For Sale: Juan Manuel Fangio’s Hallowed 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
El Maestro sat in these very seats.
Every once in a great while, a legendary car comes up for auction and it sends a ripple through the collective hearts of enthusiasts everywhere. In this instance, it’s a 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster soon to cross the block for what will surely be a seven- (or maybe eight!) figure total when the hammer comes down. This is not just a vehicle but a tangible slice of history; it’s a car gifted to and driven by a legend.
After an incredible and impressive career during which he notched back-to-back world championships driving for Mercedes-Benz in 1954 and 1955, Juan Manuel Fangio was set to retire from F1 in 1958. To commemorate the occasion, the German automaker presented him with a gorgeous 1958 300 SL roadster finished in Metallic Light Blue over Crème. Before Fangio passed away in 1995, this specimen of a car was sent to Fangio's personal museum in his hometown of Balcarce, Argentina. In the next few weeks, the roadster will be up for auction through high-end firm RM Sotheby’s as a private sale, and it’s no exaggeration to say this has a fair shot at becoming the most expensive Mercedes-Benz 300 SL in the world.
Fangio is a testament to the saying “it’s never too late” as he didn’t start racing F1 until he was 37. He started out as a humble mechanic, dropping out of school at 13 to work. His passion for cars carried him through the next two decades, learning and driving and racing. When Fangio finally hung up his helmet for good, he had amassed a record number of wins that included five World Championship of Drivers events. For 46 years, that record stood until Michael Schumacher broke it with six championships in 2003.
Dubbed “El Mastro,” Fangio was an incredible all-around driver. He has been widely quoted as saying, “Driving fast on the track does not scare me. What scares me is when I drive on the highway and get passed by some idiot who thinks he is Fangio.” That sentiment didn’t keep him from road tripping; after he received this particular 300 SL he drove it throughout Europe and South America. Today, it has about 44,000 miles on the clock, most of which are said to have been logged by the man himself.
“Part of the appeal with owning a true artifact of motorsports history like this example is a direct line of association with the man who owned it,” says the auction house. “The gear selector, steering wheel, and seats have not been replaced, and as such are the very tools used to operate this sports car by the Argentinian expert himself.”
Think of it: the person who buys this storied car will sit in the very seat that cradled Fangio himself. They will steer with the same wheel. They will shift the car into drive with the same instrument Fangio took into his hands to conduct a symphony of internal combustion from the 3.0-liter straight six.
Offers will be accepted by RM Sotheby's as all-in sealed bids between March 21 and March 25 while the car sits in Switzerland waiting to be adopted. The auction house says it won't disclose the final price, but between skyrocketing prices for classics and the rich history of this vehicle, it would not surprise me a bit if it sells for north of $8 million.
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