Car at centre of Le Mans disaster breaks auction record

1st December 2011, Comments 0 comments

A vintage British racing car at the centre of motorsport's most deadly accident sold for a record-breaking £843,000 ($1,323,000, 982,000 euros) at a British auction on Thursday.

The 1953 Austin-Healey 100 Special Test Car, which had been left untouched in an English barn for 42 years, was involved in the 1955 Le Mans disaster which claimed the lives of French driver Pierre Levegh and 83 spectators.

"This is a fantastic result for the Austin-Healey and a world record for any car of this make at auction," a spokeswoman for the Bonhams auction house said.

"Everyone is delighted," he added. "The auction went on for about 10 minutes and there was a tense, excited and hushed atmosphere in the room as four bidders competed for the car.

"We had bidders in the room and over the phone, but the car finally went to a private buyer who was in the room."

The car, which was driven by Englishman Lance Macklin during the ill-fated 1955 race, was shunted by Levegh's vehicle which then fireballed into the crowd.

The auctioned vehicle, which also competed in the 1953 24-hour race, was impounded by French authorities after the accident before being released back to the Donald Healey Motor Company 18 months later.

It was then repaired and restored before being bought by Thursday's seller in 1969.

The car remained unrestored in the owner's barn until it was brought to auction at Mercedes Benz World in Weybridge, southeast England.

© 2011 AFP

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