Cunningham C-3 Cabriolet

1953 Cunningham C-3 Cabriolet by Vignale

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 5, 2022

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

There aren’t too many Vignale-bodied American cars, but the Cunningham C-3 is one. But there aren’t too many Cunningham C-3s, either. Only about 24 C-3s were built, all Vignale-bodied. Apparently another dozen or so chassis were built, and some of those were completed individually later on with bodywork limited only by their builders’ imaginations.

Power is from a 5.4-liter Chrysler Hemi V8 that made 220 horsepower when new. C-3 coupes are more common, and just five cabriolets were built. It’s definitely Vignale styling, and it’s another example of American muscle with a sleek Italian body – a common theme of performance cars of the 1950s and 60s.

This was a New York car when new and was shown at Pebble Beach as early as 1956, appearing there most recently in 2015. It was even owned by Briggs Cunningham’s daughter at one point. The pre-sale estimate is $900,000-$1,200,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $1,215,000.

Cunningham C-3

1952 Cunningham C-3

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 10, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

We’ve actually featured another one of Briggs Cunningham’s C-3 cars, but that one was a coupe. This car, although a 1952 Cunningham, wasn’t bodied for the first time until about 2012. In order for Cunningham to race the C-3, he had to build copies for the road. Those 25 cars were Vignale-bodied. There were 14 other chassis built.

The chassis and engine – a 5.4-liter Chrysler Hemi V-8 making 235 horsepower – were sold as a bare chassis/engine combo to someone in Indiana. The car later made its way to Wisconsin where it was driven (on a farm), sans-body.

While the body was applied during the restoration that ended in 2012, the rest of the car is largely original – the brakes, suspension, even the paint on the chassis. The body resembles the C-2R race car and really doesn’t look like other C-3s. So here is your chance to get one of America’s best sports cars from the 1950s as, essentially, a brand new car. It should cost between $275,000-$325,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $275,000.

Cunningham C-3

1952 Cunningham C-3 Coupe by Vignale

Offered by Gooding & Company | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 17, 2014

1952 Cunningham C-3 Coupe

If there was some sort of “All Time Car Guys” All-Star team, Briggs Cunningham would be on the starting roster. He was lucky – he was born rich (in 1907) and found his calling as a sportsman and car guy (and collector – he once owned a Bugatti Royale). His friends founded what would become the SCCA and that’s where Cunningham got his start in the 1930s.

By 1950 he was competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans where he finished in the top 10 in a Cadillac Coupe DeVille (no, seriously). Later that year he ran an Aston Martin at Sebring. He also owned the cars he raced, and fielded cars for other drivers too.

In 1952 he started building cars of his own design in the Cunningham factory in West Palm Beach, Florida (not exactly the industrial heart of America). The C-3, as it was called, used a 5.4-liter Chrysler Hemi V-8 making 220 horsepower. He shipped the engine and chassis combo to Vignale in Italy to have the bodies installed. This particular chassis (#5210) was the factory demonstrator.

This car was restored in 2004 and is one of 19 C-3 Coupes built and one of a total of only 24 Cunningham C-3s built in total. Briggs Cunningham continued funding his racing team into the 1960s but stopped building cars in the mid-1950s. The C-3 was the only road car the company ever made. This one should sell for between $450,000-$550,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding in Arizona.

Update: Sold $550,000.