What’s the most expensive car ever sold? Ferrari dominates the list, but Mercedes, Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Alfa Romeo are also included to make up the current list.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
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, where 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 hadn’t looked back. The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO is currently the most expensive car ever sold.
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.
Another private sale in 2018 saw a ’62 GTO sell for $70 million. The car was purchased by David MacNeil of Chicago, IL, who was the founder of auto accessory company WeatherTech. There’s 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. Shortly after ’62 models rolled off the production line, racing would evolve along with it’s tighter regulations and safety requirements. It was a true road racer sports car.
1957 Ferrari 335 S
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 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, Ferrari’s, and the Le Mans race.
At his castle in France, he turned nearby fields into a racetrack for his cars. Enzo Ferrari, the Ferrari brand founder, was once asked if he would create a Ferrari museum. He responded that such a museum already exists at Pierre Bardinon’s house in France. It was one of the highest complements Bardinon could have received.
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.
1954 Mercedes-Benz W196
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 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, lightweight chassis design, and an all-independent suspension. 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 10 most expensive cars ever sold.
1956 Ferrari 290 MM
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 it’s race appearances. In 1857 drivers Eugenio Castellotti, Masten Gregory and Luigi Musso piloted the car to victory in the Buenos Aires 1000.
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider
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 Ferrari 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.
1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale
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 Mans 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.
Of the other 2 CTB/C’s 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 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 10 most expensive cars ever sold.
1956 Aston Martin DBR1
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.
1955 Jaguar D-Type
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 a 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 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 Mans 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.
1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider
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.
1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider
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 underwent a complete restoration at the Ferrari facilities in Maranello. During the restoration all mechanical systems were fully re-built, 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.
Not only is the 250 GT SWB California Spider included in the 10 most expensive cars ever sold, but the model was also immortalized into pop culture history when it appeared in the 1980’s movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
Tracking the Most Expensive Car Ever Sold
This list is going to change many times in the future; there is no doubt about it. What is the most expensive car ever sold? That depends on when you ask the question and how many inside sources you have to the ultra-high-end collector car market.
Many of the most expensive cars ever sold will go unreported. These are private transactions most people will never hear about. Either the seller or the buyer wishes to keep many of the most expensive car sales confidential for various reasons.
Ralph Lauren owns a Bugatti 57SC Atlantic, valued at around $40 million. If that car were to sell today in a private transaction, it would be nearly impossible to determine the sale price. So relying on auction results is one of the only ways to track the most expensive car ever sold.
Ferrari 488 Spider Takes Us Back In Time
The Ferrari 488 Spider takes us back in time to a simpler day. A time when the luxury carmaker unveiled its very first mid-rear engine v8 Berlinetta. This was the late 1970s when Ferrari launched the epic 308 GTB.
Over thirty years later, Ferrari re-opened the history books and created the Ferrari 488 Spider, an amazing machine worthy of the “little prancing horse” logo on the side. With the Ferrari 488 Spider, not only did Ferrari build one of the most impressive supercars in the world, but, as they do perhaps better than any other carmaker, they paid tribute to their rich history.
Understanding the Ferrari 488 Spider
Acknowledging Ferrari’s legacy and heritage is clearly evident in the 488 Spider. To better understand the 488 Spider, we have to go back and look at perhaps the most iconic Ferrari of all-time, the 308 GTS Quattrovalvole, otherwise known as, The Magnum PI Ferrari.
Released for the first time in 1975, the 308 was an instant classic because of the sharp contrast in design from the Dino 246, which it was replacing. The car was such a huge success; it gained enough attention to be cast as a co-star alongside Tom Selleck in one of the greatest T.V. shows of the 1980s, Magnum P.I.
The Ferrari 488 Spider was born from the legendary Ferrari 308 GTS. Not only did the 308 GTS make television history through the early 1980s by starring in the smash hit, “Magnum P.I.” but its earth-shattering design has captivated enthusiasts for decades. The proliferation of Ferrari 308 collector forums throughout the internet proves this car is in rarefied air and has never been more popular than it is today.
Incredible Ferrari History
It’s so much fun to learn about the history of Ferrari. However, if you only focus on the classic Ferraris of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, you’ll miss out on one of the company’s most impressive components; the innovation happening right now.
Recently released models show the amazing engineering packed inside each car year after year, and it’s easy to miss if you’re just simply discovering the collector models.
For example, the Ferrari 488 Pista and Pista Spider will blow your mind with over 700 horsepower and 0 to 100 times in just over five seconds. I can’t even do justice to describing the recently released Ferrari LaFerrari, or known as “The Ferrari.”
It really deserves its own book to thoroughly explain just how unbelievable this machine is. But I can give you a teaser, it’s almost 1,000 horsepower, valued at over a million dollars, and only a few hundred were produced.
Ferrari 488 Spider Creator Flavio Manzoni
I cannot go much further discussing the Ferrari 488 Spider without mentioning Flavio Manzoni. Who is this man, Flavio? He’s an architect and automobile designer and Senior Vice President of Design at Ferrari. Flavio Manzoni is responsible for dozens of the finest supercar designs of the last twenty years, including the 488 Spider.
Not only was the Ferrari 488 Spider created from the tip of his pen, but also the epic LaFerrari, the Ferrari California, the F8 Tributo, and countless others. When Flavio Manzoni says, “Ferrari always redefines the limits of the possible,” it’s easy to believe the company is more focused on this goal than it’s ever been. By striving to align form and function, Flavio Manzoni is proving his greatness year after year.
It’s fascinating to listen to one of the world’s greatest car designers discuss his thoughts behind supercar form and function. With Flavio Manzoni at the helm of Ferrari design, past, present and future are integrated into each move the company makes. Designing “spaceships” and honoring legacy – a balancing act by the master, Flavio Manzoni.
Ferrari 488 Spider Prices and Values
Over the last five years, the values of the Ferrari 488 Spider have dropped slightly. This might be part of an overall trend in both collector car values and supercar values in general, or it might be more specific to the Ferrari 488 Spider. It’s anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t change the fact that the 488 is an incredible creation.
Car guru Doug DeMuro reviewed the Ferrari 488 Spider, and you can get a sense of why this car is amazing by watching the end of his video. As he takes the 488 on the road, you can see his smile as he punches the gas.
You can watch his entire video here. There’s not much more evidence required than to watch the expression on someone’s face as they drive an amazing car. The 488 is an absolute thrill machine. Case closed.
Although values for the Ferrari 488 Spider have been sliding in recent years, It doesn’t change the fact that the rig is an absolute beast, and one of the premier supercars on the market today. It’s anyone’s guess and remains to be seen if the 488 Spider will age through the years and reach epic collector status one day. Image credit – Classic.com
It’s hard to predict how certain supercar models will age and if they will become epic collector pieces worthy of ultra-rich investors and the museum floor or decline in value and slowly drift into indifference.
This debate is what makes collector cars so much fun. Culture and trends, supply and demand, fear and greed constantly shift over time, creating new superstars. Thirty years from now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ferrari 488 Spider as one of the most desirable supercars from this era.
Don’t Take Your Eye Off the Ball
Many collector car enthusiasts might miss some of the most amazing new models produced over the last few years. I’m definitely guilty of taking my eye off the ball when it comes to new releases coming out of Ferrari year after year, but when I take a few minutes to catch-up, I’m always blown away by the pace of supercar evolution.
Not only that, Ferrari is dedicated and intent on embracing its epic history by attributing classic features to the latest designs.
I’m afraid the amount of thought and retrospection that goes into producing the current lineup of Ferrari models is sometimes underappreciated. It’s safe to say the car company seldom makes a move unless it’s strictly aligned with its storied history and legacy of the last eighty years.
Ferrari 488 Spider, The New T.V. Star
In a tribute to the 308, the reboot of the 80s hit show, Magnum P.I., features the Ferrari 488 Spider. Intense debate surrounds this spin-off show, as Magnum “purists” and fans of the Tom Selleck version will most likely argue there can never be anything as good as the original. But change is constant and persistent. It might be beneficial to embrace the evolution of pop culture, sports cars, and television re-makes.
The same way Ferrari is constantly ‘tipping its cap’ to its rich and storied history of performance, power, and elegance, any television show reboot of a classic that also pays tribute to the icons is approved in my book. I only ask that you approach the Magnum re-boot with an open mind and admire the original throwback appearances. Consider adding this show to your Netflix queue; it could bring some enjoyment and nostalgia.
Paying close attention to the past and honoring the best aspects of a simpler time is an art form. Ferrari understands this concept perhaps better than anyone.
1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III Examination
The 1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III was the last model from a ten-year span where Rolls Royce doubled-down on delivering luxury and performance.
The 1965 Rolls Royce defined a time period when the art of arriving in style and comfort was mastered.
One of the most well-known brands globally grew its image from a tiny luxury carmaker to an aspirational mode of transportation.
Rolls Royce Silver Cloud
The Rolls Royce Silver Cloud models were developed from 1955 to 1966 following the Silver Dawn series.
The goal was to combine performance and incredible style as a symbol of ultimate driving luxury. Rolls Royce produced around 6,000 Silver Cloud models over the span of those eleven years, with three different variations.
The Silver Cloud I, which ran for four years from 1955 – 1958, was a four-door, four-speed automatic transmission saloon car.
Heads turned to gaze at the Silver Cloud, not only from the body style but also from the interior features like air conditioning and power steering. The Silver Cloud I included luxury amenities and had the ability to reach a top speed of over 100 mph.
Rolls Royce produced the Silver Cloud II models from 1959 – 1962 with a few notable upgrades. Silver Cloud II focused on power with an upgraded engine. The new six-liter V8 increased top speeds to nearly 115 mph.
Again, Rolls Royce delivered outstanding power but presented interior features not all that common at the time with the introduction of electric-powered windows.
Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III
Finally, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III was the third and final version of the Silver Cloud series. Exterior design changes were minimal, but the Silver Cloud III would become a signature for Rolls Royce as the ten-year focus on delivering luxury began to pay off.
After its introduction at the Paris Motor Show in 1962, roughly 2,000 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III vehicles were produced from 1963 – 1966.
The newly introduced Silver Cloud III models featured a more powerful V8 engine and a much lighter overall weight. Although the weight reduction helped the Silver Cloud III with performance relative to the Silver Cloud II, it still weighed 2 tons, thanks to the extensive wood trim finishes and heavy sound deadening carpets on the interior.
At the time, the 1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III was recognized as the pinnacle of luxury driving. If your goal was to get noticed arriving in an extreme style, this was your mode of transport.
Celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and John Lennon owned Silver Clouds and helped raise the carmakers brand to new heights during the 1960s. If you were looking for a prestigious accolade, you wanted to arrive in a Silver Cloud.
1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III Values
One big differentiation between Silver Cloud models is whether you want a Rolls Royce or a Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe by Mulliner Park Ward.
These words might not mean anything to you now, but they are the difference between about $300,000 in value at current Silver Cloud prices. Mulliner Park Ward was a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce and a well-known coachbuilder from Bedford Park, West London.
Recently, a 1965 Silver Cloud Drophead Coupe by Mulliner Park Ward sold at a Sotheby’s auction with a final hammer price of $450,000.
When regular Silver Clouds would sell for 100k – 150k, the Mulliner versions are much more valuable. The recent Sotheby’s sale featured a Mulliner in excellent condition, which was one of only 52 left hand drives to exist.
The car was originally purchased by Curt Strand from Southern California in December of 1965.
For comparison, a left-hand drive, 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III standard sedan in good condition was recently purchased for $63,500.
This classic car had 45,000 original miles, a 6.2l V8 engine, separate front seats, tan leather, power windows, and silver exterior paint. What makes the difference in values is the standard model vs. the Mulliner Drophead Coupe. Nearly a $400,000 difference between these two recent sales.
Even with a standard Silver Cloud in spectacular condition, values don’t go beyond $200,000. The Mulliner Park Ward, however, has reached values of nearly $700,000.
Rolls Royce Beginnings
Henry Royce and Charles Rolls founded Rolls-Royce Limited in 1906. After being dissatisfied with his Decauville automobile, Henry Royce decided to create his own car from scratch. The two partners met in 1904 and very quickly struck up a partnership to sell the first Rolls Royce models featuring 2, 3, 4 & 6 liter cylinder vehicles.
After a few years of experimentation, the 40/50 was developed for Claude Johnson, who was instrumental in the Rolls Royce venture.
The epic model 40/50 was such a popular car; it remained in production for an amazing 22 years before getting replaced by the Phantom I.
Charles Rolls would die just a few years later, in 1910, during an airplane accident. Henry Royce continued on, and Rolls Royce eventually purchased struggling carmaker Bentley in 1931. Just four years later, the company debuted the Phantom III.
This would be the last model car that Charles Rolls would participate in before his death in 1933. Rolls Royce would continue building cars until the beginning of World War II when it ceased production.
To support the war effort, Rolls Royce began developing Merlin engines for The Royal Air Force.
The Spirit of Ecstasy
The Rolls Royce logo is one of the most distinguishable features of any car, and the original idea for the logo is based on Eleanor Thorton, the English actress, and model.
The flying lady is still included on every model even to this day. And who could ever forget the carmaker’s legendary slogan, “The quality remains, long after the price is forgotten.”