The car becomes the most valuable motor vehicle ever sold at auction, beating the previous record of £10,086,400 set by a Ferrari in 2011.
Robert Brooks, Bonhams Chairman, said: “I have handled some of the world’s most desirable and important motor cars during a motoring auction career spanning five decades, but I have reached a peak today with this legendary Grand Prix car. It was a personal privilege to preside over the sale of this vehicle, which is not only one of the most significant motor cars of the 20th century, but also the most important historic Grand Prix racing car ever offered for sale.”
Doug Nye, racing historian, said: “If he were here today Fangio would shake his head and smile his slow smile. He was a humble man, originally a mechanic from a potato town in Argentina – and he never forgot his roots. As a driver, he was simply a genius. As a man he had no enemies. He was universally loved, even by those he regularly beat on track. No standard-setting sportsman could have a better epitaph.
“Mercedes has long been recognised for the world-class quality of its products and in 1954/55 they set out to rebuild their reputation for automotive excellence post-war. With this W196 and its sports car sisters they did just that... and how!”
The 2½-litre straight-8 W196 – chassis number ‘00006/54’ – was the car in which Fangio won both the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prix races. These great victories were the first two to be achieved in succession by the frontier-technology Mercedes-Benz factory Formula 1 team in its post-war racing comeback. Chassis ‘00006’ also has special significance as the first open-wheeled ‘slipper’-bodied post-war Mercedes-Benz to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix race.
Bonhams also set a new world record highest price for a Maserati at auction, when a 1955 300S Sports-Racing Spider sold for £4,033,500. The previous record was £2,251,520 set in 2012.
The result means Bonhams now holds the world records for the following marques at auction: Aston Martin (£3,200,000), Austin-Healey (£843,000), Bentley (£5,000,000), Maserati (£4,033,500), Mercedes-Benz (£19,601,500) and Rolls-Royce (£4,700,000).