Cunningham Sports Cars
1953 C-3
Text by Kane Rogers

  1953 C-3 from the Cunningham collection, photographed in front of
the Collier Museum.

The first Cunningham to bear the C-3 designation was built in
1951 on a C-1 chassis at a cost of $15,000, proving it unfeasible
in an American market that, even in the upper income ranges,
was not prepared to go to five figures. In addition, the car
did not approach the deluxe level of finish Briggs had in
mind for a Cunningham road car, as it was essentially a competition
roadster with a hardtop.

Briggs then contracted with Carrozzeria Vignale of Turin, who would
build bodies on the C-2 chassis. Rolling chassis were shipped
to Turin from West Palm Beach and fitted with either coupe
or roadster bodies, then returned to Florida for final finishing
and delivery.

The car’s dimensions were such that it was smaller than the vast
majority of American cars yet larger than the Ferraris and
Maseratis it most resembled, while the styling was typical
of Giovani Michelotti’s designs, restrained and well-proportioned,
with minimal use of brightwork. The interior, described by
a contemporary writer as "oozing luxury", was functional
and beautifully finished. Performance was beyond practically
any other American car of the time.

While it is not known exactly how many C-3s were built, Cunningham
himself estimated the figure at perhaps thirty. The low production
figures prompted the IRS to withdraw Cunningham’s status as
a manufacturer, a move that eventually caused the demise of
the company’s racing operations.


Engine Chassis
Cylinders Chrysler V8 Brakes Hydraulic Drum
Bore 3.81 inches Brake Dia. Front 12"
Stroke 3.62 inches Rear 12"
Capacity 331 C.I. Suspension: Front Wishbone/Coil
Valves OH Pushrod Rear Coil Spring
Comp. Ratio 7.5:1 Shock Absorbers Dual Hydraulic
Max. HP 310@5200 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 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 107"
Electrical System 6 Volt Track: Front/Rear 58"/58"
Battery Capacity 130 Amp/Hrs Overall length 168"
      Overall Width 70"
Transmission Overall Height 53"
Clutch Single Dry Plate Ground Clearance 6"
Gearbox   3 Spd synchro Dry Weight 3500 Lbs.
Final Drive   3.54:1
    Optional: Chrysler Torqueflite Automatic Source: Auto Age,
May 1954

C-1 C-2R C-3 C-4R/C-4RK C-5R C-6R


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Credit to Kane Rogers for his important contributions to this website's creation.