Juan Manuel Fangio, the Argentine racer considered by many to be the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time, was presented with a new 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster by the German automaker upon his retirement from competition.
The Mercedes was driven more than 70,000 kilometers (43,500 miles) by Fangio on tours of Europe and South America, and was known to be his favorite car. He kept it throughout his life before passing it to his family. The roadster has been displayed at the Juan Manuel Fangio Museum in his hometown of Balcarce, Argentina, since its foundation in 1986.
Fangio’s Mercedes is now being offered by RM Sotheby’s, not at public auction but for private sale for what assuredly will be a multi-million-dollar price tag. The sale will be conducted through sealed bidding from February 28 through March 4.
“Preserved in wonderfully original condition and having never had any registered keepers outside the Fangio family, the car still carries the same cream-colored suitcase in the boot (trunk) that Fangio would have used on one of his picture-perfect drives across Argentina,” according to an RM Sotheby’s news release.
RM Sotheby’s has prepared a stunning video about Fangio and the Mercedes 300 SL:
Known to his fans as El Maestro for his flawless driving technique, Fangio racked up five World Drivers’ Championship titles in the 1950s, two of those while driving for Mercedes-Benz, scoring consecutive seasons’ victories in 1954 and 1955 behind the wheel of the iconic W196.
Fangio also was charismatic and popular, particularly in his home country, where he brought his 300 SL after being gifted with it in London on his 47th birthday.
“First registered in Argentina in March 1960 and from that time, Fangio would continue to use the Roadster extensively throughout the next two decades, fulfilling appearances at new Mercedes-Benz showrooms as the German company expanded its dealer network in South America,” the news release says. “Fangio was known to travel between appointments in his beloved 300 SL.
“When Silvana Suárez was crowned ‘Miss World’ in 1978, she undertook a parade on the streets perched atop the rear seats with Fangio at the wheel. The 300 SL twice attended the 1000 Millas with Fangio, a thousand-mile endurance race in Argentina.”
Fangio’s nephew, Juan Manuel Fangio II, recalls many happy memories associated with the Mercedes.
“That car marked my childhood, it is a car that awakened special feelings in me,” Fangio II said. “That car identified my uncle after his retirement. It occupied a preferential place among all the vehicles he had, not only because of the characteristics it had, but also because of the importance it gave having been a gift from Mercedes-Benz.”
The Mercedes has lasted through the years largely undisturbed, retaining its original matching-numbers chassis, engine, body, gearbox, differential, hood frame and hardtop.
“It retains, most importantly, its original Creme leather interior with all the wear and tear created by the great man’s ownership, including where his knee would have collided with the lower dash,” the release states. “In addition, the interior features a unique gear knob fitted by Fangio, and a UPPI sticker, an organization that Fangio was a founder member of as a predecessor to the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.
“In addition to this 300 SL’s unique story and remarkable condition, the next owner will be the second registered owner after the Fangio family.”
For more information about what could well become a record sale for a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, visit the RM Sotheby’s website.