Better known for his partying lifestyle and 1976 Formula 1 World Championship title, James Hunt was also an avid breeder of budgerigar birds and an owner of some great road cars. One of his cars, a 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC Coupe, has just been sold by Brightwells Auctioneers for a bargain price of £15,400. It's not often you can say you're the owner of a car formerly belonging to an F1 world champion for less than the cost of a new hatchback.
The big, V8-powered coupé attracted an encouraging amount of interest prior to the auction and was eventually sold to a telephone bidder from Germany.
The exact origins of the car aren't known, but it is believed it was a gift to Hunt, and meant Hunt joined fellow F1 stars Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell in owning a SEC model, he owned it up until 1991 - a year before his death, after which it changed hands and registration numbers several times.
Accompanying the sale is the original logbook, which displays Hunt's names, and shows that the new owner also changed the car's registration plate when he received the keys. Subsequent owners also made the decision to change the plates, including one who went back and bought the old plates for the car, and was last sold a couple of years ago.
Approximately 142,500 miles have been covered by the car since 1988, and after the mileage started to show the car was sent to Fraser Pemberton Classic Automotive for refurbishing. This included a sprucing of the paintwork to make it look showroom fresh, a replacement front windscreen and a thorough service. The full leather Mushroom colour interior was cleaned and recolored, and the complex 1980s electrics still work, including the heated seats, sunroof, steering column, outside temperature gauge.
When the gavel fell on this 560SEC, its buyer acquired a slice of British racing history at a rather good price…