Cunningham C4-R #1 – Spark

1954 Cunningham C4-R
Pilots: B. Cunningham, J. Gordon-Bennett
Team: B. S. Cunningham
Race: 5th GC (2nd S 8.0 class) at Le Mans in 1954
Spark - S2728 (resin) 

Published 06/30/19

Briggs Swift Cunningham started building race cars in 1940, for himself and other privateers. His team first raced at La Sarthe in 1950, with a pair of modified Cadillacs. In 1951 he publicly announced that he would build a car aiming at an outright victory at Le Mans. So for the 1951 race, with support from Chrysler, he built three C-2R. Of these, one finished in 18th and the other two abandoned due to mechanical failures. He went back to the drawing board and his next car was the C4-R.

All in all Cunningham built 36 cars and the C4-R pioneered the concept of an American engine successfully powering a lightweight chassis.

The new C4-R was not only more powerful than the C2-R, it was also lighter. With a new Chrysler 5487 cm³ V8 hemi, the C4-R counted on 325 hp. The chassis was also shorter, therefor the car was faster and more nimble. However, the C2-R’s Achilles heel passed on to the new car: the drum breaks. The breaks just could not keep up with the weight and speed, so overall performance suffered.

At the 1954 24 Heures du Mans Cunningham had two C4-Rs in the race, and a lone Ferrari 375 MM. Car #2 finished in third place overall, and first in the S8.0 class, while car #1 came in fifth. The Ferrari wasn’t so lucky, when a faulty transmission took it out on lap 120.

C4-R
In general awesome detail, but poor exhaust pipes.

Though I already have a car he drove, I was after a car he built for a long while. Statistically speaking, Cunninghams were one of the most (if not THE most) successful American race cars. So for the general vintage race fan, it’s a must. And since the man sure left his mark at La Sarthe, I also had to have one of his machines. But in scale I don’t think this is one of the great models of my collection. The stripe on the hood is a (not-greatly-applied) decal, and the exhaust is not a hollow pipe. If I didn’t know better, I would say it’s an older mold from Bizarre. It just doesn’t shine like a Spark model. Still, in the end, a nice model nonetheless.

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