By Richard Harman.
Book background by Richard Harman: Cunningham was a name which
cropped-up in my earliest memories of Le Mans and as my interest in motor
racing developed, I found the longer distance events for Sports Cars far more
enticing that the increasingly shorter Grand Prix races. The Cunningham was
just a car and I knew nothing about the man behind their existence until my
knowledge expanded through an increasingly extensive library of motor racing
books and magazines, of which I could never get enough.
With the advent of a functioning International Sporting
organisation, World Championship events for Sports Cars and later Grand Prix
races gradually included the USA, Briggs Cunningham, among others, was eager
take on the challenge of the European giants and grasped the opportunity of
establishing America as a legitimate competitor. When the very first event of
the newly established World Championship for Sports Cars, in 1953, was won by a
Cunningham car, America began to be taken seriously on the World motor racing
scene, while the European press begrudgingly included coverage. However,
Sebring 1953 was neither a fairy story with a happy-ever-after ending, nor the
first time Cunningham had matched himself and his cars against the best that
Europe had to offer.
During his lifetime, he had owned and raced a multitude of
cars; some of which he kept. In his retirement, he assembled them all together
in a collection near his home in California. He spent his time there, with the
cars and his extensive library of literature and memorabilia, welcoming
visitors and organised groups of enthusiasts. Events were held there, where man
of the cars were demonstrated in the huge parking lot of the museum, much to
the pleasure of those fortunate enough to have been there.
This work has taken over seven years to complete, with the
assistance of numerous people who were there at the time, together with past
and current owners of the multitude of cars connected with Cunningham, all of
whom have been most forthcoming with information, photographs and
recollections. Unprecedented access to the Cunningham family archives, provided
by Briggs’ children, in addition to their invaluable support, has enabled this
well-overdue recounting of the full Cunningham story, for the first time.
A full black New Zealand goatskin leather two-volume edition
with raised spine bands in a hand made cloth slipcase, richly embossed with
Cunningham logo is available from Dalton Watson. The slipcase and two volumes
will be further presented in a custom-made protective Solander box.
The leather edition has special hand-made and individually
marbelised endpapers and is numbered to coincide with the 50 chassis numbers of
the Cunningham-produced cars. A further 10 books will be produced that will be
associated with a significant Cunningham-owned or raced car.
Some further details on the production are as follows. The
goatskin is picked from hides arriving from New Zealand and only the best 20%
is used for book binding. The hides are tanned in France before being shipped
to the binder's agents. The Solander box was first created by Dr. Solander who
traveled with Captain Cook recording the flora and fauna on his voyage and
used the box for samples and drawings. The hand-made marble end papers are
made by Jemma Lewis in her workshop in Chippenham, Wiltshire. She is using
skills and techniques developed in England in Victorian times giving her papers
a distinctly English flavour. The binding is by Ludlow Bookbinders in
Shropshire, England. The first of these copies was made by Brian Settle who
started binding books in England 56 years ago. He was one of the last true
master bookbinders. His skills have now been passed to another generation at
- Winner of the 2014 Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot Award.
- Shortlisted for the Motoring Book of the Year for the 2014 Royal Automobile Club Awards. Click here to read the full press release.
- Shortlisted for the Publication of the Year for the 2013 International Historic Motoring Awards.
- 844 pages
- 303mm x 220mm
- Two volumes
- 1500 B&W and color images
- Leather bound ($1200) and Regular Edition ($350)
Click here to view sample pages