The Originals at Le Mans, 1963
I have planned from the beginning to finish these cars in the same style as the Cunningham team cars. These were bone white, with two blue center stripes. There were painted number circles on the nose, tail, and doors. Briggs Cunningham had used these colors since 1950, and they had been used on many different cars, from Cadilacs to the E2A prototype. In the mid-fifties, Cunningham was building his own cars, the C2R, C4R, and C5R, which were high powered sports cars. He raced these extensively, and with them, dominated sports car racing in the United States. These cars were taken to Le Mans in 1952, 1953 and 1954, the best finish being third in 1953. In the course of doing my research I was surprised to discover that the Cunningham Company had never gone out of business, and has begun manufacturing cars again.
I contacted the factory, and spoke to the director, Larry Black. He was very helpful, not only with the paint specification, but with helping me find a shop capable of finishing the body to the highest standard. The shop is Automotive Restoration in Stratford. The following photos were taken just after the car arrived in Stratford, CT.
The above photo shows the car in good company...a nice XK150 drophead in the foreground, and a very rare Facel Vega on the lift. Note the steel trolley supplied by Dunford to allow the car to be easily handled prior to the suspension being fit up. Count the louvers...there are 21 louvers on each side of a Lightweight bonnet. This allows for better cooling, and also prevents lifting at high speeds. Note the bug deflector. There tend to be many flying insects on the Le Mans track in June...the plexiglas deflectors were used, despite the poor aerodynamics, to prevent the windscreens from being covered in flys. Fine rivet work is evident in the interior...you can see the big ZF tunnel.
Note the fine work on the fresh air vent. Not only is the aluminum fitting the precise pattern of the originals, the tubing is also an exact copy. The mating fitting is visible on the bulkhead. You can also see the rivet work around the bonnet louver. The dry sump tank is an exact copy of the original.
In keeping with contemporary tradition, the guages in the photo are the actual ones which will be used. They represent a combination of contemporary and modern guages which are typical of what might have been used on the original cars. The Amp meter is a standard Series I E-Type meter. The Fuel guage is a modern Smith's instrument designed to work with the fuel cell. The Water guage is a Smith's mechanical guage as used on the original cars. Note to Boudoin tube, the mechanical "sending" unit which drives the guage. The oil guage is typical of guages used on various British cars of the period. It is a double guage: the top is a mechanical pressure guage, calibrated to 160lbs. The bottom is a mechanical oil temperature guage, calibrated to 120 degrees.The speedometer reads to 180MPH, just the thing for the Mulsanne, and the tach is designed so that the 6800RPM redline is due north.
April, 2001, the body has finally been loaded with all the mechanical components, body panels fit, and it's on it's way to paint:
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Photos are Copyright © their original holders. "Jaguar" is the property of Jaguar Cars, Ltd, Coventry, England
"C2R", "C4R", "C5R" and "Cunningham" are Copyright © The Cunningham Company