The $29,000,000 Mercedes, the Most Expensive Car Ever Sold at Auction
In July last year, Bonham’s auctioneers in Chichester sold a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 for a colossal $29.7m, making it the most expensive car ever sold at auction. The sale of the W196 is symbolic of a wider trend in the sale of collectible vehicles. In 2013, the total amount paid for collectable cars at action passed the $1 billion mark for the first time, showing that a passion for racing and classic cars is still alive and well. Let’s have a look at what makes the W196 so unique and expensive… The W196 was sold as part of a group of race cars that won nine World Championship-Qualifying Grand Prix races between 1954 and 1955. Race car connoisseurs will instantly recognise what is arguably the most beautiful car of all time. Driven by the now legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, the specific vehicle at auction won two of the races mentioned, becoming an icon on the circuit. It is also the most successful surviving W196, wining two of the nine races. The high price paid for the car stems from the fact that the W196 is now the only example that remains in private hands, with the rest consigned to either institutional museums or back with the manufacturer. The W196 was in fact the first Mercedes Grand Prix car that produced without a supercharger, as Mercedes calculated that fuel consumption would have been 2.3 times higher than all other engines, and so they used a 2.5l engine instead. As a result, the car represents a true piece of motoring history. With a 2,496.87 cc straight 8 engine providing 257 bhp, the 1954 model was phenomenally quick, and the upgraded 1955 version improved on this further, providing 310 bhp as it was bored and stroked, complete with desmodromic valves and fuel injection. Iconic under the bonnet, the car was also a style icon too. The diameter of the W196’s drum brakes were too large to fit inside the wheel rims, giving the car the iconic look shown below. No matter whether you’re someone who appreciates mechanics, style or automotive genius, you have to appreciate the W196. It may have cost over $29 million, but many consider it to be the ultimate vehicle. Whoever paid the princely sum certainly has a slice of true automotive history.