Fangio Mercedes sells for $29 million at Goodwood sale
The 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 in which five-time Formula 1 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio won two grands prix on his way to his second World Drivers’ Championship smashed the previous record for a car sold at auction when it went under the hammer at Bonhams auction close by the Goodwood Festival of Speed on Friday.
It surpassed the price paid for the 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa prototype which sold for $14.9 million at an auction at the Pebble Beach show in 2011. When the buyers’ premium was added to that price, the final bill was $16.39 million.
The hammer came down on the 1954 Mercedes W196R race car at £17.5 million and when buyers fees were added the total bill would be £19,601,500 – that’s about $29.6m. The winning bid came via telephone from a private buyer in the United States. The person’s identity is not yet known.
Robert Brooks, Bonhams Chairman, said: “It was a personal privilege to preside over the sale of the Mercedes-Benz W196, 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.
“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!”
Bonhams also set a new world record highest price for a Maserati at auction, when a 1955 300S Sports-Racing Spider sold for £4,033,500. The previous record was £2,251,520 set in 2012.
The result means Bonhams now holds the world records for the following marques at auction: Aston Martin (£3,200,000), Austin-Healey (£843,000), Bentley (£5,000,000), Maserati (£4,033,500), Mercedes-Benz (£19,601,500) and Rolls-Royce (£4,700,000).
The sale took place before a packed audience of more than 1,000 people in the marquee, with bidders from 32 countries around the world taking part.