An ex-Fangio 1954 German and Swiss GP-winning Mercedes-Benz W196 will be available for sale later this year. This could well be one of the rarest, most expensive and important historic Grand Prix racing cars to go under the hammer when it hits the block at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
It is the 1954 2½-litre straight-8 Mercedes-Benz W196 einsitzer-chassis number “00006/54” in which five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio won both the German and Swiss Grand Prix races in 1954.
It's a car that brought Mercedes its first back-to-back wins after the war, largely through its ground-breaking technology. Wrapped up in the W196 is tech like fuel injection, all-independent suspension, a multi-tubular “spaceframe” lightweight chassis, all-round inboard-mounted brakes and an engine which was designed to sit as low in the car as possible. Nowadays this sounds normal, but in 1954 technology like this was borderline witchcraft.
As soon as the bandy-legged Argentinian – who competed in 51 Formula 1 races, of which he won 24, set 28 pole positions and 23 fastest laps – plopped his bottom into chassis ”00006” it felt good. When he took the open-wheeled W196 around the 14.2-mile Nurburgring, he won. And then later, at the next race at the scary Bremgarten forest circuit at Berne, he was in the groove so much that he beat the second-placed rival Ferrari by 58.7 seconds.
The car has only seen the light of day once in the last 30 years and when it was asked Bonhams how much they're expecting it to go for, they said that £5 million was “a conservative number”. It goes under the hammer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.