One of the most iconic and successful Grand Prix cars of the 1950 is to be offered at auction, and could fetch well over $7 million!
One of the famous Mercedes Benz W196s piloted by five-time Formula 1 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio has been unearthed in a nondescript warehouse, having spent over 30 years in neglect gathering dust.
It won nine of the twelve Grands Prix it contested in Mercedes’ brief participation in the sport before it returned as a works operation in 2010.
The car was the first F1 racer to run with desmodronic valves and fuel injection in its 2.5-litre eight-cylinder engine, which pushed out 257bhp when it made its Grand Prix debut.
That race was the 1954 French Grand Prix at Reims, where the car ran with sleek ‘Monza’ bodywork to take advantage of the track’s long straights. Fangio and teammate Karl Kling claimed an emphatic 1-2, while Hans Herrmann posted the fastest lap of the race.
Fangio – who had won the opening two races of the season in a Maserati before joining Mercedes – won this race and the next two Grands Prix to win his second World Championship title.
In 1955, the car won every race except the Monaco Grand Prix, with the particular highlight being Stirling Moss’ maiden win on home soil at Aintree, beating Fangio by 0.2 seconds as the Silver Arrows crushed the opposition with an emphatic 1-2-3-4 finish (pictured, above right).
The car will be auctioned by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July – complete with dust and race marks – and is expected to fetch well above $7 million for the highest bidder.
Interestingly, Fangio never contested a World Championship Grand Prix for Mercedes sporting the #12 stickering shown in the photo from Bonhams. That designation was used just three times for this open-wheel model: at the 1955 British Grand Prix by Moss, and that year’s Belgian and Dutch Grands Prix by Karl Kling.