July 16, 2013
Record Setting $30 Million For A Mercedes
An auction was held by the Bonhams Auction Company in England, where a 1954 Mercedes-Benz racecar was sold. The purchaser, who has not yet been named, took the bidding up to a record setting $30 million. Previously, the record for a vehicle sold by auction was a 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype that sold for $16.4 million in California in 2011.
The Mercedes-Benz that sold for astounding amount was a W196R Formula 1 racecar in 1954. The engine is a 2.5-liter eight-cylinder, and the car itself was part of a group that won nine out of twelve World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix races in the years 1954 and 1955.
This specific Mercedes racecar won two of those races, and was driven by the Legendary Argentinean-born, Juan Manuel Fangio. Also, it is the only one of the W196 racecars currently not in a museum or owned by Mercedes-Benz. Fangio won 45 percent of all the races he entered and started on the pole in almost 60 percent of them. He won championships with four different teams; one of them was at the age of 46 in 1957, which is currently the record for the oldest formula one champion.
Racing historian Doug Nye, told Bonhams, “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 never forgot his roots. As a driver, he was simply a genius.”
It is believed the reason for the high price of the sale is that the car is mostly original and in unrestored condition. Only a few hoses had been replaced. The W196 still had the scrapes and scratches from on track mishaps imbedded into the body. To collectors now-a-days, classic automobiles in this condition are worth more to them than restored ones.
Jonathan Klinger from the collector car insurance company who inspected the car closely, said, “This car still had scuff marks from racing mishaps and places where the paint was chipped off.”
For auctioning off the car, Bonham received a twelve percent commission from the $30 million.
“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 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.
According to market watch, the racecar was sold to a British collector sometime after it was retired from racing. A French collector then purchased the car, followed by a German collector who purchased it next. And now it has been sold for a record amount at an auction.
Other items that were auctioned off relating to the W196 was a child-sized drivable replica with a 50cc engine that sold for $8,688, a one eighth scale version sold for $5,288, and a Fangio-signed photo of him in a W196 sold for $1,133.
Image Credit: Bonhams