TALES of 40 YEARS #9 – BRIGGS CUNNINGHAM GETS THE FIRST BOC #3

John Gunnell |

After leaving Ken Buttolph in San Francisco (see blog #8), I continued to the Christie’s auction in LA. I was a few days early, so Christine Eisenberg of Christie’s sent me to Costa Mesa to see the Briggs Cunninghan Museum. I was driving around in an industrial park looking for the museum when I heard to sound of a Bugatti engine. I followed the noise until I saw a little blue car whizzing around the parking lot. It was John Burgess — the artist/engineer who took care of the Cunningham collection. John started me off on a tour of the museum, but at noon he stopped. “Every day, no matter what, I go home to have lunch with my wife,” he said. “So I’ll leave you here to wander around by yourself and I’ll be back in an hour.” I sat in the office and a few minutes later a short man with white curly hair came in with a copy of OLD CARS WEEKLY. He started running off duplicates of one page on a copy machine. I asked him why he was doing this. “Oh, I didn’t see you there,” he said. “I’m Briggs Cunningham.” Then he explained that Tex Smith had run a full page drawing of an imaginary car made up of parts from different cars in the weekly. “I’m going to have a contest for the men in my restoration shop and the winner will be the one that guesses the most parts,” said Briggs. I told him that I worked for Tex and that I would donate the prize for his contest — the first copy of THE BEST OF OLD CARS No. 3, which I had just finished editing before i left for California. When I got home, I drove up to the printer in Stevens Point, Wis., and pulled out the first copy that they printed and sent it to Briggs Cunningham.

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