Supercar Sunday: Championship-Winning Formula 1 Car Sells for $30 Million at Auction

By Jacob Brown | July 14, 2013
Your eyes haven't misread anything: A Formula 1 race car driven by Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954 has sold for $29.6 million at auction. Let that sink in for a second. Twenty-nine-point-six million dollars. That makes it the most expensive car ever sold at auction. Fangio definitely helped for his part. The 1954 Formula 1 world champion, Fangio took his Mercedes-Benz W196 race car to victory in the German and Swiss Grand Prix, among others, as he won four races in a row. Originally, the car had fender covers on either side for better aerodynamics, but Fangio had them removed and made other tweaks to the car. After that, he and his car were nearly untouchable. Of course, when the W196 was among the first cars to have fuel injection, all-independent suspension, tube frame, and inboard-mounted brakes to reduce unsprung weight in corners, it's bound to make its way to a few victories. Fangio, an Argentinian born in 1911, won five F1 world championships and finished on the podium 35 of the 54 times he raced. Of those, 24 were outright victories. The 1954 season was his second championship year and one of the first back to competition for Mercedes-Benz after World War II. The car sold at this year's Goodwood Festival auction, which takes place during the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed.
While the $29.6 million Mercedes-Benz W196 is the most expensive car sold at auction, it is not the most expensive car ever. Three years ago, a Bugatti 57C Atlantic traded hands privately for somewhere between $30 million and 40 million. When you get to that point, a car is no longer transportation; it's fine art. What do you think? Source: Bonhams Auction House