COLLECTORS' MOTOR CARS AND AUTOMOBILIA
GOODWOOD HOUSE, CHICHESTER, UK
Friday 12 July 2013
Bonhams is set to make history at this year's Festival of Speed, offering for sale the Mercedes-Benz W196 which helped five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio to his second Formula 1 drivers' championship in 1954. The 2½-litre straight-eight single-seater – chassis number 00006/54 – won that year's German and Swiss Grands Prix in Fangio's hands, the first successive victories achieved by the factory team in its post-war racing comeback. As well as becoming the first open-wheeled 'slipper'-bodied post-war Mercedes to win an F1 Grand Prix, the car's innovative design marked the introduction to
the sport of the fuel-injected engine, Mercedes-Benz all-independent suspension, multi-tubular spaceframe lightweight chassis design and all-round inboard-mounted brakes. The car also pioneered an in-line or straight-8 engine lay-down configuration to minimise overall height, and power take-off from the centre of the engine's long
eight-cylinder crankshaft to minimise vibration. The Mercedes-Benz team missed the first two rounds of the 1954 championship in
Argentina and Belgium, but made its debut in the French Grand Prix at Reims-Gueux, where the all-new W196 cars set new performance standards as Fangio and his team-mate Karl Kling finished first and second in both qualifying and the race. But after the enclosed-wheel cars struggled to place at the following round of the British Grand Prix at the more twisty Silverstone circuit, Fangio requested a 'slipper'- bodied, open-wheeled variant of the W196 in time for the next grand prix in Germany. The two new cars were '00005' and '00006'. In Fangio's hands, '00006' dominated the German and Swiss Grands Prix – winning the latter by 58.7 seconds from his nearest rival, Jose Froilan Gonzalez in his Ferrari. The latter was Fangio's third victory in four Grands Prix, and assured him of that year's title.
Bonhams Chairman Robert Brooks comments: "My motoring auction career
spans five decades and I have been privileged to have handled some of the world's most desirable and important motor cars. To handle the sale of this legendary W196 Grand Prix Car – the only one out of captivity from the factory – could well be the pinnacle. Our Goodwood Festival of Speed auction is shaping up to eclipse even the
record-breaking sale of last year."
The ex-Fangio W196 is not the only early entry for this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale. Among an exciting and varied array of consignments is another ex-race car certain to generate worldwide interest – the ex-Bill Spear/Sherwood Johnston 1955 Maserati 300S
Sports-Racing Spider (estimate £3.5 – £4.5 million). This fine example of one of the most desirable of all 1950s sports-racing two-seaters was the third ordered by American Briggs Swift Cunningham for his friend and team driver Bill Spear. In the hands of Spear and his co-driver Sherwood Johnston it finished third in its debut race in the 1955 Sebring 12-Hours, the American round of the FIA Sports Car World Championship – beaten only by the Ferrari of Phil Hill and Mike Hawthorn's winning Jaguar D-Type. After racing the car widely throughout the USA, Spear sold it in 1956, from where it passed to numerous careful owners before being acquired by the current vendor.
James Knight, Bonhams Group Motoring Director, comments: "In collecting terms, sports-racing cars of the 1950s are the most coveted of all. The competition between the great marques from this period – Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, Maserati – is as fierce today as it was then, and this Maserati 300S is right up there among the very best. A car equally at home on road or track, offering impeccable
handling and – crucially – able to accommodate two in comfort, it is the perfect all-rounder and eligible for all the great historic events, including the Mille Miglia, Le Mans Classic and Goodwood Revival."
Among other motor cars of interest included in this year's Festival of Speed sale is a 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 'Le Mans' Tourer from remarkable long-term ownership (estimate £1.4 million - £1.8 million) (3). Since it was purchased by its current owner in 1969 the car has been driven extensively and sympathetically, and has attended a multitude of historic sporting events. Although its original coachwork style is unknown, the car spent many years as a saloon by Corsica before being re-bodied in its present Le Mans-style coachwork in the late 1970s. It retains its original engine and chassis numbers, and is in first-class driving condition.
Other consignments include a 1952 Bentley R-Type Continental Sports Saloon with coachwork H.J. Mulliner (estimate £450,000 – £550,000), and the restored 1965 Ferrari 330GT 2+2 that was the first car bought by The Beatles' John Lennon (estimate £180,000 - £220,000) (1). In February 1965 the news that Lennon had passed his driving test made headlines across the nation, and luxury car dealerships near his Weybridge home jammed the road outside his security gates with
Maseratis, Aston Martins and the Jaguar XK-E. Lennon selected this car, then costing £2,000. Another celebrated ex-race car included in the sale is the 1965 Lotus Cortina Competition Saloon that won that year's European Touring Car Championship for Sir John Whitmore and Alan Mann Racing (estimate £90,000 - £120,000). Arguably the most famous of all racing Cortinas, 'KPU 392C' is one of two campaigned by the team during a year in which it dominated the series, with Sir John winning eight races and hill climbs out of the eight events contested.
Meanwhile the department will also offer 'NOJ 392', the lightweight Austin- Healey 100 Special Test Car that was the Works team entry into the 1953 Mille Miglia and Le Mans 24 Hour Race. The sixth built at Warwick in early 1953, the second of four racing models, and the only one to remain in its original form, this important car is highly original and offered in exceptional condition. In 1953 it finished 12th at Le Mans, second in class, recording an average speed of 89.59mph and a top speed of 118.2mph.
James Knight, Bonhams Group Motoring Director, said: "Having handled the sister car – NOJ 393 – that achieved a new world record for any Austin-Healey in December 2011, I am naturally delighted that Bonhams has been asked to handle the sale of NOJ 392. This car – uniquely – remains in Special Test Car configuration, the specification that it ran as a Works entry at the 1953 Le Mans 24-hours and Mille Miglia races. It is the sole survivor in this form."
Entries are still open. Call +44 (0) 20 7468 5801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org