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DESCRIPTION1952 Cunningham C-3 West Palm Beach Competition Coupe s/n 5206x White with Blue Stripes and Two-Tone Gray and Red Interior Briggs Cunningham is one of those legendary American figures in sports car racing that had genuine clout on both sides of the Atlantic. A sportsman for most of his life (he won America's Cup in 1958), Cunningham began automobile racing in the 1940's, and was instrumental in Cadillac's famed Le Mans entry in 1950. The 10th and 11th place finish of the Cadillacs ensured that when Cunningham returned in 1951 with his own cars bearing his name, the entries were accepted. The 1951 Cunningham C2-Rs featured Hemi Chrysler V8 engines and were heavy but surprisingly competitive. Later Cunningham racers were lighter and more powerful, and finished well at Le Mans in subsequent years behind the unbeatable disc brake-equipped Jaguar D-Types. In the United States, the cars were practically unbeatable. All of the racers were built in Cunningham's West Palm Beach, Florida factory, and Cunningham was very insistent that his cars race with an all American team using all American parts, right down to the tires. As part of the homologation requirement for international sports car racing, at least 25 roadgoing versions of the car had to be constructed, which Cunningham called the C-3. The first two C-3s were built entirely by Cunningham at their West Palm Beach works, one open car and one closed car. All subsequent road cars were a completely different design and were produced by Vignale in Italy. The chassis of the two American-built C-3s was virtually identical to the competition cars, and the coupe is unique for its integration of a roll bar into the chassis. Ultimately, it came to be that other than these two works-built C-3s, only competition cars would be built entirely by the Cunningham works in the United States. Thus, this particular car is a genuine one-off: not only the sole roadgoing Cunningham C-3 Coupe built by Cunningham in the US, but also one of two non-competition Cunninghams with American bodies. In addition to being extremely significant, this car enjoys known and distinguished history from new. Its original owner was Briggs Cunningham's friend Karl Kiekhaefer, owner of Mercury Marine. The car was originally finished in Brewster green with pleated leather bench seat and sat on cast alloy wheels. Kiekhaefer did not keep the car long and traded the car for the first Vignale bodied C-3, which was also numbered 5206, presumably for tax reasons. In later years, this created some confusion, although Cunningham historians agree that this is irrefutably the sixth Cunningham sports car constructed and that the X was added to this car's serial number to differentiate the two cars.
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