Cunningham Model Collection
July/Aug 2019 edition
Issue #6 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
Interview with Lawrence Berman by Marshall Buck, Photography by Mark Karlsberg, Studio Eleven, Inc.
AR: Tell us a little about yourself, and your interest in cars & collecting.
Lawrence Berman: I have been interested in sports cars – Jaguars – since high school when I got to drive an XK120 Cabriolet. I attended my 1st U.S. Grand Prix race in 1964 at Watkins Glen & met historian, Bill Green. We are still friends and he has been a great mentor. From 1978–1998 I had owned & vintage raced two Jaguar XK120 roadsters, a 1950 and a 1951. Also, showed the 1951 in many concours events with its best being 3rd in Class nationally in 1993 JCNA concours competition. In addition to the model car collection, my hobby is the website BriggsCunningham.com which has been a great learning experience.
AR: Why Cunningham?
Lawrence Berman: While doing racing history research for John Fitch, I noticed that he drove many races for Briggs Cunningham. I then started researching Mr. “C” and became fascinated with his history and accomplishments. In the beginning, my friend the motorsport writer Carl Goodwin, suggested that as a maximum I might find 200 race entries. The final count was over 800 individual entries!
AR: This is quite an impressive collection you have put together. When did you start with this?
Lawrence Berman: Around 2004 - 2005, and it has just kept on growing.
AR: Your collection appears to include everything Cunningham ever campaigned including his own marque. What other marques are included?
Lawrence Berman: Many different marques… Porsche, Cadillac, Cooper, Lotus, Ferrari, OSCA, Jaguar, Corvette, Maserati, and many more. I have attempted to collect a model of each of his race cars. Currently, I am waiting for a Stanguellini Formula Junior model from Italy to be painted French Blue and numbered 63.
AR: Why Models, and where do you find all of them?
Lawrence Berman: I like models, and they take less space, take almost no maintenance (occasional dusting) and cost much less to deal with than real cars! I find & buy from sources worldwide; eBay, many model car sales websites, concours show vendors, vintage car events vendors, referrals, etc.
AR: How many pieces do you currently have, and in what scales? And, how long is the list of models still needed to complete this collection?
Lawrence Berman: Built models 155; and 24 kits yet to be built. Most pieces are in 1:43 scale, but others include: 1:34; 1:32; 1:24; 1:25; and 1:18. I need approximately 12 more models.
AR: Were most of these readily available, or did you have to have many custom built and or modified? And… how many years has it taken to get to this point?
Lawrence Berman: Several were custom built, but very many were modified…repainted & race numbers changed. It’s taken approximately 15 years.
AR: What are some of the rare, and very special pieces?
Lawrence Berman: Many are rare and special, but here are several… 1951 Chrysler Saratoga #39 – Carrera Panamericana race 1:43 scale made from a photo. 1954 Twin Fageol Super Freighter – Cunningham 1:43 scale with box & postage from St. Petersburg (Russia) Tram Collection. 1:24 scale 1960 Corvette made by Jan Hyde. Dodge Route Van by Matchbox - used as a New York Times promotional piece; customized & repainted to resemble the Cunningham machine shop truck. A set of eight(8) 1:43 scale hand carved wooden models by R.D. Manou (France); bought from Bill Emerson who was the author of “The Healey Book.” C4R bronze in 1:24 scale mounted on a mahagony bookend with a numbered (#38 of 50) book – “The Life & Cars of Briggs S. Cunningham” – signed by: Briggs Cunningham, Dean Batchelor, John Lamm, John Fitch, Phil Walters and Sherwood Johnston.
AR: What else is in your collection besides models, and where do you display it all?
Lawrence Berman: Framed race posters, framed & signed photos, automotive memorabilia, and a large motorsport book library. The collection is privately held, displayed in my home office / library.
AR: Has the Cunningham family been involved or helped with anything?
Lawrence Berman: They have encouraged me & allowed me to register the Cunningham Team Checkered Flag Logo trademark in 2012.
AR: The Revs Institute has a significant collection of Cunningham cars and past ties to Briggs. Have they been involved in any way?
Lawrence Berman: Yes, REVS has been a huge help with mutual Cunningham research projects; i.e. C2R #5104 history; the history of ownership of Vignale C-3 (25) cars.
AR: What was the best experience you have had with putting this collection together?
Lawrence Berman: The best is the search & locating of the models along with the help & artistic talent of model builder – Dennis Koleber who has done most of the painting, striping, decals, etc.
AR: What has been the most difficult experience you have had with putting this collection together?
Lawrence Berman: Getting a model builder to create a Bu-Merc model from a 1929 Mercedes SSK model. I am still looking, if you know someone who could do it and has the time available.
To read more great interviews like this one...
Lawrence Berman Interview
For approximately 15 years, Lawrence has been involved with researching Cunningham: collecting material from international sources as well as creating the website BriggsCuninghma.com and consulted, and aided in research on numerous books with regard to Cunningham.