Mystery GP Mercedes
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