Very rarely do we find a grail pick that combines two rare, historic, and high-performing entities. In the world of collecting cars, exclusivity and pedigree are often the currencies of the realm, so when you find an item that blends the two to the highest degree, it’s bound to make waves. In this case, we’ve got a 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, which, on its own, is an iconic car, but when you take into consideration that it was owned and driven by “El Maestro,” Juan Manuel Fangio, you have a priceless piece of automotive history.
One could argue with quantitative evidence that Juan Manuel Fangio is the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time. He has the highest percentage of race wins with 24 victories, the highest percentage of pole positions with 29, and took the podium 35 times out of his 52 entries. Simply put, the man dominated racing. He brought Mercedes-Benz two World Championships in 1954 and 1955 and remained a lifelong fan of the brand for the rest of his life. Upon his retirement in 1958, Mercedes-Benz gifted him this resplendent 300 SL Roadster that became his favorite car.
Immediately upon receiving the car, Fangio embarked on a European road trip as Mercedes-Benz’s brand ambassador. From there, Fangio had the car exported to his home country of Argentina where he used this car to promote the brand throughout South America. To this day, Mercedes-Benz’s popularity in South America can be traced directly to Fangio’s efforts as a brand ambassador with this car. The car’s odometer shows 72,951 km, and it’s believed that nearly all of those miles (er, kilometers) were put on the car by Fangio.
At the end of his life, Fangio donated this car to the Juan Manuel Fangio Museum, where it stood as the crown jewel of the museum’s car collection for 35 years. The car itself is still in fantastic condition and almost entirely original, retaining its matching-numbers body, chassis, differential, engine, gearbox, hood frame, and even its hardtop. It also still sports its factory-correct color combination of a Metallic Light Blue exterior over an original Cream leather interior. This iconic piece of racing and automotive history will go up for auction in Switzerland through RM Sotheby’s from February 28th through March 4th.