Since the first batch of mass-produced Model T in the early 1900s, cars have been a crucial part of our lives. It is not debatable that having a car is not a luxury but a must in this day and age. They destroy the atmosphere but help us with our time management (yay!). Fortunately, the world is moving towards a more eco-friendly generation of cars but no one can deny that classic cars have their own personas, a certain charisma, so to speak. Didn’t you ever look at a beautiful car and say “Who is driving these cars?” or “How much money did they pay?” Well, with this list of the most expensive cars ever auctioned, you get to know both of the answers.
1994 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’
In 1995, five McLaren cars finished LeMans Grand Prix as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, winning the race. To honor this incredible performance, McLaren built 5 F1 LMs, and later 64 road-legal ones with LM-Specifications that increased performance. After some time, McLaren turned 2 original F1 cars into the LM-Specification model. One of them was sold for 19 million dollars in 2019 by RM Sotheby’s Auction House.
1963 Aston Martin DP215
Built for the LeMans as a prototype, the 1963 D9215 was one-of-one. It broke the speed record at LeMans reaching 300 kph during the race before having a malfunction. In 2018, Sotheby’s Auction House and Aston Martin started a partnership and as a token of this partnership, Aston Martin renovated the DP215 and put it into the auction. The auction house sold the car for 21 million dollars which is another record as it became the most expensive Aston Martin car ever auctioned.
1955 Jaguar D-Type
One of the best racing cars that ever competed in the LeMans, the Jaguar D-Types were monsters that won three races in a row. This D-Type won the 1956 LeMans and was sidelined after the race and never competed again. In 2016, it was sold for 21 million dollars making it the most expensive British car ever auctioned.
1935 Duesenberg SSJ
One of the classiest cars of all time, once even owned by Gary Cooper, the 1935 SSJ originally had humble beginnings. It was slightly weaker than other Duesenbergs and it cost only 5 thousand dollars. However, once it became a Hollywood sensation, until WWII, the car reached an all-time popularity. In 2018, the Gooding Auction House sold the SSJ, the one that is previously owned by Gary Cooper, for 22 million dollars which made it the most expensive American car ever auctioned.
1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale
One of the rarest Ferraris, as only 3 of them exist, the 275 GTB was a stylish and powerful race car. It had its engines in the front which was unprecedented for race cars of the time. Its unique design gave the car an edge over the American cars at races. Consequently, the 275 GTB finished first in his own class and third in the LeMans. While 2 of the cars are currently in different collections, this one was sold by RM Auction House for nearly 26.5 million dollars in 2014.
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider
This NART Spider has a story that makes it even more unique than it already is. In an attempt to make Ferrari popular in the American market, the lead designer Luigi Chinetti made a convertible Ferrari. However, the demand was low, and only 10 were ever made. This Spider belonged to one Eddie Smith. Eddie was an orphan and he left the orphanage he grew up in with only 8 dollars in his pocket. He went on to become a successful businessman and was able to buy one of the Spiders. After his death, his son put it in an auction where it sold for 27 million dollars in 2013. A record for vintage Ferraris at the time.
1956 Ferrari 290 MM
After losing the World Championship to Mercedes Benz in 1955, Enzo Ferrari decided to make changes to win the next one. The engineer Vittorio Jano suggested turning back the clock to the classic V-12 engine. Enzo convinced the best driver at the time Juan Manuel Fangio to use the car in the 1956 championships. Fangio drove the number 600 labeled car and became 4th overall. The car he used was sold in 2015 for 28 million dollars.
1954 Mercedes-Benz W196
Built for the ’54 and ’55 Formula 1 seasons, winning 9 of 12 races and 2 championships in the process, Benz W196 became a legend of the roads under Fangio, who Enzo Ferrari would recruit in the following year. This car was highly important for the German community since this was the first time Germany was allowed to compete in F1 after WWII. Benz knew that a victory at F1 would help the image of postwar Germany, so they got to work. This champion car was put in auction in 2013 and sold for 29 million dollars.
1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti
The 355 Sport Scaglietti is one of the rarest Ferraris ever since only 4 exist. It was originally a racing car and won lots of races and trophies during its stint in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The car had champion drivers like Mike Hawthorne and Stirling Moss. In 2016, the Artcurial auction house in Paris sold one for 35 million dollars.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
In 1962, the lead designers at Ferrari showed the boss Enzo Ferrari their new nameless racing car which went on to become the 250 GTO. Only 36 were ever made and the buyers had to gain Enzo Ferrari’s approval. In 2018, an ex-Microsoft worker put his 250 GTO on auction and the RM Sotheby’s sold it for 48 million 405 dollars. The auctioned 250 GTO was the third one out of the 36. The 250 GTO would hold the record for the most expensive car for 4 years.
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe
The most expensive car ever auctioned is the 1955 Mercedes SLR Coupe. It was auctioned on 5 May 2022 by RM Sotheby’s Auction House for 142 million dollars. At first, the 300 SLR was a racing car, hence the name SLR (Sport Light-Racing), and the SLR Coupe was its road-legal version. Only 2 were ever made. While one is displayed in a museum in Germany, the other one was in the auction. The SLR Coupe currently holds the record for the most expensive car ever auctioned.