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2013-07-13 14:01

RECORD PRICE FOR FANGIO'S MERC: A 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 driven by five-times Formula 1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio has been auctioned for a world record price. image: Bonhams

Constance Watson

LONDON, England - A rare Mercedes race car became the most expensive car yet sold at auction when an anonymous bidder bought it for the equivalent of about R295-million.

The 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 in which five-times Formula 1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio won two grands prix also became the most expensive Mercedes-Benz yet sold, auction house Bonhams said.

Bonhams motoring director James Knight told Reuters from the sale at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in southern England: "We've just witnessed history in the making."

CONSECUTIVE WINS

The previous auction record was held by a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sold for the equivalent of about R197-million in 2011.

The Fangio 2.5-litre straight-eight already had a storied history... the driver's 1954 victories in the German and Swiss GP's were the first consecutive wins by the Mercedes-Benz F1 team in the German racing crew's post-Second World War comeback.

The car competed in five World championship-qualifying GP races. After Fangio's 1954 Swiss win the W196R was retired to the Daimler-Benz Museum.

John Lennon's first car - a 1965 Ferrari GT coupe - was also sold but for the equivalent of about R5.6-million at the same auction.

The late Beatle bought the blue Ferrari after he passed his driving test in 1965. He sold it three years later.

It had a top pre-sale estimate of R3.4-million.

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