The Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 car that gave Juan Manuel Fangio the second of his five championship titles is now the world's most expensive car ever sold at an auction after it fetched £19,601,500 (P1.285 billion) at the Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale staged by the Bonhams auction house.
The record-setting bid on Fangio's 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R tops the £10,086,400 (P660 million) a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa commanded in 2011.
"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," said Bonhams chairman Robert Brooks. "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."
For the 1954 Formula 1 season, Fangio drove--and won--the first two championship-bearing races for Maserati since the Mercedes-Benz W196R still wasn't ready then. When the car was finally made available for the French Grand Prix, Fangio won it as well. After finishing only in fourth place for the British Grand Prix, Fangio recommended that the W196R be turned into an open-wheel race car. Fangio's suggestion worked since he--and the W196R--won the succeeding German and Swiss Grands Prix, giving him enough points to win his second title with two more races to go in the eight-race season.
Besides now bearing the distinction as the "most valuable car ever sold at an auction," Fangio's Mercedes-Benz is now also the "most valuable Formula 1 racing car ever sold" as well as the "most valuable Mercedes-Benz."