An American Ferrari

Ferrari, klemcoll, Le Mans

In early 1954 Briggs Cunningham took delivery of a new Ferrari 375MM spyder with Pininfarina bodywork. Cunningham entered his new Ferrari at the Sebring12 Hours race, driven by John Fitch and Phil Walters. Fitch was already a well-known American driver as was Walters who had raced midgets for several years under the pseudonym of Ted Tappett. They failed to finish and Cunningham then decided to enter the Ferrari for Le Mans, but first rebodied his car along the lines of his own Cunningham C4Rs two of which were also entered for Le Mans by the Cunningham team.

One Cunningham-added mechanical element was experimental water cooling for the Ferrari’s brakes with air fed to the brake fluid radiators by two large round air intakes placed above the headlights.The somewhat odd-looking result was again assigned to Fitch and Walters for the 24 Hours of Le Mans which took place on June 12-13, 1954 as seen above. The Ferrari ran close to the leaders for the first couple of hours and was then slowed as it lost power due to a broken cam follower arm, although its final retirement early on the Sunday morning was due to rear axle failure.

The Cunningham C4Rs ran much more reliably to finish third and fifth overall. A powerful Scuderia Ferrari 375 Plus was the winner with a close finish over a D-Type Jaguar.

The Cunninhgham Ferrari was soon sold to Cunningham friend and sometimes Cunningham driver Sherwood Johnson who saw excellent success with the car in American races during 1954 and 1955 before selling it to Temple Buell who had driver Dabney Collins race it some more. Today the Cunningham Ferrari, now rebodied again in its original Pininfarina style, remains in a significant collection in  the United States.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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One comment

  1. Frank Barrett · · Reply

    Temple Buell was a Denver shopping-center architect and developer as well as a very active race-team owner. Collins was also from Denver.


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