Cunningham Sports Cars
1953 C-5R
Text by Kane Rogers

  A new approach and a new design: Phil Walters models the newly
minted C-5R in a 1953 publicity still.

The only C-5R ever built featured a narrow tube frame with outriggers
to mount the aluminum body, whose design was supposedly approved
by Bonneville craftsman Reid Railton.

While appearing to be a step back in terms of sophistication, the
straight-axle, torsion-bar front suspension saved 30 pounds
of unsprung weight and eliminated the tire scrub caused by
camber changes inherent in the previous independant layout.
The live rear axle also employed torsion bar suspension in
place of coil springs.

The C-5R’s higher speed capability presented the need for better
braking, resulting in the largest brakes (seventeen inch diameter)
ever fitted to a modern-era racer. They proved inadequate
however against the lighter, slower but disc-equipped Jaguars.
The C-5R was faster on the Mulsanne Straight by five mph,
but it could not outbrake the Jags. Even so, John Fitch and
Phil Walters eventually brought the car home in third place.

Shortly after the 1953 Le Mans, the team travelled to the champagne
district of Reims for a new twelve-hour sports endurance race
in support of the French GP. The event was a memorable one:
Alfred Momo introduced Briggs to Juan Manuel Fangio, whose
invitation to a friendly toast introduced Briggs to the joys
of champagne, and John Fitch survived a gigantic, end-over-end
wreck in the C-5R. The car was returned to the U.S. and rebuilt.
The team finished the ’53 season with still more wins in the
U.S. and fresh ambitions for yet another run at Le Mans.

Engine   Chassis
Cylinders   Chrysler V8   Brakes   Hydraulic Drum
Bore   3.81 inches   Brake Dia. Front   17″
Stroke   3.62 inches   Rear   17″
Capacity   331 C.I.   Suspension: Front   Solid Beam Axle
Valves   OH Pushrod   Rear   Live Axle
Comp. Ratio   7.5:1   Shock Absorbers   Torsion Bar
Max. HP   310@5200 RPM   Wheel Type   Cast magnesium
Carburation   4 Zenith DD
Ignition   Autolite Coil   Tire Size   7.00″x16″
Fuel Pump   Mechanical   Steering gear   Worm and Roller
Fuel Capacity   50 Imp. Gal.   Steering Wheel   17″ Spring Spoke
Oil Filter   Full Flow        
Oil Capacity   7 Imp. Quarts   Dimensions
Water Capacity   25 Imp. Quarts   Wheelbase   100″
Electrical System   6 Volt   Track: Front/Rear   55″/55″
Battery Capacity   130 Amp/Hrs   Overall length   164″
        Overall Width   64″
Transmission   Overall Height   40″ w/o screen
Clutch   Single Dry Plate   Ground Clearance   4″
Gearbox   5 Spd synchro   Dry Weight   2480 Lbs.
Final Drive   3.36:1        
        Source:   Road Racing Specials, 2003
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.