The Most Expensive Classic Cars in the World
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UPDATED: Jun 24, 2022
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There’s nothing quite like the classics. While today’s cars have the speed, design, great engine performance and all the extras, the classics have that vintage feel and appeal that drive car aficionados crazy. When some of the most memorable classic cars hit the auction blocks, it should come as no surprise that the wallets come out and the heavy hitters engage in bidding wars that lead to price tags that’ll leave you nothing short of speechless.
With timeless models from names like Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Ford, a ten million dollar price tag is not unheard of in auction circles. In fact, the most expensive cars are known to go for more than 15 million dollars when all is said and done, if they are in excellent condition.
Updated list (2016) – Most Expensive Cars Sold at an Auction
|Aug 12 2014||1962||Ferrari 250 GTO||$38,115,000|
|Feb 5 2016||1957||Ferrari 335S||$35,711,359|
|Jul 12 2013||1954||Mercedes Benz W196||$29,600,000|
|Dec 10 2015||1956||Ferrari 290 MM||$28,050,000|
|Aug 17 2013||1967||Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spider||$27,500,000|
|Aug 16 2014||1964||Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale||$26,400,000|
|Aug 19 2016||1955||Jaguar D-Type||$21,780,000|
|Aug, 20 2016||1939||Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider||$19,800,000|
|Feb 6 2015||1961||Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider||$18,500,000|
|Jun 27 2014||1954||Ferrari 375-Plus Spider Competizione||$18,400,177|
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The following ten cars are notorious for having attracted some of the biggest and wealthiest heavy hitters, leading to the highest prices ever recorded in the classic car auction circle. Don’t expect to see these cards out on the road, as most traditional insurance companies wouldn’t offer standard insurance coverage for these particular cars.
1. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Racer – $29,496,308
Sold on: July 12, 2013
This Mercedes-Benz is the true king of classic cars. Despite its eye-appealing design and stunning top speed of 180 mph, it is its history that gives it its iconic status (and jaw-dropping price tag when in pristine condition). The car was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio, and was the winning car for two Grand Prix races. It is known as the first to use desmodromic valves and fuel injection developed by Mercedes engineers.
The record 29 million dollar sale that took place on July 12, 2013 was not the first time that this car changed owners. This 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Racer was previously owned by the Emir of Qatar, and before that, Friedhelm Loh.
2. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider – $27,500,000
Sold on: August 17, 2013
Coming on the heels of the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Racer sale, this 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider sold for 27.5 million dollars in August. The car can be credited to Ferrari’s North American importer, Luigi Chinetti. A car identical to this one was featured in “The Thomas Crown Affair.”
This particular car is just one of ten that were built, and the most recent sale was the first time the Ferrari had ever changed hands. It was purchased new by Eddie Smith Sr., a North Carolina businessman, and was never sold until it came up for auction in August.
The story is that Smith was a friend of Luigi Chinetti, which is how he became the lucky owner of this beautiful red car. Its rarity is one of the primary reasons for its unbelievable price tag, though there is no questioning the stunning beauty of its design.
3. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – $16,390,000
Sold on: August 20, 2011
Just a few years ago, the $16,390,000 hammer price of this car was considered to be unheard of among heavy hitter car aficionados. As mentioned, it has since been bested twice. However, it still is among the top 3 most expensive classic cars ever sold. This prototype competed in the Le Mans 24-hour race, giving it historical value to go along with its beautiful design and roaring speed.
1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa
4. 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Competizione Coupe – $12,812,800
Sold on: May 25, 2013
2016 has been a big year for classic car aficionados and auction houses. As the fourth car on the list, and 3rd most expensive to have been sold this year, the 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Competizione Coupe is an incredibly special car. It sports a V-12, and it was driven by Le Mans champions Mike Hawthorn and Nino Farina.
1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Competizione Coupe
5. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – $12,402,500
Sold on: May 17, 2009
Rounding out the top five most expensive classic cars ever sold is the sleek 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. The car was just one of 22 that were made, which is why it is considered of one of the most sought after cars on the market. The car features a black livery paint job, which distinguishes it from other Ferraris, and makes it look undeniably sleek.
6. 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster – $11,770,000
Sold on: August 18, 2012
7. 1960 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder Competizione – $11,275,000
Sold on: August 18, 2012
8. 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight Racer – $11,000,000
Sold on: August 17, 2012
9. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder – $10,894,400
Sold on: May 18, 2008
10. 1931 Duesenberg Model J LWB “Whittell” Coupe – $10,340,000
Sold on: August 20, 2011
Whether you prefer scarcity or overall design when shopping for ultra high-end classic cars, it’s fair to say that cars on this list appeal to any classic car aficionado. With the most recent sale of roughly 29.5 million dollars, it’s only a matter of time before a classic car sale eclipses the 30 million dollar mark.
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