Fangio’s Mercedes becomes most valuable car ever sold by auction (£19,601,500, US$29,650,095, €22,701,864) at Bonhams Goodwood Sale
Automotive history was made at this year Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale, when the car that took five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio to the second of his Formula 1 world titles achieved a record-breaking figure of £19,601,500 (US$29,650,095, €22,701,864).
The car becomes the most valuable motor vehicle ever sold at auction, beating the previous record of £10,086,400 set by a Ferrari in 2011.
“I have handled some of the world’s most desirable and important motor cars during a motoring auction career spanning five decades, but I have reached a peak today with this legendary Grand Prix car. It was a personal privilege to preside over the sale of this vehicle, which is not only one of the most significant motor cars of the 20th century, but also the most important historic Grand Prix racing car ever offered for sale,” said Robert Brooks, Bonhams Chairman.
“If he were here today Fangio would shake his head and smile his slow smile. He was a humble man, originally a mechanic from a potato town in Argentina – and he never forgot his roots. As a driver, he was simply a genius. As a man he had no enemies. He was universally loved, even by those he regularly beat on track. No standard-setting sportsman could have a better epitaph.
“Mercedes has long been recognized for the world-class quality of its products and in 1954/55 they set out to rebuild their reputation for automotive excellence post-war. With this W196 and its sports car sisters they did just that… and how!” commented Doug Nye, racing historian.
The 2½-liter straight-8 W196 – chassis number ‘00006/54’ – was the car in which Fangio won both the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prix races. These great victories were the first two to be achieved in succession by the frontier-technology Mercedes-Benz factory Formula 1 team in its post-war racing comeback. Chassis ‘00006’ also has special significance as the first open-wheeled ‘slipper’-bodied post-war Mercedes-Benz to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix race.
The car’s innovative design also marked the successful introduction to Formula 1 of the following technologies:
• Fuel-injected engine
• Mercedes-Benz all-independent suspension
• Multi-tubular ‘spaceframe’ lightweight chassis design
• All-round inboard-mounted brakes
• The in-line or ‘straight-8’ engine ‘lay-down’ configuration to minimize the car’s overall height
• Power take-off from the center of the engine’s long 8-cylinder crankshaft to minimize vibration.
The top 10 lots of the Bonhams auction were:
1. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 – £19,601,500 ($29,650,095)
2. 1955 Maserati 300S – £4,033,500 ($6,101,250)
3. 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Le Mans Tourer – £1,905,500 ($2,882,343)
4. 1965 Ferrari 500 Superfast Coupe – £852,700 ($1,289,831)
5. 1928 Mercedes-Benz Model 630K Tourer – £807,900 ($1,222,065)
6. 1953 Austin-Healey 100 Special Test Car – £785,500 ($1,188,182)
7. 1913 Rolls-Royce 45/50hp Silver Ghost London-to-Edinburgh Tourer – £718,300 ($1,086,532)
8. 1936 Lagonda LG45 Rapide ‘Mathilda’ – £617,500 ($934,057)
9. 1952 Bentley R-Type Continental 4.9-Litre Sports Saloon – £539,100 ($815,466)
10. 1964 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible – £533,500 ($806,995).