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Dr. Ralph Cox’s Estate Sale

1941 Ford Super Deluxe

We hadn’t ever heard of a Dr. Ralph Cox, but based on his estate, we feel like we should have. Reader Doug M tipped us off to the upcoming auction of Dr. Cox’s estate and there are some very interesting finds in this collection. The good Doctor loved anything with wheels and managed to acquire an impressive collection of some of his all-time favorites. At one time he owned and operated a relatively successful airline based in Cape May, New Jersey, so it only seemed fitting that the auction take place at the airport he ran his business from. The event is set to take place May 10th and is being handled by Bonhams auctions. The complete auction catalog can be viewed here or you can preview it on May 9th at the NASW Aviation Museum in Cape May, New Jersey. Special thanks to Doug for this tip!

1909 Premier Model 45 Raceabout

It sounds like Dr. Cox was an interesting guy that loved just about anything mechanical. His love included air planes, bicycles, and prewar automobiles. When his airline business took off, he began using his extra money to buy the things he loved. He eventually hired a full time mechanic to maintain his air planes, but mostly to help him restore cars. Before long Dr. Cox and his mechanic, Ray Bassett, were traveling the world to buy cars for his collection. As the collection grew, they decided to open it to the public as a museum.

1911 Ford Model T Torpedo Roadster

The Doctor had a special fondness for prewar cars and one of his favorites was the Ford Model T. He acquired a number of variations, ranging from Phantoms to one off roadsters. Having a number of running cars, as well as a number of ongoing projects, meant he needed parts. If you have been looking for that last piece for your early Ford, this auction might be the place to go. There are motors, transmissions, differentials, horns, trim, and just about every other piece you could ever need. He didn’t just focus on Fords though, at one point he even had a 1936 Mercedes K500. Anything that he thought was interesting, unique, or an important part of history ended up in his collection.

1873 Silsby Steam Pumper

If you aren’t into prewar Cars, there are plenty of vehicles and pieces of equipment that are both older and newer. For those that like the history of vehicles and machines built prior to the 1900’s, Dr. Cox had quite a few. Our favorite is the 1873 Silsby Steam Pumper seen above, which is a steam powered fire pump. Since it was pulled to the fire by a team of horses we don’t think it would be appropriate to call it a fire engine, but you can see how its design has impacted fire engines even today. While all of us appreciate these pieces of history, that doesn’t mean we would necessarily want to own one. For those that are looking for something they can actually drive on a regular basis, there are several cars built after the 1940’s in this estate as well.

1957 Cadillac Series 62

Sadly, as life sometimes goes, his airline business hit hard times and had to file for bankruptcy. When it closed its doors in 1964, so did the museum. All of the cars, parts, memorabilia, and air plane components from the museum were relocated to his other properties and forgotten. These cars have set untouched since and now need new homes. It is sad to see all of the energy that was put into this collection lost, but we are glad these pieces of history can see light for the first time in 50 years and hopefully find good homes. Anything here you’d love to have?


  1. That Guy

    I’m a little surprised he thought the 40’s and 50’s cars worth collecting at that time. They were just used cars. I wonder if he continued to add to the collection after 1964.

    But if they really have been sitting since the early 1960’s, there could be some little-used, low-mileage gems there.

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  2. Brian

    What a great old collection! Just think, when he purchased some of these cars, most people probably called them worthless junk and the antique car hobby was so young, most people likely had never thought of it, let alone heard of it! Would be amazing if somehow this collection could be held together!

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  3. Don Melcher

    I’ll take the 57 Coupe de Ville.

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  4. rancho bella

    I’m likin’ the Raceabout and Ford shoebox vert

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  5. RollerD

    The yellow Model T and the 1931 A Model Roadster.

    Here is a link…http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/22174/

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  6. Mark E

    That 1904 Ford Model AC would be perfect for me, though I think the price would be a bit higher than I could go…

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  7. Gerardo Mascorro.

    It’s a shame to see quite a collection being separated.
    Maybe they could opened ‘The Dr. Cox Museum’ or something like that.
    Tough I am one of those ‘Drive the hell out of them’ guys.

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  8. jim s

    what a collection. i would like the to have the L4 piper, ford AR or A or 41, one of the radials and one of the highwheeler. but my bank account says no. great find

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  9. Dona Andreina

    I’ll take the 52 Caddy. Very nice.

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  10. Michael

    I will take the ’28 Ford Sport coupe!

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  11. Barry

    I love that steam “car”, it is a mechanical piece of art. I would like it in my garage just to look at it.

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  12. Bruce R. Colbert

    That Ford ragtop says it’s a ’51.
    I say, looks like a ’49 .

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  13. Manta73wi

    Fascinating finds! The sightseeing bus is awesome, and has to be pretty unique. I’m pretty sure the Ford convertible is a ’51, and not a ’49. The ’49 and ’50 had a central “spinner” in the grill that required a circular opening at the lower edge of the hood. For ’51, they went with smaller twin spinners and the lower edge of the hood was straight, as it is in this car. The grill on this one is not original as the original would have the two circular spinners. I paid attention to this when I learned my mom learned to drive on a ’51 Ford, and that her first car was a ’49 Ford. Quite a design change from the ’48 Fords!

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    • bob

      This Ford convert, is pieced together. The hood is ’51 , the parking lights/turn signals and the door handles are ’49. The fin on the side rear quarter ahead of the tail lights are ’49/’50.

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  14. Diann

    What you see in this article are only the cars that were left after the 1934 boat tail Auburn and Himlers Mercedes were taken to Arizona for auction. At one time Ralph also owned Hitler’s Mercedes which he sold while shipping it from Europe. His airline was no small airline, He is actually one of the characters portrayed in the Howard Hughes Movie. He was a personal friend of Howard Hughes and was screwed by him and the U.S. govt. when they chose a handful of airlines to remain for price regulating. When Ralph passed away he was still actively sueing the US Govt. for conspiring to destroying his business. He was the most interesting person I’ll ever have the privilige to meet in my life time.

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  15. Domenic Politi

    The (yellow!) model T(Dr. Cox collection)) is one of the few early FORDS that I would enjoy owning. I believe this one is the TORPEDO model, the word somewhat an antithesis(?) to the transverse leaf springs all Fords of the era, yet the front does exhibit the submarine exterior hull design having “level” area at top for traditional functions while running afloat.

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