Mys­tery GP Mercedes

Classic Driver - - POSTCARD -

Lon­don auc­tion house, Bon­hams, are shap­ing up to sell one of the world’s rarest and most ex­pen­sive cars – the 1954 W196 (chas­sis 00006) MercedesBenz Grand Prix car that Juan Manuel Fan­gio raced to win GPs, at their Good­wood sale in July.

The ex­perts ex­pect a top bid of around £12 mil­lion! The car is the first of the open-wheeler post-war 1950s GP Mercs. They orig­i­nally came out with fully stream­lined ( Strom­lin­ien­wa­gen) body­work for the 1954 French GP at Reims. Fan­gio and Kling fin­ished an easy 1-2. Next race was Sil­ver­stone but Fan­gio got fed up with bounc­ing the streamliner off the marker bar­rels and re­quested the car be con­verted to an open-wheeler to win on the orig­i­nal 14.6-mile moun­tain­ous Nur­bur­gring. Another win at Berne in Switzer­land and he had won his sec­ond World Cham­pi­onship.

Mys­tery sur­rounds how the fa­mous Grand Prix Mercedes es­caped the Ger­man fac­tory mu­seum. I gather that Mercedes pre­sented the very spe­cial racer to Lord Mon­tagu for his Na­tional Mo­tor Mu­seum at Beaulieu but there was no Moss con­nec­tion... and his Lord­ship pre­ferred funds to ex­tend his mu­seum with a li­brary wing and lec­ture the­atre. The Mercedes dis­ap­peared from the mu­seum and from time to time moved qui­etly to a new mega-rich col­lec­tor. It ap­peared once, raced by Wil­lie Green in the Monaco his­toric races, but there­after lan­guished in a Euro­pean ware­house, dry, dusty, mis­un­der­stood and ne­glected.

I guar­an­tee it will set a new record sale price when it goes un­der the Bon­hams gavel at Good­wood on July 12!

W196 Mercedes GP car on crowded dis­play dur­ing its brief ten­ure in Lord Mon­tagu’s Na­tional Mo­tor Mu­seum

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