auburn, Packard, and Stutz.
“America’s Sensational Sports Car: The Corvette in American Culture, 1953-1969 and Beyond"
May 27, 1:00 pm
The mid-20th century was a dynamic period of American automotive history, a time when cars such as the Mustang, the Challenger, the Camaro, the GTO, the Fury, and the Firebird rumbled down America’s roads. One car, however, stands out as a cultural touchstone of that period—the Chevrolet Corvette. From the street to the track, on the silver screen and the television set, the Chevrolet Corvette was driven by astronauts, movie stars, rock n’ rollers, and veterans. These mid-century sports cars were, and still are, cultural icons of the 1950s and 60s. Aside from noting its groundbreaking impact on automotive design, this presentation with Thomas A. Guiler, PhD, manager and instructor, Academic Programs Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, will situate this rolling icon as a symbol of 1950s and 60s American culture, society, and politics, and its role in shaping that history from its inception to the present.