Fans of America’s underappreciated yet successful Cunningham privateer endurance racing teams will have a chance to own a piece of history when this wooden buck goes up for auction at Bonhams Greenwich Concours d’Elegance Auction on June 3. Looks to us like it has a few more uses left.
In 1952 and 1954, Hemi-powered Cunningham C-4Rs won their class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 1952 race had Briggs Cunningham himself driving to a fourth overall in a race including competitors from Talbot-Lago and an Allard piloted by future Corvette point man Zora Arkus-Duntov. Three Cunninghams made it into the top 10 in 1953, including a third-place finish by John Fitch and Phil Walters in a C-5R. In 1954, Briggs made it to the podium with not only the class win in his C-4R, but third place overall behind factory-backed teams from Ferrari and Jaguar.
To celebrate their racing success and make the beautiful racers available once again, a continuation series was conceived in the 1990s. John Fitch and Phil Walters helped sort the chassis out and Briggs Cunningham III had this wooden buck constructed to duplicate the beautiful aluminum bodywork of the C-4R. Only four cars were built before production ended in 1997, and this shaping tool remained in the Cunningham family until now.
Whether you’re a Mopar fan that would love nothing more than to build an early-Hemi-powered vintage racer to remind Ford fans that Hemi power also did big things at Le Mans, or a Morgan owner that simply appreciates good timber when you see it, you’ve got to admit that this is a fascinating piece of automotive artistry.
In 2004, one of the four continuation 1952 Cunningham C-4Rs sold at Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction for $176,000. Bonhams expects the buck to sell for between $5,000-15,000.