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