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Classic Cars

Mercedes W196 R Auction at Goodwood May be Most Expensive Ever

Just ten of the cars still exist; this is the only one privately owned.

The W196 R that will be auctioned is the only one in private hands

It is a rarity for one of the MercedesMercedes-BenzMercedes-BenzGermany, 1924 > present197 models
9896 photos
33 videos
Silver Arrow grand prix racers to show up in public, let alone go on sale. But this year at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on July 12, a 1954 Mercedes-Benz Type W196 RW196 Motortyp 196Mercedes-Benz W196 Motort...Germany, 1954 > 195515 photos
Formula 1 car will go up for auction.

Juan Manuel Fangio drove this W196 R to victory in the 1954 German and Swiss Grands Prix, and he won his first Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship with Mercedes that season as well. It is the only post-war Silver Arrows car in private ownership, and one of ten still in existence of 14 made. Mercedes owns six of the remaining W196 Rs, and the three others are in museum collections.

Bonham’s has not published an estimate for the sale yet, but Mercedes believes that it may be the most expensive car ever to be sold at auction.

The W196 R was Mercedes’ Formula 1 car for 1954. One streamlined car was built for the high-speed race in Reims, France. The rest had a conventional body. The design was basically carried over for the 1955 season but with a shorter wheelbase. The cars won back-to-back titles in 1954 and 1955, and Fangio took both championships.

Power for both cars came from a 2.5-liter inline-eight engine with desmodromic valve controls. The engines made between 250hp and 290hp depending on tune.

Mercedes donated this car to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, England, in 1973, and the museum sold it in 1980.

“Our expert’s report means that there are no uncertainties whatsoever about this racing car. It fully and unequivocally confirms the history and originality of the vehicle,” said Michael Bock of Mercedes-Benz Classic.

Also at Goodwood, Mercedes will hold an on-track demonstration of the W196 R from its own collection, along with other Silver Arrows racers. 

W196 Motortyp 196W196 Motortyp 196
Straight 8
Top Speed
149 mph
5, Manual
Maximum power
Fuel consumption (combined)
annual ownership cost




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