Ferrari and Mercedes Benz cars are the most expensive automobiles sold at top classic car auctions but many marques achieve prices over a million dollars.
Classic and rare exotic cars trade at multi-million-dollar prices. Privately, Ferraris are rumored to have sold for over $70 million, but public auctions remain the best indicator of what these rare cars are worth. A 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO is the most expensive car ever sold at public auction followed by another 1962-3 Ferrari 250 GTO – the only two 250 GTOs offered a public auction for about a decade. Ferraris are over-represented on lists of the most expensive cars in the world but even marques that usually see cars trading for much lower figures may see the best-of-marque samples sell for well over a million.
The Most-Expensive Cars Ever
The highest price ever paid at public auction for a car is $48,405,000 for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2018 sale. This increased the world record auction price for a car from the $38,115,000 paid for a 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO at the Bonhams Quail Lodge Sale during the 2014 Monterey classic car week.
The third most expensive car ever in dollar terms was the 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport sold for $35,711,359 at the Artcurial Paris Rétromobile 2016 sale. It is the highest price paid for a car at a public auction held outside the USA.
The highest price ever paid at public auction for a purely road-going car is $ 27,500,000 for a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider by Scaglietti. This result was achieved at the RM Auctions sale in Monterey in 2013.
The record prices for a new car sold at public auction are $10,000,000 for the 210th 2017 Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta and $7,000,000 for the 500th Ferrari LaFerrari. Both cars were sold in RM Sotheby’s auctions after being donated by Ferrari for charity.
Most Expensive Classic Cars by Auction Year
The highest prices achieved at classic car auctions in recent years were:
- 2021: $20,465,000 for a 1995 McLaren F1 – See Top 10 for 2021
- 2020: $12,681,550 for a 1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports – See Top 10 for 2020
- 2019: $19,805,000 for a 1994 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’ – See Top 10 for 2019
- 2018: $48,405,000 for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – See Top 10 for 2018.
- 2017: $22,550,000 for a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 – see Top 10 for 2017.
- 2016: $35,711,359 for a 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport – see Top 10 for 2016.
- 2015: $28,050,000 for a 1956 Ferrari 290 MM – see Top 10 for 2015.
- 2014: $38,115,000 for a 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO – see Top 10 for 2014.
- 2013: $29,650,095 for a 1954 Mercedes Benz W196R Formula 1 – see Top 10 for 2013.
- 2012: $11,770,000 for a 1936 Mercedes Benz 540 K Spezial Roadster – see Top 10 for 2012.
- 2011: £16,390,000 for a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – see Top 10 for 2011.
See Wikipedia for a detailed list (not always up to date) with adjusted prices.
Top Prices for Classic Cars by Marque
The following are the top prices ever paid at public auction for classic cars of various marques. For Ferrari and Mercedes, the top prices for both the most expensive road and racing cars are given, as well as the GTO homologation special for Ferrari. All prices are nominal – i.e. prices paid at the time of auction and including premiums. Non-US dollar transactions converted to $ at time of sale.
|Year||Car||$ Price||Auction House||Year||Auction|
|1939||Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring||19,800,000||RM Sotheby’s||2016||Monterey|
|1956||Aston Martin DBR1||22,550,000||RM Sotheby’s||2017||Monterey|
|1929||Bentley “Birkin Blower”||7,867,000||Bonhams||2012||Goodwood Festival of Speed|
|1957||BMW 507 Roadster||5,031,683||Bonhams||2018||Goodwood Festival of Speed|
|1934||Bugatti Type 59 Sports||12,681,550||Gooding||2020||London|
|1967||Chevrolet Corvette L88||3,850,000||Barrett-Jackson||2014||Scottsdale|
|1937||Delahaye 135 Competition Court Torpedo Roadster||6,600,000||RM||2014||Amelia Island|
|1935||Duesenberg SSJ||22,000,000||Gooding||2018||Pebble Beach|
|1962||Ferrari 250 GTO||48,405,000||RM Sotheby’s||2018||Monterey|
|1957||Ferrari 335 Sport||35,711,359||Artcurial||2016||Paris|
|1967||Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider by Scaglietti||27,500,000||RM||2013||Monterey|
|1968||Ford GT40 Lightweight||11,000,000||RM||2012||Monterey|
|1939||Horch 853A Special Roadster||5,170,000||RM||2012||Monterey|
|1931||Invicta 4 ½ Litre S-Type Low Chassis Sports||1,771,583||Bonhams||2020||Paris|
|1955||Jaguar D-Type||21,780,000||RM Sotheby’s||2016||Monterey|
|2015||Koenigsegg One:1||4,631,767||Bonhams||2019||Bonmont Geneva|
|2014||Lamborghini Veneno Roadster||8,337,182||Bonhams||2019||Bonmont Geneva|
|1955||Maserati 300S Sports Racing Spider||6,646,787||Bonhams||2013||Goodwood Festival of Speed|
|1995||McLaren F1||20,465,000||Gooding||2021||Pebble Beach|
|1954||Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Racing Single-Seater||29,650,095||Bonhams||2013||Goodwood Festival of Speed|
|1936||Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster||11,770,000||Gooding||2012||Pebble Beach|
|1934||Peugeot L45 Grand Prix Racers||7,260,000||Bonhams||2017||Bothwell Collection|
|1913||Packard Twelve Individual Custom Stationary Coupe by Dietrich||4,180,000||RM Sotheby’s||2015||Andrews Collection|
|1971||Porsche 917K||14,080,000||Gooding||2017||Pebble Beach|
|1907||Renault Type AI Vanderbilt Racer||3,332,500||Bonhams||2020||Amelia Island|
|1912||Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost “The Corgi”||7,343,000||Bonhams||2012||Goodwood|
|1962||Shelby 260 Cobra “CSX2000”||13,750,000||RM Sotheby’s||2016||Monterey|
|1914||Stutz 4E Bearcat||2,920,000||Gooding||2021||Pebble Beach|
|1938||Talbot Lago T150-C SS||7,150,000||RM||2013||New York|
|1924||Vauxhall 30-98 OE-Type Wensum||1,658,510||Gooding||2020||London|
For a More Detailed Description of Cars Sold for $10 Million Plus
- Cars Sold for Over $20 Million – The Most-Expensive Cars Ever
- Cars Sold for $15 to $20 Million – all Italian but not only Ferraris
- Cars Sold for $12 to $15 Million – including the most-expensive American car ever
- Cars Sold for $10 to $12 Million – a mixed bunch of great marques