£19.6m for the ex-Fangio Mercedes-Benz W196 at Bonhams' Goodwood auction
The ex-Fangio Mercedes-Benz W196 GP car was undoubtedly the highlight of Bonhams' Goodwood Festival of Speed auction earlier today, it achieved the immense sum of 19.6 million Pounds (about $30m). Bidding stopped at £17.5m, which means a buyer's premium of an equally baffling £2.1m! Moreover, it smashed the last world record for the most expensive car sold at auction by a considerable amount; seeing the record was held up to today by a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa which was sold in 2011 for 'just' $16.3m. This W196 was the car in which Fangio won the 1954 German and Swiss GPs. After the 1955 Monza Grand Prix the car was pensioned off and resided in Mercedes-Benz' collection until 1973 when it was gifted to Britain's National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and years later was sold to collector Sir Anthony Bamford and was finally sold to German businessman Friedhelm Loh. We dived into our photographic archive and found a rather impressive image by an amateur photographer to accompany this story; this is the very car sold at today at auction in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio at the 1954 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Fangio looks calm driving through what looks like the track's start-finish area, yet the race was a rather more eventful affair than this photo appears to suggest, as noted in the following press blurb Bonhams provided.
"Fangio qualified his brand-new 'Triple-Oh-Oh-Six' ... on pole position, while Kling lost a wheel on the Tiergarten Straight and had to start way down the grid.
Despite the grief of having lost their compatriot driver Onofre Marimon who had crashed fatally in his works Maserati during practice, Fangio and Froilan Gonzalez of Ferrari promptly ran 1-2 as the Grand Prix began. 'Triple-Oh-Oh-Six' outpaced the Ferrari, but was itself caught and passed by team-mate Kling's W196, charging up from the back of the grid. While Fangio sat back in second place, confident he could handle the German driver/engineer in the closing stages, Kling was a man on a mission before his home crowd. Then he began to taste and smell a fuel haze blowing past him in the cockpit. He realized his car's tail-tank was leaking, and his apparently crazy pace was to build time to refuel.
Neubauer became frantic. Fangio: "This was not how the race was supposed to run...but I was not responsible, so every time I passed the pits I pointed at Kling as if he had no right to be there...". Neubauer angrily signalled Kling 'FANG-LANG-KLING'.
But the veteran Lang could not maintain the pace, eventually to spin off when his W196 seized. With six laps to run the 300,000 crowd eagerly anticipated a home win for Mercedes-Benz and Karl Kling, but the commentator at the Karussel suddenly announced that Fangio had retaken the lead, and Kling was slowing. He stopped at the pits with a transmission mounting broken. It was wired in place and he rejoined to finish fourth.
Having conserved his brand-new car, and ever confident he could have disposed of Kling had he kept running, Fangio hurtled home in 'Triple-Oh-Oh-Six' to cement Mercedes-Benz's comeback with this home-race victory."
Other impressive results in this auction included £4m for a 1955 Maserati 300S, £113,500 for a 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce, £785,500 for a 1953 Austin-Healey 100 (which happened to have participated in the Mille Miglia and 24h of Le Mans), £1.9m for a 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 and a strong £183,500 for a 1965 Lotus Cortina while John Lennon's Ferrari 330GT 2+2 Berlinetta went for the princely sum of £359,900. For more results see here: http://bit.ly/12lZxq