Car auctions are usually places where people go to buy a car for cheap. However, among rich circles, an auction is where you go to buy the most expensive ones. Similar to paintings, rare cars are an investment – their history, rarity, and condition all being taken into account when assessing their value. Unsurprisingly, such cars can fetch prices in the tens of millions.
Below, we list down the most expensive cars sold at auction.
8. 1955 Jaguar D-type
Sold for: $21,780,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s, Monterey 2016
Among the most noteworthy race cars ever devised, the 1955 Jaguar D-type was created specifically for the Le Mans 24 hours race – and race it did. Its design was ahead of its time, pioneering the integration of many elements of aviation. These aspects, coupled with its near pristine condition when it got auctioned in 2016, allowed to command a final price of $21,780,000. Contrast this with its value back in the 60s, where it regularly changed hands at a bargain price of $3000-5000.
Sold for: $22,550,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s, Monterey 2017
1956 Aston Martin DBR1 can easily boast of having one of the most acclaimed racing histories. It is only one of the three cars of the 50s to win the Le Mans 24 Hours as well as the World Sports Car Championship both in the same year. In addition, it held the record for the most World Sports Car Championship victories until it was surpassed by the Ferrari 250TR. Owing to this and its overall rarity, when the gavel dropped at a 2017 auction, the final price reached was $22.55 million, making it the most expensive British car ever sold.
Sold for: $26,400,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s, Monterey 2014
The 1967 Ferrari 275 was a line-up of road-legal high-end luxury cars with a performance that rivaled that of an F1 car. The 275 GTB/C Speciale was a total overhaul of the base 275 GTB, designed to be more lightweight and give out a stronger performance. It was also the last competition Ferrari to be fitted with wire wheels.
Only 3 of them were ever built. Thus, it was a very rare occasion for one to be put up on auction. Unsurprisingly, it was quick to fetch a price of $26.4 million.
Sold for: $27,500,000
Buyer: Lawrence Stroll
Auction: RM Auctions, Monterey 2013
Described as “the most satisfying sports car in the world” and probably the rarest in the 275 line-ups, the GTB/4 NART Spider was specifically designed by Carrozzeria Scaglietti for the American car dealer, Luigi Chinetti.
At the time brought for just $8000, in a 2013 auction, it sold for a record price of $27.5 million to the Canadian fashion mogul Lawrence Stroll. Interestingly, the previous owner, the orphan-turned multimillionaire Eddie Smith, had purchased the car back in 1968 and since then have been driving it regularly until his death in 2007, after which it passed over to his estate.
Sold for: $28,050,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s, New York City 2015
The 290 MM was another one of Enzo Ferrari’s creation developed specifically to compete in the Mille Miglia (1956 edition), which is why it was given “MM” as its acronym. The car featured a 3.5 V12 engine, giving out 320 horsepower and granting a top speed of 170 miles per hour.
Four of these cars were built, and two of them finished first and fourth in the race respectively. The latter, which was driven by race car driver Juan Manuel Fangio was sold at a 2015 auction for a stunning price of $28,050,000. Another one was three years later, for the price of $22 million.
Sold for: $29,605,000
Auction: Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed 2013
While the name Mercedes-Benz is now largely associated with luxury, way back in the 50s, it also has a big name in competitive racing. Featuring an innovative, well-engineered design, the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 managed to win 9 of the 12 races it competed in. However, its crash at the 1955 Le Mans racing tournament spelled the end of its racing career as well as that of the German car maker’s own foray in racing for another next three decades.
In a 2013 auction, one of the W196 was sold at a record price of $29,605,000 at an auction to a private buyer. Three aspects primarily contributed to its high value. First, being its illustrious racing history, the second its stunning craftsmanship and lasting with it being one specimen left in private hands.
Sold for: $35,700,000
Buyer: Lionel Messi
Auction: Artcurial Paris 2016
1957 Ferrari 335 S was a direct response from car maker Enzo Ferrari to the Maserati 450S. The car featured a 4.5 L V12 engine, giving it a top speed of 190 miles per hour and a massive 400 horsepower – completely unheard of during that time.
Only four of such cars were ever made, and one of them was destroyed in a tragic racing accident. Unsurprisingly, given its rarity and racing pedigree, the remaining cars were bound to fetch a high price. At a 2016 auction in Paris, one of the cars was sold at a price of $35,700,000, purchased by none other than the famous soccer player Lionel Messi.
Sold for: $38,115,000
Buyer: Fabrizio Violati Estate
Auction: Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction 2014
When the car was first launched back in the early 1960s in the United States, it cost just $18,000. However, just 36 of these cars were ever made, and the buyers have to be personally approved by Enza Ferrari himself. Because of the cars’ rarity and illustrious racing history, they become highly prized among collectors, with them in a few decades commanding a price in the millions.
In a 2014 auction, one of these cars was sold for an incredible $38,155,000 to the estate of a late Italian businessman and car collector, Fabrizio Violati. This makes 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta the most expensive car ever sold at an Auction. However, in a private sale, four years later, another of the car was sold at a staggering $70 million, purchased by billionaire David McNeil.
Which historic car would you buy if you have the money? Share your picks with us in the comments below. Be sure to share this article with other car enthusiasts who may also enjoy reading it.