Tue Oct 15, 2019 London
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OPULENCE & SPLENDOUR

Luxury and the arts From houses to cars and from Hockney to van Dyck, a profile of the best and the worst

A motoring milestone

1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 racing car becomes the most valuable motor car ever sold at auction

 

Yesterday at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale, automotive history was made when a Formula 1 racing car was sold for £19,601,500 including premium.

 

1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R
1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R
Another view of this extraordinary car
Another view of this extraordinary car

The car, a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R single-seater, is best known as the vehicle that took the five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio to the second of his Formula 1 world titles but is now also famous as the most valuable motor car ever sold at auction after beating the previous of record of £10,086,400 set by a Ferrari in 2011.

 

Chassis 00006/54 was the car in which Fangio won both the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prix races and features of the 2.5 litre straight-8 car include a fuel injected engine, all-independent suspension and all-round inboard-mounted brakes.

 

Of this extraordinary sale, Doug Nye, a racing historian, commented:

 

“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 recognised 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!”

 

 

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