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Cunningham History

1953 Cunningham C3

Chassis number : 5223

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Sold for $1,100,000 at 2017 RM Sothebys : Monterey.
Briggs Cunningham was the son of a wealthy financier and heir to the Swift meatpacking fortune. He was an individual that as constantly striving to best his competition, which began with yacht racing at Yale in the 1920s, which eventually led to international family by captaining the Columbia to victory in the 1958 America's Cup. In the 1930s, the engaged in international racing with his college friends Miles and Samuel Collier, who founded the Automobile Racing Club of America (later renamed the Sports Car Club of America, SCCA, in 1944).

In 1950, Briggs entered two Cadillac Coupe DeVilles in the 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans. One was basically stock and the other was heavily modified; one finished 10th and the other 11th. This loss helped fuel Briggs' desire for victory, which culminated with his C-3 Cunningham automobile. At the time, homologation rules of Le Mans specified that competitors could race production vehicles, with at least 25 produced, to be eligible to race. Briggs solution was to build his own brand of car, thus the Cunningham C-3 was born.

The Cunningham C-3 was paired with a Chrysler Hemi V-8 engine. It had a race car chassis and Italian bodywork designed by Vignale of Turin, Italy. Pricing ranged from $8,000 and 12,000 new, a significant figure at the time. By 1954, Briggs Cunningham was featured on the cover of Time magazine with three of his Cunningham racing cars.

This Cunningham C-3 was Briggs Cunningham's personal C-3 Coupe and the one he never sold. It was built with a heater, radio, 20-gallon fuel tank, Bendix Hydrovac power booster, and a Chrysler PowerFlite gearbox. It was built as a demonstrator model and was retained by the Cunningham family for over six decades. Most of the 25 Vignale-bodied cars produced wore two-tone color combinations. However, Briggs had 5223 painted black and fitted with a beautiful red leather interior.

In 2003, Briggs passed away and left the car to his daughter, Lucie. Lucie passed in 2014 and the estate sold the car to its current owner. It has been in the Briggs' nuclear family for 61 years.

This Cunningham is the only C-3 with power windows and the only one with an automatic transmission. Another unique feature are the Lady Bug on the tire valves. It has 10,097 miles from new and wears a body by Vignale. It is also one of just 25 C-3 models built.

It was shown at the Cunningham Gathering at the 2011 Cavallino Classic in Palm Beach, Florida, and later the 2013 Cunningham Gathering at the Lime Rock Park 31st Historic Festival in Connecticut.

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2017 RM Sothebys : Monterey

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $750,000-USD $950,000 
Sale Price :
USD $1,100,000

1953 Cunningham C3 Auction Sales

Recent Sales of the Cunningham C3

(Data based on Model Year 1953 sales)
1953 Cunningham C-3 Cabriolet by Vignale
Chassis#: 5441
Sold for USD$1,215,000
  2022 RM Sothebys : Amelia Island
1953 Cunningham C3 image  1953 Cunningham C3 image  
1953 Cunningham C-3 Coupe by Vignale
Chassis#: 5223
Sold for USD$1,100,000
  2017 RM Sothebys : Monterey
1953 Cunningham C3 image  1953 Cunningham C3 image  
1953 Cunningham C3 Coupe by Vignale
Chassis#: 5206
Sold for USD$869,000
  2015 RM Sotheby's : The Andrews Collection
1953 Cunningham C3 image  1953 Cunningham C3 image  
1953 Cunningham C-3 Continental Coupe
Chassis#: 5211
Sold for USD$341,000
  2012 Gooding and Company - Pebble Beach Auction
1953 Cunningham C3 image  1953 Cunningham C3 image  
1953 Cunningham C-3 Continental Coupe
Chassis#: 5226
Sold for USD$539,000
  2011 Gooding and Company - Pebble Beach Auctions
1953 Cunningham C3 image  1953 Cunningham C3 image  
1953 Cunningham C3
Sold for USD$255,000
  2009 Automobiles of Amelia Island
1953 Cunningham C3 image  1953 Cunningham C3 image  
1953 Cunningham C3 Competition Continental Coupe
Sold for USD$374,000
  2006 Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction
1953 Cunningham C3 image  1953 Cunningham C3 image  

Cunningham C3s That Failed To Sell At Auction

1953 Cunningham C3's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High

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1953 Cunningham C3 Profiles

1953 Cunningham C3 vehicle information
Coupe
Coachwork: Michelotti
Designer: Alfredo Vignale
1953 Cunningham C3 vehicle information
Coupe
Coachwork: Michelotti
Designer: Alfredo Vignale
Chassis #: 5211
1953 Cunningham C3 vehicle information
Coupe
Coachwork: Michelotti
Designer: Alfredo Vignale
Chassis #: 5206
1953 Cunningham C3 vehicle information
Cabriolet
Coachwork: Vignale
Chassis #: C52843235
1953 Cunningham C3 vehicle information
Cabriolet
Coachwork: Vignale
1953 Cunningham C3 vehicle information
Cabriolet
Coachwork: Vignale
Chassis #: 5441
Engine #: C52-8-43235
1953 Cunningham C3 vehicle information
Continental Coupe
Coachwork: Vignale
Chassis #: 5226
1953 Cunningham C3 vehicle information
Coupe
Coachwork: Michelotti
Designer: Alfredo Vignale
Chassis #: 5223
1953 Cunningham C3 vehicle information
Coupe
Coachwork: Michelotti
Designer: Alfredo Vignale
1953 Cunningham C3 vehicle information
Coupe
Coachwork: Michelotti
Designer: Alfredo Vignale
Chassis #: 5230