On July 12, 2013, Bonhams sold this 1954 Mercedes Benz W196 Silver Arrow Formula One race car (Serial #00006/54), previously driven by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio for a record breaking amount. The hammer went down at almost $31 million, making it the most expensive car ever to have sold at auction. Although we felt that we should state that selling price out of some form of necessity, what we find most fascinating about this car is the absolute time capsule shape that it has remained in for so many years. “Patina”, “survivor”, and “original” are all fitting descriptive terms that are thrown around far too often, but in this particular scenario they couldn’t be applied more appropriately. Continue with us on the next page as we take a brief closer look at this spectacular car’s history while marveling at the attached photos…
Juan Manuel Fangio drove this particular car to wins at the 1954 German and Swiss Grands Prix.
It’s straight 8 produces approximately 257 horsepower and it is laid at an angle in the engine bay to reduce it’s overall frontal area, a trick that the factory also used in their 300 SL race cars.
It originally wore a streamlined aero body for use at high speed tracks, but for the 1954 Nurburgring race they re-bodied it as an open wheeler for the curvy track.
This W196 is the very car that assisted in Fangio in securing one of his world championship titles, and remains in the condition that it was last raced.
Looking at the photos of it as it sits untouched today never gets old, we are just mesmerized by them.
With so many over-restored vintage cars, it is refreshing to see one that actually still wears it’s original battle scars as-raced during it’s last competition, a fact that we feel without any doubt assisted it in reaching it’s historic high selling price.
We wonder if it had been restored at some point during it’s life throughout the years, how much less would it have sold for?
Hopefully the sale of this W196 carries enough convincing weight to those who currently own original, battered race cars once driven by racing giants to leave them as is. We only wish that many had had that very mindset previously before taking them to trailer queen status.
Information and photos sourced from: