Juan Manuel Fangio’s 1954 Mercedes W196 F1 Silver Arrow became world’s most expensive car this month when it was auctioned off for $31 million or £20,896,800.This figure is almost double the price of the previous record holder, the Ferrari Testa Rossa prototype that had fetched £10,086,400. The auction, Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale was conducted by Bonhams on the 12th of this month. The car has gone to an unidentified telephone bidder.
So what makes this car so special to fetch such an astronomic price? A lot. Not only is this car rare, it is beautiful, fitted with several technological firsts, world changing, and driven by some very famous people. Only fourteen W196Rs were ever made. Three are in museums, ten with Mercedes Benz, leaving only this one with chassis 006/54 in private hands. It is also the first fuel injected F1 car, which is now the norm. Mercedes collaborated with Bosch to work on the special feature. It has an amazing power to weight ratio, which could be imitated properly only by the 80s. Rudolf Uhlenhaut was the man behind its design. Desmodromic valve actuation, independent suspension, inboard brakes were way ahead of its time propelling the team into another league altogether.
This car won or at least achieved pole positions in the 1954 British, German and French Grand Prix. And the driver was the Argentinean, Juan Manuel Fangio, considered one of the greatest Formula 1 racers of all times. What is interesting is that he wasn’t a young bloke starting at the ripe age of 38 years in a sport that is considered a reserve for young bloods. But he beat all odds to win 24 Formula 1 races and still holds the highest winning percentage of a Formula 1 driver at an astonishing 46% (24 wins from 52 starts). To show you how impressive this feat is, Michael Schumacher, one of the most successful racers of recent times has the winning percentage of 29.6% (91 from 308).