Mercedes-Benz highlights its extensive history at its nine-floor museum in Stuttgart, Germany. The building holds over 1,500 exhibits, dozens of Mercs, and many racing highlights. A piece of that history greets visitors before they even enter the museum thanks to the life-size bronze sculpture of Juan Manuel Fangio and his winning Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Silver Arrow race car.
Fangio and his winning car have become a popular photo spot since the museum opened in 2006. The three-tonne (6,613-pound) sculpture allows visitors to sit in the life-size car, which has shined the bronze around the cockpit and on the steering wheel from people climbing in and out of it over the years.
Mercedes raced two versions of the W 196 R with Fangio, both of which are on display inside the museum. One had free-standing wheels, just like the sculpture, and was designed for winding courses. The company also raced a streamlined version for the high-speed tracks. The 2.5-liter inline-eight engine made a whopping 290 horsepower (231 kilowatts), which allowed the car to reach nearly 186 mph (300 kph) almost 70 years ago and long before safety was considered an important factor.
Many regard Fangio, born in Argentina in 1911 and died in 1995, as one of the greatest racing drivers ever, winning five Formula One World Championships racing for four different brands, including Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati. Fangio won two of them with Mercedes in 1954 and 1955, helping establish the automaker as a dominant force in F1. The sculpture also honors Fangio’s relationship with Mercedes.
The sculpture depicts Fangio standing next to his winning car. One hand holds the steering wheel, with his helmet tucked under his other arm, inviting visitors to take a seat. The sculpture is one of five casts of a monument located at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. Catalan artist Joaquim Ros i Sabaté created it, and casts are also located at the Nurburgring, Monaco, Monza, Mercedes’ Argentina headquarters, and the Mercedes-Benz Museum.