A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Coupe has set a new record for the purchase of a car, with all proceeds going to charity.
The winning bid of €135 million (£114.5m) smashed the previous record, which is believed to stand at $78m (£62.5m) for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, set in 2018.
The Mercedes-Benz was bought by car dealer and expert Simon Kidston on behalf of an unnamed client at a secret, invite-only event hosted by the German car maker.
Said to be the ‘Mona Lisa of car racing’ because of its rarity, the 300 SLR Coupe is one of just two models, with both having been retained by Mercedes from new.
It uses a 302bhp 3.0-litre straight-eight-cylinder engine and is based on the open-top model that dominated the 1955 World Sportscar Championship. This version was adapted with a closed cockpit for endurance competition.
Although neither of the Coupe models were raced, they were used in practice sessions. In testing, it was found to go from 0-60mph in 6.9 second and have a top speed of 176mph.
Writing in Autocar magazine in January 1957, motoring journalist Gordon Wilkins said: “To have driven it has eclipsed all previous experiences in 20 years of test driving on the world’s finest cars, and I do not expect to find its match for a long time to come.”
Commenting on the record transaction, Kidston said: “If you had asked classic car experts and top collectors over the past half a century to name the most desirable car in the world, there’s a good chance that they would have come up with the same model: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR.
“It’s a combination of exotic engineering, all-conquering racing history, the power of the three-pointed star on its nose and the fact that one had never, ever been sold. Many collectors had tried, all had failed.
“For everyone involved, and especially the new owner whom we represented, this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy the Mona Lisa of cars.”
All £114.5m will be donated to a charitable fund for young people, which is being set up by Mercedes-Benz.