1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158

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Lot 68
One of only 4 built
1952 CUNNINGHAM C4R CONTINUATION

US$ 750,000 - 1,100,000
€ 620,000 - 900,000
Amended
1952 CUNNINGHAM C4R CONTINUATION

Chassis no. R5220
Engine no. C53.8.10158

331ci, OHV Hemi V8 Engine
4 Dual Throat Downdraft Weber 48IDA Carburetors
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Independent Front Suspension by Coil Spring, Live Axle Rear Suspension, by Coil Spring
4-Wheel Ventilated Disc Brakes

*One of only 4 continuation C4Rs built
*Virtually as new with only 130 miles on the odometer
*Exhilarating performance and iconic design
*Extremely rare collector opportunity
*Potentially eligible for a host of historic events


THE C4R

In automotive circles, Briggs S. Cunningham Jr. was the quintessential American sportsman of the 1950s – as such, was the subject of a Time magazine cover story in 1954

"The example [Briggs] set played a major role in promoting and expanding road racing. This, in turn, advanced the technology of the automobile itself, particularly in the areas of chassis design, handling and braking. He was a great athlete who pursued his ideal: to make America tops in sports-car racing"

Richard Harman, Author
Cunningham - The Passion The Cars The Legacy


In the course of Briggs Cunningham's legendary efforts to bring American-powered sports cars to victory; he built, fielded, and drove some of the most enthralling automobiles of his time. Of the 36 cars Cunningham built bearing his family name; only nine were all-out racecars, only three of them were the legendary C4Rs – two roadsters and one "C4RK" coupe.

The three C4R (racing) cars vigorously campaigned by the works team in 1952-54 brought Cunningham his greatest competition successes. All of the C4Rs were powered by a modified-for-competition Chrysler hemi-head V8 engines. Beginning with John Fitch winning the 1952 Elkhart Lake race, the blue-striped white sports roadsters were victorious at seven major races over the next two years —including the 1953 Sebring race. (Phil Walters and John Fitch driving). The fact that the three C4Rs won 74% and finished 84% of the races they entered demonstrated their durability.

They were not only reliable, but also safe. As a tribute to its maneuverability, the legendary Mercedes-Benz engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, said after test driving a C-4R in 1953, "That's the safest handling racing car I have ever driven."


Briggs Cunningham took the three C4Rs to Le Mans in pursuit of the triumph that was his ultimate racing objective. The roadsters were class winners in 1952 (with Cunningham and Bill Spear driving) and 1954 (Sherwood Johnston and Bill Spear driving. The Cunningham team's 3rd place overall in the 1954 race was the best C4R showing at Le Mans.

To give an idea of the vision and ethos with which these cars were built, the current owner of this car fondly recalls taking him out for his final drive in a C4R (R5217) at the Palm Springs vintage races in 1994. Upon entering the straight, Briggs, then in his mid-eighties, forcefully motioned with a clenched fist: 'give it everything'!


CARRYING THE FLAME - THE CONTINUATION CARS

Today, all three of the highly prized original C4R racecars are in major private collections The Simeone Foundation (R5217) and The Revs Institute (R5216 and R5218), where they will likely long remain. Perhaps, not surprisingly this precipitated the idea of building others; however only one series of 'continuations' have been built to date.

In the early 1990s, Seattle Cunningham enthusiast Larry Black set about creating a faithful recreation of the C4R racecar. Black planned to duplicate the famed original as closely as possible including its race-tuned Chrysler "hemi" engine. The prototype was operational by 1994, and Black arranged to put Cunningham scion, Briggs Cunningham III, behind the wheel.

Viewing the proposed C4R revival as an opportunity to honor his father's legacy, Briggs III acquired a substantial financial interest in the project. By 1997, the resurrected Cunningham operation had been moved to Lime Rock, Connecticut. With the endorsement and resources of the Cunningham family behind it, the new C4R became a true "continuation" of the original design, and it was so designated. Veteran Cunningham team drivers John Fitch and Phil Walters helped sort out the Continuation prototype – ensuring the car's performance and handling would impress journalists and delight enthusiasts.

Unforeseen business issues resulted in only four C4R Continuation cars being completed under Cunningham family auspices. A fifth C4R recreation, based on an original Cunningham C-3 chassis, was completed by a private an English collector in 2012.

Beautifully representing the dedication, skill and passion Briggs S. Cunningham brought to his original 1952-53 racecars; the four superbly executed authorized C4R Continuations built by the Cunningham family are the consummate tribute to Briggs Cunningham Jr and his renowned auto racing legacy.


THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

This is the second of those continuation cars produced, chassis R5220, which was acquired by its current owner Bob Williams shortly following the sale of the original C4R racer (R5217) to the Simeone Foundation. R5220 was intended to fill the void resulting from the sale of R5217, but as detailed in Dr. Simeone's book The Spirit of Competition, a unique and truly extraordinary relationship evolved between the former and current owners. Fred describes it as 'A shared custody',

Bob Williams and I have a peculiar relationship with this car. Clearly, his love for the car, his subsequent use of it in a variety of events such as The Colorado Grand, the Le Mans Retrospective, etc. indicate that he has maintained his active interest which is unaltered from before our acquisition until now. Bob has always respectfully handled the car at choice events throughout much of almost two decades since we began sharing custody. Although the foundation is the owner, Bob has maintained it in every possible way, upgrading whatever changes have resulted from his driving, whether it be touring such the Colorado Grand or racing at Laguna Seca."

In Fred's inscription of his book to Bob, Fred warmly states: "To Bob, Thank you for sharing the passion, Fred Simeone."

R5220 has been shown at many of the gatherings of Cunningham cars in the last few years, including at Lime Rock Park for the Labor Day event held in 2013, and here at The Quail in 2007. It has also been exhibited at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

It is one thing to read of the Cunningham C4R legend, the evocative snapshot in the history books, but another to be able to sample that legend. The car we present provides exactly that – and a truly awe-inspiring opportunity it is too, as this cataloguer can attest. The sheer presence this has is immediately impressive – but as soon as the beast is fired up and the ground- shaking 331 Chrysler hemi V8 bursts into life, the reality of that potential takes hold... The spartan cabin, and dog-leg steering wheel position are quite unlike almost any other car. As the C4R truly thunders down the road....it is an experience that is highly recommended.

After, his long association with both cars 5217 and 5220, its present owner has made the decision to part with 5220 and, with that move, has enabled another enthusiast to sample one of these cars and, in his own way, celebrate the spirit of Briggs Cunningham and all that he stood for.

Better still is the fact owing to the owner's limited time and the 'shared custody' that he has retained of his former car, it really has seen very little use since its build in the late 1990s, and carries around 130 miles total on its clock. Consequently it is in immaculate 'out of the box' order which only one collector will be able to prize as a "center point".

As configured today, with its more modern upgrades to a synchromesh gearbox and disc brakes, its application might be more for enjoyment on the road and for its pure beauty. Inquiries made by Bonhams with the organizers of the Goodwood Race Circuit Meetings, and select tours suggest that if matched to original specifications it would be welcomed at these important and popular types of events.

The term 'icon' is frequently overused in car literature, but it is entirely appropriate for the C4R, a piece of American history that in its spirit, aesthetics and is an all American thoroughbred. When one thinks of Cunningham's racers, the C4R invariably comes to mind.

In 2015, the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance honors the "Postwar Cunninghams", this represents a very rare opportunity to actually buy one...

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.
Contacts
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
1952 CUNNINGHAM  C4R CONTINUATION  Chassis no. R5220 Engine no. C53.8.10158
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