Cunningham Sports Cars

1951 C-2R

Text by Pete Lyons

Victory at the Glen, 1951: Phil Walters and John Fitch took first and
second respectively, while Briggs Cunningham (above) finished
4th. Note brake cooling scoops and hood bulge, both new on the C-2R.

By the time work began on the C-2R, the supply of engines and
the expected help from Cadillac had evaporated, so Briggs
Cunningham called on an old Yale classmate, Bob Keller (the
son of K.T. Keller, who had succeeded Walter P. Chrysler as
president of the company), and suddenly Chrysler engines were
made available to Cunningham at a 40-percent discount.

Chassis details of the C-1 and C-2R were identical, with Cadillac
drum brakes, Chrysler Oriflow shock absorbers backed up by
Houdaille lever-action units, and Chrysler worm-and-sector
steering, modified to provide 2.75 turns lock-to-lock.

As delivered, the Chrysler engines produced 180 HP, but compression
was raised from 7.5 to 8.6:1 (using Cadillac rods and pistons!)
and a log-type manifold carrying four downdraft Zenith carbs
was installed, resulting in 220 HP. Additional testing and
development of cam timing, plus intake and exhaust porting,
raised power to 270 HP by the time the cars ran at Watkins
Glen and Elkhart Lake in 1951.

These early Cunninghams were fast, a C-2R reportedly being clocked
at 152 mph during the Le Mans race, but they were far too
heavy and put an exhorbitant load on tires, brakes and clutches
- a problem the Cunningham crew could not solve with the state
of the art at the time.

Engine Chassis
Cylinders V8 Brakes Hydraulic Drum
Bore 3.81 inches Brake Dia. Front 12.75″
Stroke 3.62 inches Rear 12.75″
Capacity 331 C.I. Suspension: Front Wishbone/coil
Valves OH Pushrod Rear De Dion
Comp. Ratio 8.6:1 Shock Absorbers Dual Hydraulic
Max. HP 270@5500 RPM Wheel Type Center-lock wire,
Carburation 4 Zenith DD

optional disc
Ignition Autolite Coil Tire Size 7.00″/7.50″x16″
Fuel Pump Mechanical/Elec. Steering gear Worm and Roller
Fuel Capacity 18 Imp. Gal. Steering Wheel 17″ Spring Spoke
Oil Filter Full Flow
Oil Capacity 5 Imp. Quarts Dimensions
Water Capacity 25 Imp. Quarts Wheelbase 105″
Electrical System 6 Volt Track: Front/Rear 58″/58″
Battery Capacity 130 Amp/Hrs Overall length 194″
Overall Width 70″
Transmission Overall Height 40″ excl. wscreen
Clutch Single Dry Plate Ground Clearance 7″
Gearbox 3 Spd synchro Dry Weight 3400 Lbs.
Final Drive 3.54:1
Source: Motor Trend ,
January 1951
C-1 C-2R C-3 C-4R/C-4RK C-5R C-6R


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