What is the most expensive car ever sold at auction? Ferrari dominates the list, but Mercedes, Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Alfa Romeo are also included in the most valuable and expensive cars to ever sell.
What about modern-day supercars? They can reach tens of millions of dollars as well. And every year there are new models more expensive than the last.
Would you believe there are more than 20 supercar models valued at over $1 million each?
I’ve included a link to the diecast scale model of each car, just in case you want to purchase one of the most expensive cars in the world, right now.
What Makes a Collector Car Valuable?
Before we get started with the list of the most expensive cars, let’s figure out what makes a collector car so valuable, exclusive, and elite. There are seven factors that make premium classic cars the most valuable.
- Supply and Demand
- Make & Model
- Restoration Quality
It’s not difficult to understand that an old Ferrari in perfect condition will be incredibly valuable. But to make the list of the most expensive cars to ever sell, you need to also have a great story.
Valuable collector cars are traced back to every owner. A celebrity or well-known billionaire owner will increase the value even more. The cars are not always decked with the highest luxury finishes, but showcased extreme performance for their day.
Many collector cars on the high-end of the most expensive list have also been used as racecars at one time or another, with prestigious victories in the most famous races.
What Is the Most Expensive Car in the World?
Ask a friend what the most expensive car in the world is, and they might say a Lamborghini Veneno. The high performance supercar has extreme cost and luxury interiors.
But with a value of $8.3 million, the costly Veneno doesn’t even come close to making our list of the 14 most expensive cars of all time.
Another guess might be the Bugatti La Voiture Noire. You would be getting closer. Worth at least $18 million, the 2019 La Voiture Noire ranks at the top of the charts for modern-day supercar sales. But we’re going to start with the classics.
There are modern hypercars, and then there are the classics. We need to make the distinction.
Here are your top 14 most expensive cars to ever sell at auction. After that, well take a closer look at new cars, the most expensive modern-day supercars. Enjoy!
#14 – 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, $18.5 Million
Chassis number 2505 GT sold for over $18 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2015, making it one of the most expensive Ferrari’s ever sold. It’s one of 16 open headlight SWB California Spiders in existence.
The car features 226 horsepower and a 3.0 liter Colombo V-12 engine with three Weber carbs.
Four-wheel disc breaks, solid rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, independent front suspension, and a four-speed manual transmission.
The car was originally owned in the 1960s by famous French actor Alain Delon.
The car underwent a complete restoration at the Ferrari facilities in Maranello. During the restoration, all mechanical systems were fully rebuilt, and the car was refinished in the Blu Scuro exterior color over Pelle Beige interior.
The restoration carried out by Ferrari Classiche is considered to be second to none and one of the most authentic models to exist.
The Ferris Bueller Ferrari
Not only is the 250 GT SWB California Spider included in the 10 most expensive cars ever sold, but the model was also immortalized in pop culture history when it appeared in the 1980’s movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
If you don’t remember, the Ferris Bueller Ferrari had an epic day out on the town of Chicago before meeting it’s demise off the back of Cameron’s garage.
#13 – 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider, $19.8 Million
The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider was considered to be the equivalent of the Bugatti Atlantic of its generation. Like the Bugatti, in the Spider, Alfa Romeo combined the best engineering and styling of their generation in one thrilling package.
It was one of only 12 Lungo Spiders to exist when it sold in 2016. It was the first time an “Immortal 2.9” was offered at a public auction in the past 20 years.
The car was offered out of the Sam & Emily Mann Collection, which includes 50 of the most sought-after collector cars. The 1939 Alfa Romeo Spider won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance award in restoration by U.K. expert Tony Merrick.
#12 – 1995 McLaren F1, $20.4 Million
The original 1995 McLaren F1 supercar had only 243 miles on the odometer when it was sold for $20.4 million. Why did the McLaren sell for such an insane amount of money?
One of the many reasons for the high price tag of this particular car was that it sat in a private Japanese collection and was hardly touched since it was built. It’s also the only F1 model to sport the Creighton Brown exterior, a paint color named after an executive at McLaren.
In 1995, a supercar built completely from carbon fiber was unbelievable. It was revolutionary for its time and helped make it one of the fastest cars ever.
With a top speed of 240 mph, this model was never even registered for street use. The chassis number 029 sold for more than $5 million above the original auction estimate.
McLaren only built 106 F1 models from 1992 to 1998.
#11 – 1963 Aston Martin DP215, $21.5 Million
A true “one-of-one” Aston Martin. The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 turned plenty of heads at the 2018 Monterey auction by RM Sotheby’s. The Grand Touring Prototype was driven at the 1963 Le Mans by Lucien Bianchi and Phil Hill.
It was the last David Brown Aston Martin built for racing competitions. With a 198.6 mile-per-hour top speed recorded on the Mulsanne Straight, Aston Martin engineers were finally satisfied with the four-liter, six-cylinder engine.
The Aston prototype “Design Project” DP215 was carefully restored with its original engine, and thoughtful consultation of Ted Cutting, the original car designer.
#10 – 1955 Jaguar D-Type, $21.8 Million
In 2016 Sotheby’s auctioned the 1955 Jaguar D-Type for $21.8 million, selling one of the most important Jaguars ever to be produced.
250 horsepower, 3,442 cc DOHC inline six-cylinder engine with three Weber carburetors, four-wheel disc brakes, independent front suspension, transverse torsion bar, and live rear axle trailing links.
There have only been two private owners of the car since Ecurie Ecosse drove it to victory in the 1954 Le Mans.
The 1955 Jaguar D-Type has remained in the same private collection for the last 16 years leading up to the nearly $22 million sale.
The D-Type Le Mans Winner
The D-Type was an overall winner of the 1954 Le Mans, driven by Ecurie Ecosse. During the race, it averaged 104 miles per hour and topped out at 156 mph on the Mulsanne straight.
Shelby Myers, a car specialist at RM Sotheby’s, was quoted saying, “It has an incredible racing pedigree, having won the most grueling contest in sports car racing, the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans, and importantly. What’s more, is its amazing originality.
Pure in terms of body, chassis, and engine, there is no other Le Man’s winner from this period that is as original as this car.” The 1955 Jaguar D-Type registers at number 8 on the list of 10 most expensive cars ever sold.
#9 – 1935 Duesenberg SSJ, $22 Million
One of two SSJ models from Duesenberg in 1935, the open coachwork was designed by J. Herbert Newport Jr.
One of the highlights of the record-setting SSJ is the original, unrestored condition. Same chassis, same bodywork, and original engine.
Also, this particular rig had star power behind it. Gary Cooper was the original owner until 1949. Then just two owners after that until the $22 million Gooding & Company sale in 2018.
#8 – 1956 Aston Martin DBR1, $22.5 Million
The first of only 5 DBR1s in existence sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2017 for $22.5 million. Some consider the DBR1 the “most important Aston Martin ever produced.”
The sale surpassed the 1955 Jaguar D-Type as the most expensive British car ever sold at an auction. Only seven minutes of bidding were needed before one of the two bidders from private collections walked away with the vehicle.
The car was a winner at the 1959 Nurburgring 1000 race. It was driven by Roy Salvadori, Stirling Moss, Carroll Shelby, and Jack Brabham, among others. The DBR1 featured a six-cylinder engine producing 268 horsepower.
The car was awarded the ‘Most Elegant Sports Car’ Trophy at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2001. This was the first time a DBR1 has been sold at an auction publicly.
#7 – 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale, $26.4 Million
A total of three 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale cars were produced. The most valuable car of the three was the first ever produced. When the first one off the production line heads to an auction, you know it’s going to bring a considerable price tag.
The 2014 auction by Sotheby’s in Monterey, California, included the 320 horsepower Ferrari, chassis number 06701, and the sale topped $26 million.
There were 453 cars produced under the 275 GTB line in 1964. Only three 275 GTB/C Speciales were assembled especially for the 1965 running of the Le Man’s race. The ‘C’ stands for Competizione.
The very first car produced, chassis number 06701, never saw the race, but the well-documented history helps make this car one of the most incredibly rare collector items in history.
The Preston Henn Ferrari
Of the other 2 CTB/Cs in existence, they are both in the hands of private collectors. One of the private collectors, Preston Henn, recently passed, and there’s speculation as to whether his 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale will see an auction anytime soon.
Henn’s model, chassis number 6885, actually saw racing action. The car owned by Preston Henn won the GT class and finished 3rd overall at the 1965 Le Mans.
With the sale of the $26.4 million GTB/C that recorded no racing action, there’s speculation that if Henn’s car ever saw an auction, it could break all records currently standing for the most expensive car ever sold.
The list is sure to change, but currently, the 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale sits at the number 6 spot on the list of the 10 most expensive cars ever sold.
#6 – 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider, $27.5 Million
The 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider by Scaglietti was sold in 2013. The car was purchased new by Eddie Smith Jr. of North Carolina and had a single owner.
The Ferrari is just one of only ten NART Spiders ever produced. The NART was to signify the North American Racing Team, which was started by the Italian carmaker’s North American importer, Luigi Chinetti.
The car featured 300 horsepower with a 3,286 cc four overhead camshaft V-12 engine. Also included were four-wheel disc brakes, four-wheel upper and lower wishbone independent suspension, five-speed transmission, and a tubular steel frame.
The chassis number 10709 was all matching numbers with one original and dedicated owner who took possession directly from the production line in Italy.
The winning bid of the most recent sale in 2013 went to Lawrence Stroll, who was a Canadian businessman who helped create Tommy Hilfiger’s clothing brand in the 1990s.
The family of the owner, Eddie Smith Jr., who passed away in 2007, donated the entire sale proceeds to charity.
#5 – 1956 Ferrari 290 MM, $28 Million
Sotheby’s auction house sold the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM in 2015 for $28 million, making it one of the most expensive cars in the world of all time.
The chassis 0626 was built for racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio. The car was specially designed for the famed racer and five-time F1 world champion.
It was one of only four 290 MM models produced. It featured a 3.5 liter, V-12 engine. Fangio raced the car in the 1,000-mile Mille Miglia, which goes through Italy. He would finish fourth in the race.
The car has never crashed in all its race appearances. In 1857 drivers Eugenio Castellotti, Masten Gregory and Luigi Musso piloted the car to victory in the Buenos Aires 1000.
#4 – 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196, $29.6 Million
Mercedes-Benz produced only 16 of the W196 “Silver Arrow” cars, and only ten are still in existence. The nearly $30 million sale of the W196 was a model that was driven by racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio to victory in the 1954 German Grand Prix and Swiss Grand Prix.
Fangio was considered by many to be one of the greatest racing drivers of all time.
The Record Bonhams Mercedes Sale
The vehicle was sold at a Bonhams auction in 2013. Purchased at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Britain by an anonymous bidder, the car made headlines for not only its enormous price tag but also for being one of the highest-priced vehicles which were not produced by Ferrari.
At the time of the sale in 2013, the Mercedes W196 set a new record for the highest price ever paid for a car at auction. A record that was previously set in 2011 with the sale of a Ferrari for nearly $15 million.
Some of the car’s innovative designs included a fuel-injected engine, inboard-mounted brakes, a lightweight chassis design, and an all-independent suspension.
The Epic Grand Prix Mercedes Racer
At the time of the sale, auction house Bonhams called the Mercedes W196 the, “most important Grand Prix racing car.”
As more and more amazing cars are offered at future auctions, the list is sure to change, but currently, the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 is number 3 on the list of the 10 most expensive cars ever sold.
#3 – 1957 Ferrari 335 S, $35.7 Million
Auction house Artcurial held a sale in Paris in early 2016 for the 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti. The car sold for nearly $36 million.
A V12 engine with almost 400 horsepower reaching speeds of 186 miles per hour and minor interior finishes, this vehicle was built for road racing.
The Bardinon Collection
The car was part of the legendary Bardinon collection, including hundreds of vehicles and over 70 extremely rare models.
Pierre Bardinon was an heir to the French Chapal family who owned a leather and fur company. He became passionate about road racing, Ferraris, and the Le Man’s race.
The Ferrari Museum
He responded that such a museum already exists at Pierre Bardinon’s house in France. It was one of the highest compliments Bardinon could have received.
The Ferrari Racecar
The car has a storied racing history with legendary drivers at the wheel. The 1957 Ferrari 335 S appeared in the Cuba Grand Prix, driven by racing legend Sir Stirling Moss in 1958. It also competed in the Venezuela Grand Prix and the Swedish Grand Prix.
Some gruesome racing history is included with the 335 S. The Mille Miglia race through Italy from Brescia to Rome and back was eventually canceled because of a crash involving the car.
Alfonso “Fon” de Portago was driving the 335 S when he crashed into spectators near the village of Guidizzolo.
Several people were killed, including Portago and his co-driver. From public outcry, the race was canceled for good.
#2 – 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, $70 Million
Ferrari produced just 36 250 GTOs between 1962 and 1964. Originally sold for a retail price of $18,000, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO is now the highest-priced and most expensive collector car ever sold.
Prices of the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO rose during the late 1970s and 1980s when the vehicle became noted as the most valuable Ferrari model.
Then in the early 1990s, prices for collector cars plunged. Values began rising again in the late ’90s and have not looked back. The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO is currently the most expensive car ever sold.
Sotheby’s Record Ferrari GTO Sale
A few recent sales indicate extreme demand for the 1962 Ferrari GTO. At a 2018 RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterey, California, there was a record-breaking sale for any car at an auction when the GTO went for $44 million.
Former Microsoft executive Greg Whitten sold the car after owning it for several years. The model was known as the 3rd of 36 total models built by Ferrari. With its extensive racing history during the 1960s, the car had already made a reputation for greatness.
David MacNeil and the WeatherTech Ferrari GTO
Another private sale in 2018 saw a ’62 GTO sell for $70 million. The car was purchased by David MacNeil of Chicago, IL, the founder of WeatherTech, the auto accessory company.
There are also rumors of a separate private sale for somewhere around $52 million by collector Paul Pappalardo in 2013.
There are many reasons the ’62 GTO commands such incredible prices. One of the biggest reasons is the extremely limited supply of only 36 models, all of which are still accounted for.
It’s a timeless design by Giotto Bizzarrini and one of the last classic front-engine cars before the GT’s evolved to mid-engine placement.
Another interesting fact that keeps prices screaming for the GTO is that it was the last of its kind as a road racer. Meaning that you could drive the car to the track, race the car, and drive it back home. No need for a track-only racecar, the GTO did it all.
Shortly after ’62 models rolled off the production line, racing would evolve along with its tighter regulations and safety requirements. It was a true road racer sports car.
#1 – 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, $142 Million
One of two prototypes, the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe is now the most expensive car to ever sell. The name comes from the chief engineer and creator, Rudolf Uhlenhaut.
The Mercedes-Benz company sold the car out of its own museum to begin the Mercedes-Benz Fund. The fund was started to establish scholarships and support young people working on actions toward a more sustainable future.
Only Two Mercedes 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes
So if one of the two cars in existence sold for $142 million, where is the other car? It’s still owned by Mercedes and will remain in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
From the Mercedes automaker website, they describe the car as, “an unrivaled vehicle that exceeded the technical possibilities of its time.”
Most Expensive Cars – Modern Supercars Only
Now it’s time for the supercars. The hypercars. The modern-day rocket ships on wheels. With each new year a new crazy, bonkers, extravagant, lightening fast rig is produced and sold, shattering records.
Check out this list of the most expensive cars from the modern-day hypercar era. Your head is sure to spin with amazement.
But check the list often, because these pricey supercars might not be on the list in a year or two. The quest for the most exclusive, costly, fast, and expensive cars will never end.
#21 – Rolls-Royce Phantom, $460,000
#20 – Lamborghini Aventador, $560,000
#19 – Ferrari Laferrari, $1.4 million
#18 – Koenigsegg Regera, $2 million
#17 – Pagani Huayra BC, $2.5 million
#16 – Mercedes-AMG ONE, $2.7 million
#15 – Aston Martin Valkyrie, $3 million
#14 – Koenigsegg Jesko, $3 million
#13 – Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport, $3.3 million
#12 – Lykan HyperSport, $3.4 million
#11 – Lamborghini Sian, $3.6 million
#10 – Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300, $4.3 million
#9 – Bugatti Divo, $5 million
#8 – SP Automotive Chaos, $6.4 million
#7 – Pagani Codalunga, $7.4 million
#6 – Maybach Exelero, $8 million
#5 – Bugatti Centodieci, $9.6 million
#4 – Rolls-Royce Sweptail, $12.8 million
#3 – Bugatti La Voiture Noire
#2 – Pagani Zonda, $23.6 million
#1 – Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, $30 million
Why Are Used Cars So Expensive Now?
So now you know the most expensive cars to ever sell at auction. And you know the top 21 most expensive modern supercars in the world. You even have a link to a diecast scale model of each supercar.
But you still might be wondering, why are used cars so expensive right now? A combination of factors has boosted used car prices recently. Here are the primary reasons.
- A global chip shortage
- Supply chain disruption in general due to factories shutting down during the pandemic.
- Increased consumer demand after a global shutdown.
- Low inventory and inventory shortage drove up prices for any cars available on car lots.
- Higher prices for commodities and raw materials used to build cars have increased the prices for new models. Higher prices for new models also raise prices for used cars resale values increase.
Attic Capital – Writer, Editor, and Lifelong Collector
I would love to connect with you, so don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know more about your passion for collecting.