At a Bonham’s auction held today in London, Juan Manuel Fangio’s 1954 Mercedes W196 sold for an astonishing $29.6 million, or £19.6 million in local currency.
The car, which was driven by Fangio to his second Formula 1 world championship in 1954 also claimed victory at the Swiss and German grand prix during the same season. Fangio’s Mercedes has become the most expensive car ever to have been sold at auction, beating out the former record holder — a 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype sold in 2011 — by nearly $15 million. In addition, the Mercedes W196 now holds the record as the most valuable Formula 1 car ever sold, as well as being the most valuable Mercedes-Benz ever sold at public auction.
The auction, which was conducted by English auction house Bonham’s on Friday was the most succesful public auction ever for the company. The auction was held at Goodwood ahead of the annual Festival of Speed. Robert Brooks, chairman of Bonham’s was suitably happy with the sale, quoted as saying: “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 today 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.”