Rare gems of automotive history are always popping up at the Bonhams auction at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but the racecar you see above just made a little more history. This Mercedes W196R was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio to wins in the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prix races, and when the hammer fell at auction yesterday, the $29.65 million price it fetched made it the most expensive car ever sold at auction. It’s also earned the honor of being the most expensive F1 car ever sold and the most valuable Mercedes-Benz in the world.
Still battered by racing and time, this car in an important piece of history to both Formula One and Mercedes-Benz alike. According to Bonhams, Fangio’s wins gave Mercedes its first back-to-back post-war Grand Prix victories, and it introduced F1 cars to fuel-injection, tubular spaceframe chassis and inline eight-cylinder engines. Robert Brooks, Bonhams Chairman, called this car the “most important historic Grand Prix racing car ever offered for sale.”
Based on our own records, the Mercedes W196R came close to almost doubling the prior record holder for the most expensive car sold at auction, a 1957 Ferrari 250 TR Prototype that sold for $16.39 million at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach auction in 2011. The Mercedes even came kinda-sorta close to the record price for a car sold privately, the current big seller being a 1962 Ferraro GTO built for Sterling Moss that went for a reported $35 million in a private sale last year.
Scroll down for more information about the Mercedes W196R F1 car, and be sure to check out the trio of images (including one of the car in action).