Formula One driver Nico Rosberg recently took some time out from his busy schedule to hop behind the wheel of a classic Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow racer, a 1954 W196 driven in anger by racing legend Juan Manual Fangio. The current leader in the 2014 Drivers’ Championship was on hand to drive the W196 at the Hockenheim race track in Germany in an event preceding the opening race of the new DTM season.
Rosberg has previously expressed how much fun it is to drive the W196, but this time he wanted to share the experience with fans. The video above was taken by Rosberg while he drove the W196 around the race track. It provides a great visual and aural sense of what it’s like to drive the W196, and it also reveals some cool details about this particular W196 like the trim on its seat and the layout of its gauges.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the W196, it was one of the most dominant race cars of its time. It helped Fangio secure world titles in the 1954 and 1955 F1 world championships, and it also saw Stirling Moss secure his first victory at the 1955 British Grand Prix. Out of the 12 F1 races it was entered in, it ended up winning nine of them (four in ’54 and five in ‘55).
The 1954 race at the Nürburgring, in particular, marked the first time the W196 ran with open wheels, a move prompted by Fangio after he experienced problems with the famous streamlined bodywork used in previous races blocking his view. The W196 also came with the most advanced automotive technology of the time, as you'd expect in an F1 car, including: a fuel-injected engine; tubular spaceframe chassis; inboard brakes at all four corners; Desmodromic valve actuation; and a unique central power take-off from the in-line eight-cylinder's crankshaft to minimize vibration.
Incredibly, another Fangio-raced W196 went up for auction last year and sold for a staggering $29.7 million.