Sold at auction for ‘£19.6 million’
The classic Formula 1 Mercedes Benz that was driven by five time F1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio has become the most expensive car to be sold at public auction selling for an extraordinary £19.6 million. It was sold by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Chichester, West Sussex and the £19.6 million price tag includes the buyer's premium. The previous world record for the most expensive car sold at public auction was a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa which went for more than £10million in California in 2011.
The car was successful on many occasions and Fangio drove the 2.5 litre car to victories in the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prix races, the first successive triumphs achieved by the factory Mercedes-Benz team in its post-war comeback. The car has been described as a technological gem. It was built specifically to win a world title and it effectively won two inside eighteen months with a final scorecard showing twelve starts and nine wins.
The car is extremely rare, only fourteen Mercedes Benz W196R machines ever existed. Ten still exist; three are in museums and six inside Mercedes-Benz that leaves this recently auctioned Silver Arrow W196R chassis 006/54 which is now the only post-war Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow in private hands.
The car sold at Bonham's entered the Silver Arrows story in the German Grand Prix of 1954. It is a monoposto open wheeler version created for Fangio for the Nürburgring track. The car took pole position in its first race, and won the event in the time of three hours and forty five minutes 45.8 seconds. To this date, that's the longest F1 championship race other than the Indianapolis 500 mile events of the fifties.
Fangio shared the front row with the Ferrari 625 of Mike Hawthorn and the Maserati 250F of Sterling Moss but as the race unfolded, it was Fangio in the lead with team-mate Karl Kling bearing down upon him after a drive through the field where he sat the lap record of 9 minutes 55.1 seconds for the 22.810 km (14.173 mile) course.
Fangio began racing at an age most drivers are retired, yet he still holds the highest percentage of pole positions (29 of 52 / 55.8%), the highest percentage of front row starts (48 of 52 / 92.3%) and he was the oldest F1 World Champion in history at 46 years, 41 days in 1957. His five titles were won at 41, 43, 44, 45 and 46 years of age respectively. Fangio, who died in 1995 and won five world championships, is considered to be the first superstar F1 driver