2021 (mid-July): The most expensive cars sold at public auction in 2021 are a 1972 Matra MS670, a 2010 McLaren MP4-25A F1 racer, a 1955 Jaguar D-Type, and a 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster.
The list of the ten most expensive cars sold at public auction thus far in 2021 is led by three racing cars: a Le-Mans-winning 1972 Matra MS670, a 2010 McLaren MP4-25A driven by Lewis Hamilton, and a bright red 1955 Jaguar D-Type. The fourth most expensive car sold thus far in 2021 was a Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster that belonged to Carroll Shelby, while a further Cobra linked to Shelby is seventh. The oldest car on the list is a 1929 Duesenberg Model J while two Bugatti Type 57s and a Mercedes-Benz Spezial Roadster are from the 1930s. Remarkably, currently the list of the ten most expensive cars sold in 2021 included no Ferraris.
List of the Top Ten Most-Expensive Cars Sold at Auction in 2021
The 10 highest results achieved for cars sold at public auction thus far in 2021 were:
|Year||Car||Price ($)||Auction House||Auction|
|1||1972||Matra MS 670||6,921,446||Artcurial||Paris|
|2||2010||McLaren MP4-25A F1 Racer||6,741,384||RM Sotheby’s||Silverstone|
|3||1955||Jaguar D-Type||6,000,000||RM Sotheby’s||Arizona|
|4||1965||Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster||5,940,000||Mecum||Kissimmee|
|5||1929||Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Torpedo by Murphy||5,725,000||RM Sotheby’s||Amelia Island|
|6||1937||Bugatti Type 57 S by Corsica||5,678,842||Bonhams||London|
|7||1966||Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake||5,500,000||Barrett-Jackson||Scottsdale|
|8||1934||Mercedes-Benz 500/540 K Spezial Roadster||4,900,000||Bonhams||Amelia Island|
|9||1937||Bugatti Type 57 SC Tourer by Corsica||4,735,000||RM Sotheby’s||Arizona|
|10||1961||Aston Martin DB4 GT||3,777,280||Gooding||London|
Note: Include the auction premium. May include post-hammer deals and charity lots.
Most-Expensive Cars of 2021 Sold at Public Auction
The ten most expensive cars sold at public auction thus far in 2021 were:
1972 Matra MS670
The Matra MS 670, chassis 001, was driven to victory in the 1972 Le Mans 24 Hours race by Henri Pescarolo and Graham Hill ahead of a second Matra. Matra, and Pescarolo, would win the race in 1973 and 1974 too.
The car was kept in the Matra Museum but following an “unfavorable ruling” in a court case, 18 years after the company has closed, was offered for sale. It was presented in the configuration used in the 1973 race.
2010 McLaren Mercedes MP4-25A Formula 1 Race Car
A 2010 McLaren Mercedes MP4-25A Formula 1 single-seater race car sold for £4,836,000 ($6,741,384) at the special single-lot RM Sotheby’s Silverstone auction during the annual British Grand Prix weekend in mid-July 2021. The auction took place while the McLaren circled the Silverstone track at race speed.
The McLaren MP4 was the first time ever that a Formula 1 car driven by Lewis Hamilton was offered for sale in a public auction. Lewis Hamilton drove this Mercedes-Benz-powered McLaren to victory in the Turkish Grand Prix in 2010. The result set a new record for a McLaren Formula 1 racing car.
1955 Jaguar D-Type
The top result at the RM Sotheby’s Arizona classic car auction in 2021, and the most-expensive car sold during the Scottsdale 2021 auction series, was $6,000,000 paid for the 1955 Jaguar D-Type, XKD 518.
It is one of only two (possibly three) D-Types delivered in a dramatic red livery. The first private owner was British racing driver Peter Blond, who purchased the car from motorsport icon Bernie Ecclestone. Blond raced XKD 518 until 1957, with highlights including a 5th Overall at the Aintree 100, a top 10 finish in the Goodwood Trophy, and a win at the Snetterton National Race. After Blond sold the Jaguar in 1957, XKD 518 had several prominent owners including famed racer Ms. Jean Bloxham and Led Zeppelin band manager Peter Grant.
1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster
A 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster sold for a remarkable $5,940,000, as the top result at the Mecum Kissimmee 2021 collector car auction. The 427 Cobra was Carroll Shelby’s own Cobra Roadster and remained in his possession from new until sold by his estate in 2016. It has since been restored to its original, factory-specification condition.
The Shelby is one of only five 427 Cobras originally finished in charcoal gray but that is really of no significance — it is the long Carroll Shelby ownership record that drove the price. A regular Cobra 427 Roadster in the same sale fetched $1,375,000.
1929 Duesenberg Model J ‘Disappearing Top’
A 1929 Duesenberg Model J ‘Disappearing Top’ Torpedo Convertible Coupe by Murphy sold for $5,725,000 as the top result at the RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2021 classic car auction. Although far below the $22 million model record 1935 SSJ, the result was well above the presale estimate and one of the highest Duesenberg results ever.
This beautifully restored Model J is one of two examples built with polished and brushed bare aluminum coachwork and the sole intact survivor. With a well-known history from new, 2199 passed through the hands of a few Southern California owners through its early life and in 1951, it was purchased by a long-time Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club member and remained as his prized possession until A recent restoration by RM Auto Restoration resulted in a Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance award win and an Amelia Island Concours Best in Class award.
1937 Bugatti Type 57S by Corsica
A 1937 Bugatti Type 57S, which had been off the road and out of sight for the past 50 years, sold for £4,047,000 ($5,678,842), as the top result at the Bonhams Legend of the Road Sale 2021 in London. This 57S was built on a special lightweight chassis previously used on one of three Bugatti works 1936 Type 57G streamliner ‘tank’ sports cars which contested Grand Prix in 1936 and set high-speed records.
The Bugatti was presented in an exceptionally original condition with largely intact paintwork and original coachwork. However, it was an unfinished restoration project and although assembled, considerable work will be required to bring the Bugatti back to the road. It still achieved a remarkable million dollars more than the four-seater Tourer sold in Arizona in January.
1966 Shelby 427 Cobra Roadster Super Snake
The top result at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2021 collector car auction, which was postponed to March, was $5,500,000 paid for the only remaining 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake, CSX 3015. The Cobra was one of only 23 total 427 competition roadsters built. A year later it was transformed for racing legend Carroll Shelby into the Super Snake and reclassified as 427 Cobra Semi-Competition (S.C.).
The result at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2021 was exactly the same as what the car sold for at Scottsdale 2007 (!) but more than the $5,115,000 paid for the Shelby in a post-hammer deal at the 2015 Scottsdale auction.
1934 Mercedes-Benz 500/540K Spezial Roadster
A 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 / 540K (Factory Upgrade) Spezial Roadster sold for $4,900,000 as the top result at the Bonhams Amelia Island 2021 classic car auction. The car was discovered in a barn in Poland by two Swedish car hunters in the 1970s — although dismantled, it was complete, except for its fuel cap, and was subsequently restored to its former glory by its former custodian who owned it for more than 40 years. The Spezial was sold for charitable purposes in the Bonhams 2014 Mercedes Benz Sale in Stuttgart where it achievedr €3,105,000 million ($4.221,247 at the time of sale).
1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Tourer by Corsica
The second highest result at the RM Sotheby’s Arizona 2021 sale was $4,735,000 for a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Tourer by Corsica. The rare car is one of just over 40 Type 57S chassis produced, of which only 16 were fitted with open coachwork. Corsa fitted coachwork to only eight of which only two were the four-seater tourer bodies.
Adding the available “C” specification Roots-type supercharger early in the car’s life further raised the power output to 200 hp, enabling a top speed of 120-mph and making the 57SC the fastest French production car of the period.
The five most-expensive cars sold at public auction in 2020 were all Bugattis and it appears the classic brand may perform well in 2021 too.
1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT
A 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT sold for $3,777,280 as the top result at the Gooding Geared Online European Sporting & Historic Collection classic car auction based in London, UK. It is one of only 75 DB4 GTs originally built, of which only 30 were specified in left-hand drive.
The DB4 GT at Gooding retained its matching-numbers engine per factory records and benefited from a no-expense-spared restoration by marque specialist RS Williams Ltd. in 2020. The quality of the restoration probably explained most of the price difference to the $1,632,860 paid for a DB4 GT only a few hours earlier at the Artcurial Parisienne sale in Paris, however, an uncompleted restoration-project 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT sold for $2,771,365 at Bonhams in London only two weeks later.
Million-Dollar-Plus Cars Sold at Public Auctions in 2021
Thus far in 2021, at least* 83 cars were sold at public auctions for over a million dollars. (*Definitions vary, results include auction premium, charity lots, and post-hammer deals announced in first published results.)
- January — 17: 7 at Kissimmee (Mecum), 10 at Scottsdale / Arizona (Bonhams 1, Gooding 1, RM Sotheby’s 8)
- February — 13: 7 at Paris (Artcurial 5, RM Sotheby’s 2), 6 at London (Gooding 4, Bonhams 2)
- March — 6: 1 at Glendale (Mecum), 5 at Scottsdale (5 Barrett-Jackson, including 2 charity lots)
- May — 24: 5 at Gooding (Geared Online), 12 at Amelia Island (4 Bonhams, 8 RM Sotheby’s), 7 Indianapolis (Mecum).
- June — 17: 4 at Milan (RM Sotheby’s), 3 at Geared Online UK (Gooding), 2 at Bonmont (Bonhams), 3 at Las Vegas (Barrett-Jackson), 4 at Liechtenstein (RM Sotheby’s), 1 at RM Sotheby’s Open Roads Europe (online).
- July — 6: 3 at Goodwood (Bonhams), 1 at Silverstone (RM Sotheby’s), 1 at The Market (Bonhams online), 1 at Monaco (Artcurial)
In the battle of the auction houses:
- 28 – RM Sotheby’s
- 13 – Gooding & Co
- 15 – Mecum
- 13 – Bonhams
- 6 – Artcurial
- 8 – Barrett-Jackson
- 0 – Silverstone
- 0 – Worldwide Auctioneers
- 0 – Russo and Steele
The list takes the published results of the following auctions into consideration:
- January: Kissimmee (Mecum), Scottsdale Arizona (Bonhams, Gooding, RM Sotheby’s, Russo and Steele, Worldwide)
- February: Paris (Artcurial, RM Sotheby’s), London (Gooding, Bonhams), Online-Only: RM Sotheby’s Open Roads
- March: Paris (Bonhams), Glendale (Mecum), Scottsdale (Barrett-Jackson), Online-Only: RM Sotheby’s Open Roads
- April: Houston (Mecum), Los Angeles (Bonhams), Monaco (Bonhams), RM Sotheby’s Open Roads
- May: Online-Only: Gooding Geared Online, Amelia Island (Bonhams, RM Sotheby’s), London (Bonhams), Indianapolis (Mecum).
- June: Tulsa (Mecum), Milan (RM Sotheby’s), Geared Online UK (Gooding), Geneva (Bonhams), Las Vegas (Barrett-Jackson), Liechtenstein (RM Sotheby’s), Open Roads Europe Online (RM Sotheby’s).
- July: Goodwood Festival of Speed (Bonhams), Silverstone (RM Sotheby’s), The Market (Bonhams Online), Monaco (Artcurial)
The next major classic car auctions include:
- July: Orlando (Mecum),
- August: Monterey Week (Bonhams at Quail Lodge, Gooding at Pebble Beach, Mecum, RM Sotheby’s)
- September: Dallas (Mecum), Houston (Barrett-Jackson), Goodwood Revival (Bonhams), Auburn (RM Sotheby’s)
- October: Las Vegas (Mecum), Chicago (Mecum), Hershey (RM Sotheby’s), St Moritz (RM Sotheby’s)
- November: London (Bonhams), Guikas Collection at Paul Ricard (RM Sotheby’s)
- December: Kansas City (Mecum), London (Bonhams)