It will probably come as no surprise that a Ferrari is currently the most expensive car ever sold at auction. But which Ferrari is it? An exclusive model built specially for the Pope? A 4 time winner of the biggest races on Earth? Find out right here.
Whether you love a car with a rich racing pedigree or just like to collect the rarest models ever made, you’ll find something on this list here for you. Here are the most expensive cars ever sold at auction.
What makes them so expensive?
Rarity isn’t the only reason some of these cars are the most expensive ever sold. There are a variety of contributing factors that can affect the value of a car when it goes up for auction.
Low production volumes are a popular way for manufacturers to inflate the value of a car. The prestige and exclusivity of limited edition cars increases their desirability. For example, only 106 MacLaren F1s were ever made. Ferrari is by far the most notorious company for using this tactic. Specifically built to target the collector market, they built the Ferrari 250 GTO in 1963. Only 39 were ever made, making it one of the rarest production cars.
Another contributing factor is whether the car has won prestigious races. Specific cars with a strong motorsport history, with wins in races like Le Mans and F1 World Championships, are more valuable than their losing counterparts.
Cars associated with famous people also sell better, even if they are relatively dull. The single best example of this is the white 1993 Ford Bronco, which was involved in the chase between O.J. Simpson and the LAPD, which sold for $75,000 in 2004, almost twice its original value, ten years after the event.
Other factors affecting the value of a car at auction include demand, aesthetic design, condition of the car and, of course, the all important nostalgia factor.
10 most expensive cars ever sold at auction
10. $18,400,177: Ferrari 375-Plus Spider Competizione (1954)
The Ferrari 375-Plus Spider Competizione was built exclusively for the Ferrari works racing team. Featuring a front-mounted 4.9-litre V12 engine, it finished second at the Mille Miglia in 1954 with Umberto Maglioli at the wheel. The car topped £11million at the Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in 2014.
Auction: Bonhams, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2014
9. $18,500,000: Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider (1961)
After spending years languishing in a collection along with 100 other cars, this classic Ferrari accounted for over half of the $28m the collection ultimately sold for.
Auction: Arcturial, Paris, 2015
8. $19,800,000: Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring (1939)
The Lungo Spider is arguably the Italian definition of a grand tourer . It’s practical, comfortable and a beautiful looking car. Complete with a 2.9-litre straight-eight engine with dual supercharging, this particular 8C is one of only 12 Touring Spiders ever made.
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Auctions, Monterey Sale, 2016
7. $21,780,000: Jaguar D-Type (1955)
This first production D-Type Jag ticks a lot of the expensive car boxes, the chassis number (XKD 50), serves as testament to its rarity. If that wasn’t all, this particular D-Type won the Le Mans in 1956. It’s finished in Scottish blue, with white stripes and roundels, as part of the Ecurie Ecosse team colours.
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Auctions, Monterey Sale, 2016
6. $26,400,000 – Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale by Scaglietti (1964)
This special edition Ferrari was the first to feature independent rear suspension as part of its challenge to take down the American competition at the 1965 Le Mans. With aluminium bodywork, a lighter chassis and a tuned V12 engine offering an extra 70bhp, the 275 GTB/C Speciale was significantly lighter and faster than a standard 275 GTB road car. These upgrades proved effective, as the 375 GTB/C Speciale beat its rivals – the Shelby Cobra Daytona and Ford GT40.
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Auctions, Monterey Sale, 2014
5. $27,500,000 – Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spider (1967)
The NART Spiders were a response to the desire for open-topped sports cars in the American market. This fully-restored Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider was one of only 10 in the world when it sold for £16million in 2013. This particular model was featured in the film The Thomas Crown Affair alongside Steve McQueen.
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Auctions, Monterey Sale, 2013
4. $28,050,000 – Ferrari 290 MM (1956)
This Ferrari held several records upon its sale. It was the expensive car sold in 2015, the most expensive car sold in New York City, and remains the most expensive car RM Sotheby’s has ever sold. It was built for Juan Manuel Fangio to race in the Mille Miglia in 1956. It’s one of only four of its kind in existence, and is attached to names like Alfonso de Portago and Wolfgang von Trips, who raced it over the course of the car’s lifetime.
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Auctions, New York City, 2015
3. $29,600,000 – Mercedes-Benz W196 (1954)
This Mercedes-Benz W196 Grand Prix car was driven by 5-time Formula One world champion Juan Manuel Fangio. The car was sold in authentic condition with visible blemishes and a thin layer of grime as if it had just rolled off the track.
Auction: Bonhams, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2013
2. $35,700,000: Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti (1957)
This Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti has an impressive race history. From a first race in the Sebring 12 Hours, through to the Mille Miglia and Le Mans, you name it, this car has done it. Beautiful, successful and exceedingly rare, this is a worthy number 2.
Auction: Artcurial, Paris, 2016
1. $38,115,000: Ferrari 250 GTO (1962)
This 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta is the most expensive car ever sold at auction, at the time of writing. It was built to contest the 1963 FIA World GT Championships and the 250 GTOs won that year as well as in the following 1963 event.
Only 39 250 GTOs were built by Ferrari and this particular 62-63 example is one of the best maintained and most raced of them all.
Auction: Bonhams, The Quail, 2014
These are the most expensive cars ever sold at auction. Each of them has something very special about them. Whether that is the design, rarity or heritage, each one is well worth their weighty price tags. Which car on this list would you buy and why? Let us know on our Facebook page!