Ferrari and Mercedes Benz cars are the most expensive automobiles sold at top classic car auctions but many marques record 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 rare cars are worth. A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé sold for $143 million at an auction in 2022 to become by far the most expensive car in the world. The previous two record holders were a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO and 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 $143 million for the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé somewhat unexpected sold by the Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart at an invitation-only auction arranged by RM Sotheby’s.
The previous record was $48,405,000 paid 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 fourth 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.
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:
- 2022 YTD: $143,000,000 for a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé — See Top 10 for 2022
- 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. 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|
|1968||Ford GT40 Lightweight||11,000,000||RM||2012||Monterey|
|1950||Gordini Type 18S||1,121,400||Artcurial||2022||Paris|
|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|
|1955||Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé||143,000,000||RM Sotheby’s||2022||Mercedes-Benz Museum|
|1913||Peugeot L45 Grand Prix Racers||7,260,000||Bonhams||2017||Bothwell Collection|
|1934||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|
|1998||RUF Turbo R Limited||2,040,000||Gooding||2022||Amelia Island|
|1962||Shelby 260 Cobra “CSX2000”||13,750,000||RM Sotheby’s||2016||Monterey|
|1914||Stutz 4E Bearcat||2,920,000||Gooding||2021||Pebble Beach|
|1937||Talbot Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Coupe||13,425,000||Gooding||2022||Amelia Island|
|1967||Toyota Shelby 2000 GT||2,535,000||Gooding||2022||Amelia Island|
|1924||Vauxhall 30-98 OE-Type Wensum||1,658,510||Gooding||2020||London|
|1991||Williams FW14 Formula 1||4,222,060||RM Sotheby’s||2022||Monaco|
Most Expensive Cars by Country of Origin
The most expensive cars ever sold at public auction by country of origin are:
|Country||Car||Price ($)||Auction House||Auction Date||Auction|
|France||1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrop Coupe||13,425,000||Gooding||2022||Amelia Island|
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé
|143,000,000||RM Sotheby’s||2022||Mercedes-Benz Museum|
|Italy||1962 Ferrari 250 GTO||48,405,000||RM Sotheby’s||2018||Monterey|
|Japan||1967 Toyota Shelby 2000 GT||2,535,000||Gooding||2022||Amelia Island|
|Sweden||2015 Koenigsegg One:1||4,631,767||Bonhams||2019||Bonmont Geneva|
|UK||1956 Aston Martin DBR1||22,550,000||RM Sotheby’s||2017||Monterey|
|USA||1935 Duesenberg SSJ||22,000,000||Gooding||2018||Pebble Beach|
More on the Most Expensive Cars Ever Sold
- The Most Expensive Cars of All Time – $10 Million Plus for a full listing of cars selling for more than $10 million at public auctions.
- Cars Sold for Over $20 Million – The Most-Expensive Cars Ever
- Cars Sold for $15 to $20 Million – Mostly Italian (but not only Ferraris) and a Brit
- Cars Sold for $12 to $15 Million – including the French record holders
- Cars Sold for $10 to $12 Million – a mixed bunch of great marques