Cunningham C-4RK

The 200 MPH Steamroller

Stance & Speed Monograph Series, No. 1

by Peter Bodensteiner and Peter Harholdt

The insights into America’s first serious attempt to win Le Mans by Peter Brock, the man who a decade later would be an integral part of the second and successful attempt, is a fine beginning to a book about an historically important car. The Cunningham C-4RK is a brutish looking, yet overall sleek racing coupe. Because Cunningham dared to innovate, it possesses aerodynamic touches destined to become standards of future racing cars. The car was designed for Le Mans with input from automotive aerodynamicist, Dr. Wunibald Kamm.

The Stance and Speed Monograph Series, has introduced the first in a series of books about important race cars. The series is a joint venture of Stance and Speed and photographer Peter Harholdt’s Collection Arts, Inc.

Peter Brock lays out the early years of American sportsman Briggs Cunningham’s Quest to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Beginning in 1951, with a Cadillac powered coupe and a radical, Grumman-designed aero-bodied roadster, the team finished a respectable 10th and 11th. The Cunningham cars evolved through two other iterations to this, the Chrysler Hemi-powered, C-4RK.

Author Peter Bodensteiner puts you in the Cunningham shop in West Palm Beach in the early 50s, with Cunningham’s design team, creating the one and only C-4RK coupe. The other two cars were roadsters. He takes the reader to Le Mans where it campaigned against the best cars and teams of the time. I don’t want to give away any more. Suffice it to say that there is much to learn from this little tome.

Photographer Peter Harholdt captures the beauty of the C-4RK in a studio setting with an attention to detail that serves the reader well. From the angles at which the car was photographed, to the choice of lighting on the body, it all works. Interlaced throughout the story and equally revealing are important images from 1952 of work being performed on the car in Cunningham’s shop and racing at Elkhart Lake in 1952. The blend of old and new images shows Stance and Speed’s respect for the history of the car and the reader. A very pleasing package and all very well done.

Fittingly, the C-4RK is today in the Collier Collection, where it deserves to be, as part of one of the finest automobile collections extant.

This book, no, this series, should be in every enthusiast’s library.

By Steve Szydlowski, Photographer