The rarefied roadster would carry on doing the rounds with Fangio until it was shipped to – as a ‘trophy’ to avoid car import tax – Argentina in 1960. Once back in his home country the car was well used, eventually clocking up 72,000 km (45,000 miles) with nearly all of them driven by Fangio as he toured South America, helping Mercedes raise its profile on the continent as it opened new dealerships.
The car would then re-enter the spotlight when the former F1 star used it to chauffeur the 1978 ‘Miss World’ Silvana Suárez on her parade in Buenos Aires after being crowned.
The Argentinian campaigned the 300 SL in 1000 Millas endurance race twice before it was then retired to the Juan Manuel Fangio Museum in his hometown of Balcarce, where it was put on permanent display from 1986.
“That car marked my childhood, it is a car that awakened special feelings in me,” said his nephew and fellow, Juan Manuel Fangio II. “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 64-year-old SL is in remarkably good condition, whilst still bearing all the hallmarks of use by an F1 champion in retirement. It has a different gear knob – installed by Fangio – and UPPI sticker, a pre-cursor to the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association.
It still has the original engine, body, gearbox, differential, hood frame and hardtop, as well as the suitcase used by the F1 champion on his travels, the scuff marks where his knee would rub against the dashboard still visible.
Whoever buys the car will be its second-ever owner, after the Fangio family itself.