Niki Lauda’s historic Mercedes-Benz 190E race car to be sold at auction – UPDATE

Niki Lauda’s historic Mercedes-Benz 190E race car to be sold at auction – UPDATE
Niki Lauda’s historic Mercedes-Benz 190E race car to be sold at auction – UPDATE

The 1984 ‘Nurburgring Race of Champions’ pitted 20 motorsport legends against each other in identical Mercedes-Benz sedans. Only two cars remain in as-raced condition – and this is one of them.

UPDATE, 16 September 2023: The 1984 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 raced by Niki Lauda in the 1984 ‘Race of Champions’ has sold at auction for 308,750 Swiss francs ($AU535,000), making it the most expensive 2.3-16 ‘Cosworth’ on record.

The price significantly eclipses the previous record of 95,450 Swiss francs ($AU165,000), paid for ‘another’ Race of Champions car that had been returned to road specification.

However it is not quite at the levels commanded by the formidable and rare 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II models, three of which have sold for between $US420,000 and $US440,000 ($AU650,000-$680,000) in the past three years.

The Lauda 190E was sold at RM Sotheby’s Iseli Collection auction in St. Moritz, Switzerland yesterday.

25 August 2023: A race-prepared 1984 Mercedes-Benz 190E sports sedan driven in a promotional racing event by three-time Formula One champion Niki Lauda is set to cross the auction block.

In May 1984, to celebrate the opening of the newly constructed Nurburgring Grand Prix Circuit in Germany, a ‘celebrity’ race was held.

The 20 competitors were all motorsport legends made up of current and retired Formula One drivers – nine of them were former world champions – and German touring-car racing winners.

Among legendary names like Stirling Moss, Alain Prost, James Hunt and Australia’s own Alan Jones and Jack Brabham, two names stood out.

The first, a young wildcard entrant in his debut Formula One season, named Ayrton Senna, and the second, a man who had not returned to the Nurburgring in the eight years following his near-fatal accident there in Formula One, Niki Lauda.

All drivers were supplied identical cars, the then-new Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 sports sedan.

Standard road cars were used, mildly modified with racing exhausts, lower suspension, wider wheels, upgraded brakes and tyres, and a roll cage for the event. Half the grid was painted in the 190E’s iconic Blue-Black (Blauschwarz) and the other in the platinum shade of Smoke Silver.

The twelve-lap race has often been credited as being Senna’s ‘lightbulb’ moment for the world, where the young Brazilian qualified third and went on to win.

Meanwhile Lauda missed practice and only qualified 14th, but went on to battle his number-18 Smoke Silver 190E to second place.

After the event, Senna was gifted a new 190E by event sponsor Mercedes-Benz, and his race-winning car was sent to the Mercedes-Benz museum, where it still resides today.

All but one other of the racing ‘baby Benzes’ – including a 21st ‘spare’ car – were returned to road trim and sold. According to some reports, German driver Hans Hermann nursed his car gently to a 16th-place finish as he had arranged to buy it personally.

The final car, Niki Lauda’s second-place Smoke Silver example, was sold in full-race trim to a collector and is now being offered for sale by RM Sothebys as part of the Iseli Collection sale in Switzerland in September.

Lauda’s ‘Nurburgring’ 190E 2.3-16 was reunited with its famous pilot in 2016, where he autographed the roof.

The car underwent a mechanical recommissioning in 2018 and was reunited with the first-place Senna car for a photo shoot in 2019.

It hasn’t been cosmetically restored and still presents as if it rolled into the pit lane after the race four decades ago.

While prices of Mercedes-Benz 190Es have been climbing, it’s only the high-performance Evolution II editions selling at high prices, with the highest price paid as $US434,000 ($AU680,000) in 2020.

Regular 2.3-16 examples are selling for about $30,000, but the most paid for a ‘Cosworth’ 2.3-16 was 95,450 Swiss francs ($AU168,000) in 2020 for one of the ‘other’ Nurburgring Race of Champions cars, the re-converted road car of the number-8 entry driven by Manfred Schurti.

Despite this, the Lauda car may set a new record for the 190E as the car has a pre-auction estimate between 400,000 and 500,000 Swiss francs ($AU700,000 to $900,000).

View the listing at RM Sothebys here.

The post Niki Lauda’s historic Mercedes-Benz 190E race car to be sold at auction – UPDATE appeared first on Drive.

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