Mercedes Benz W196, the most expensive german car ever sold (so far)
There are cars and cars and there are prices and prices, but there are always reasons to buy the most expensive car on earth. Some of them could be subjective but certainly others are more rational.
Many cars are produced to be beautiful, others to be practical and Mercedes-Benz W196 was produced to win races. The car was driven in 1954 and 1955 World Championships winning both of them. Raced 12 times, got 9 wins, 8 pole positions and 9 fast laps. Beat that if you can. The steering wheel was touched and raced by Juan Manuel Fangio, Sir Stirling Moss, Andre Simon, Piero Taruffo and Hans Herfmann between others. I think it is a pretty good cocktail to end up with a well-desired and expensive car. On top of that, all the cars produced are in hands of museums except for 1 chassis, 00006/54. This precise car was auctioned by Bonhams in the summer 2013 during the Goodwood Festival of Speed and fetched a price tag (with taxes and broker fee included) of £20,896,800. To put things in comparison, you could have bought over 60 Lamborghini Miura or pretty much the same amount of 1973 Porsche 2.7 RS, in any case pretty exceptional.
But let’s dig a bit more into the details of the car. The car was realised in the summer 1954 for the French GP in Reims. It was a wet weekend and drivers had a new car between hands. The long-awaited Mercedes W196 with its straight-8 fuel-injection engine made its debut with Juan Manuel Fangio transferring from Maserati to join an otherwise all-German line-up of Hans Herrmann, Karl Kling and pre-war driver Hermann Lang totally unexpected For Mercedes. Fangio got the pole position and won the race, Hans Herrmann got the fastest lap and Mercedes got a 1-2 win too. That was the first race only.
Next race was the British GP (VII RAC British GP officially named) 2 weeks later, again on wet weather too. In qualifying Fangio got Pole position and during the race set Silverstone's fastest ever lap, breaking the 100 mph barrier with a lap of 100.35 mph. He couldn’t win the race (finished 4th) and the other Mercedes car driven by Karl Kling finished 7th.
The following race was probably the most important in the year for the brand as they were racing home, Nurburgring for the German GP (XVII Großer Preis von Deutschland). This time the weather was dry and sunny and again the Mercedes W196 made it: Pole position, fastest lap and race win! What a great weekend for the Germans!
1955 season was not a bad one either. The car won every race except the Monaco GP. It was shortened thought due to the Le Mans disaster.
Fangio and Moss were talking about how difficult to drive was the car and how reliable it was on every race. The W196 was so technologically advanced and ahead of its time, that the narrow tyres available at the time simply could not fully handle the car's exceptional performance, you know why? The W196 was the only F1 car with such an advanced fuel technology, giving it a considerable advantage over the other carburetted engines, not only in terms of power but also in terms of fuel consumption, making the car almost a rocket with wheels. Brilliant !
There are loads of stories and anecdotes about this car online if you want to dig more into it but I’m sure the owner of the car knows them all. Jokes aside, this car was a great performer and it is a masterpiece of art. You can find some examples on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart.
Pictures thanks to Seriouswheels.com and Pinterest