You won't quite believe how cheap this high performance luxury Mercedes-Benz once owned by F1 world champion Hunt has just been sold for
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.
Hunt's post-F1 career was neither as glamorous or as expensive as many people thought it was. Although he remained a recognisable figure thanks to his BBC F1 commentary duties with Murray Walker, he actually encountered financial difficulties later in his life. Before that point he got his hands on the 560, which combined a comfortable interior with sports car performance.
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Perhaps the most famous Hunt car is the Austin A35 van that occasionally ferried his budgies across London, but he also owned multiple Mercedes and the 560 was one of the better looked after examples. His W116 450SEl 6.9 reportedly lived on bricks outside of his house because he lacked the finances to have it fixed up.
The 1988 560SEC was the product of two years of developing the 560 by Mercedes-Benz, and was one of the highlights of the brand's production models at the time. It was a two-door version of the iconic S Class W126 saloon, and was made to make 100mph down the autobahn feel like a Sunday cruise. An all-alloy V8 which produced 295bhp and 336lb ft of torque helped achieve this, and it could reportedly go to 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds. The top speed was 156mph. With these performance figures in mind, the selling price seems even more of a bargain.
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. Although it's not known what Hunt used the car for, picking up ladies would probably be an accurate and flattering description of its purpose, he owned it up until 1991 - a year before his death.
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 recoloured, and the complex 1980s electrics still work, including the heated seats, sunroof, steering column, outside temperature gauge and geographical horn noises (quiet beeps for quiet places).
Last month it passed its MOT with no advisories recorded, and is ready to be taken on to the road. The 18" alloys of the car will be showed off soon in a magazine feature detailing its life and that of its original owner.
Photos courtesy of Brightwells