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Fangio’s F1 Mercedes-Benz for sale

1954 Mercedes-Benz W196

1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Fangio racecar, set to be auctioned on 12 July. (Spitzley/Monkhouse Collection)

Looking for a new car? Want something that's fast, boasts proper racing pedigree and was formerly campaigned by one of the finest Formula 1 drivers in history, “El Maestro”?

Well, we have the perfect car for you: an ex-Fangio 1954 German and Swiss GP-winning Mercedes-Benz W196.

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 later this year.

Why's it so special? Because 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 that 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. So good that when he took the open-wheeled W196 around the 14.2-mile Nurburgring (yeah, that one) 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. Which is lightyears in F1.

The car has only seen the light of day once in the last 30 years and when we asked Bonhams how much they're expecting it to go for, we were told that £5 million was “a conservative number”.

It goes under the hammer on 12 July at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Plenty of time then to start saving/buy lots and lots of lottery tickets. Who's bidding?

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