The Cunningham team was a pre-race favorite to win at Le Mans in 1953 although the Jaguar C-Types with their new Dunlop disc brakes proved otherwise by the finish. Joining the Cunningham C-4RK and a C-4R was the new C-5R. Cunningham had calculated the speed increase that would be required to win in 1953 and built his most powerful car to date with enormous 17-inch drum brakes, the largest ever fitted to a race car. Nicknamed 'The Smiling Shark', the C-5R driven by John Fitch and Phil Walters recorded 154.81 mph on the Mulsanne straight and averaged 104.14 mph over the 24 hours, 8 mph faster than 1952's winning speed but sadly 1 mph slower than the winning Jaguar C-Type. The C-5R finished 3rd just 4 laps behind the winner and the C-4R and C-4RK both finished in the top ten. Later John Fitch drove the car in the Reims 12 Hour race, surviving a huge crash. Back in the US, Phil Walters drove it twice more before its last race at Riverside. This unique Cunningham remained untouched for many years at the Cunningham Museum before the whole collection was acquired by Miles Collier in 1986.