Iconic 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 single-seater, that took five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954 to the top podium spot in German Grand Prix and Swiss Grand Prix achieved a record-breaking figure of £19,601,500 (US$29,650,095) at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed, making it the most valuable car ever sold by auction.
It’s also the most valuable Formula 1 racing car and most valuable Mercedes-Benz ever sold.
The previous record of £10,086,400 was set by a Ferrari in 2011.
Robert Brooks, Bonhams Chairman, said: “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.”
Doug Nye, racing historian, said: “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.
The 2.5-litre straight-8 W196 – chassis number ‘00006/54’ was also 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:
-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 minimise the car’s overall height
-Power take-off from the centre of the engine’s long 8-cylinder crankshaft to minimise vibration