A Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa tops the list of the most expensive cars sold at auction in 2011. A 540K Spezial Roadster was the most expensive Mercedes sold ever.
2011 was a good year for very rare vintage cars sold at auction. A 1957 Ferrari 250 TR Testa Rossa became the most expensive car ever bought at auction when it was sold for over $16 million. A 1937 Mercedes Benz 540K Spezial Roadster sold at almost $10 million is similarly the most expensive Mercedes car ever. The top ten-list of the most expensive cars sold at auction in 2011 is dominated by four Ferraris and three Mercedes cars. The ten most expensive cars sold in 2011 together made $69 million with the “cheapest” one still fetching well over $4 million.
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The Top Ten Most Expensive Cars Sold at Auction in 2011
The list of the top ten most expensive cars sold at public auctions in 2011 as calculated by classic-car-tax:
|Make & Model||Year||Price USD||Auction House|
|1||Ferrari 250 TR||1957||$16,390,00||Gooding&Co|
|2||Duesenberg Model J Roadster||1931||$10,340,00||Gooding & Co|
|3||Mercedes Benz 540K Spezial Roadster||1937||$9,680,00||RM Auctions|
|4||Ferrari 250 SWB Competizione||1960||$5,280,00||RM Auctions|
|5||Mercedes Benz Typ S 26/180||1927||$5,040,000||Gooding & Co|
|6||Ferrari 375 MM||1955||$4,795,000||RM Auctions|
|7||Mercedes Benz 540K Spezial Roadster||1939||$4,620,000||RM Auctions|
|8||De Dion Bouton Dos-a-Dos||1884||$4,620,000||RM Auctions|
|9||Talbot-Lago T150C SS||1938||$4,475,000||RM Auctions|
|10||Ferrari 340 Mexico||1952||$4,290,000||RM Auctions|
The top-ten list of most expensive classic cars auctioned in 2011 contains four Ferraris and three Mercedes Benz cars. Racing and elegant cars did well while rarity and historic significance clearly contributed to high prices too.
The oldest car was the 1884 steam-driven De Dion while the newest was a 1960 Ferrari. The only post-Second World War cars on the list were the four Ferraris. The Duesenberg was the only non-European car on the list although all ten are assumed to have been bought by American collectors.
1957 Ferrari 250 TR – Most-Expensive Car Ever Sold at Auction
The 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, chassis no 0666TR, and coachwork by Scaglietti was the first Testa Rossa ever built and served as prototype for the Testa Rossa racing cars that would compete very successfully around the world in following years. It features a 300 BHP 2,953 cc V-12 engine coupled to a 4-speed gearbox.
Following its most recent restoration, the Ferrari 250 TR won First in Class at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
1931 Duesenberg Model J Roadster – Elegant American Automobile
The 1931 Duesenberg Model J Long-Wheelbase Coupe is an early Frank Herseay masterpiece. This one-off with coachwork by Walter M Murphy was built to the specifications demanded by its original owner Captain George Whittel Jr. Many consider it the most elegant American automobile ever made.
Following restoration work – the car never suffered major damage or alterations – the Duesenberg in 1996 was awarded Best in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. In 80 years, the car covered only 12,500 miles on its own wheels.
Most-Expensive Mercedes Benz Car Ever – 1937 540 K Spezial Roadster
The most expensive Mercedes-Benz car ever sold at public auction (record broken a year later in 2012!) was this 1937 Mercedes 540 K Spezial Roadster in the most desirable bodywork configuration with high doors, a long tail, and covered rear spare tire. Only 25 540 K Spezial Roadsters were ever built and in this specification, only three are known to have survived. The car has a 5,401 cc supercharged inline eight cylinder engine. It was available at the time in New York from an importer for $14,000 – 40% more expensive than the most expensive regular Cadillac V-16 available in the USA at the time. This specific model was originally built for a clothing store owner in Argentina but has been owned by American and Australian collectors since the 1960s.
As befits the most expensive Mercedes in the world, this car has won several accolades including amongst other in 2010 the Best of Show award and “Best Mercedes” at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and in 2004 First in Class and “Best Mercedes” at Pebble Beach.
1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione
Only 42 alloy competition Berlinettas were ever built and this specific model was the fourth last of the series. It was fully restored by Ferrari in in 2008. Prior to completion of the restoration, but with the costs of restoration included in the deal, the Ferrari sold in 2007 for $2,8 million, allowing the price to almost double in four years.
This particular car was driven by Jo Schlesser and André Simon to a third place overall in its first race.
1927 Mercedes-Benz Typ S 26/180
The 1927 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/180 Sportwagen with coachwork by Sindelfingen is a very rare pre-Second World War Mercedes Benz sports car. Dr Ferdinand Porsche designed its chassis while it is powers by a massive supercharged 6,789 CC inline 6-cylinder engine producing 180 BHP. The S-Type was a hugely successful racer in Europe but this particular model was originally sold to a New York gentleman who used it for daily transportation. Following restoration, it won Second in Class at Pebble Beach in 2004, beaten only by the 540 K Special Roadster – the most expensive Mercedes Benz ever sold at auction.
1955 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta
The 1955 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta with body work by Pinin Farina was the last of only ten 375 MM Berlinettas ever built.
This specific car was never raced and has been meticulously restored.
It features a 340 hp 4,522 cc, V-12 engine straight from Formula 1.
1939 Mercedes Benz 540 K Special Roadster
The 1939 Mercedes 540 K Spezial Roadster features teardrop fenders, no running boards, and a covered spare. Of the 540 K line, only 419 cars were built between 1936 and 1939 with the 25 Spezial Roadsters the rare and the most desirable.
This particular car detoured via the Soviet Union – a Russian general somehow picked it up from Berlin at the end of the Second World War and his family sold it to a Western collector during the 1960s.
1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout
The top ten most-expensive cars sold at auction in 2011 are all unique but even by these high standards the De Dion Bouton stands out. It is not only the oldest car in the group but also the only steam-driven model.
It claims to be the oldest running motorcar in the world – a few older ones in museums have not been driven for years. In 127 years, it had only four careful owners.
The De Dion steam car won the world’s first automobile race in 1887 from Paris to Versailles and back. (It was the only car to turn up.) More recently, it participated in the London-to-Brighton race and completed the course during the 1996 centennial race.
The Very Elegant 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C SS
The 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Coupé by Figoni et Falaschi is one of only eleven Second Series “New York” cars ever built by Talbot. It never suffered an accident or major structural damage and is considered one of the best examples of its genre. The car “disappeared” during the Second World War but afterwards long belonged to the Belgian royal family.
Following restoration, the Talbot-Largo took home three awards at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, including the J.B. and Dorothy Nethercutt Most Elegant Closed Car Trophy, First in Class J-2: European Classic Closed and the Art Center College of Design Award.
1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico
The 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico is one of only four 340 Mexico Coupés ever built.
The 340 Mexico was specifically adapted to compete in the 1952 La Carrera Panamericana race, with this model driven by Luigi Chinetti and Jean Lucas finishing third (behind two Mercedes cars). Its impeccable condition and racing history allows it entry into the best classic car competitions including the Mille Miglia.
© All photos by RM Auctions and Gooding & Co auction houses.