The most-expensive car ever sold at public auction is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that $48,405,000 was paid for at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2018 sale.
The highest price ever paid for a car in a public sale was $48,405,000 for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2018 classic car auction held on August 25, 2018, in Monterey, California, USA. The previous record price for a car sold at public auction was $38,115,000 paid for a 1962-3 Ferrari 250 GTO at the Bonhams Quail Lodge auction in 2014. Although Ferrari 250 GTOs are often rumored to sell for more privately – the latest claim is $70 million – these were the only two Ferrari 250 GTOs to have sold at public auction in recent years.
NOTE: The record of the most expensive car ever sold at auction increased to $143 million for the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé sold in 2022.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – The Most-Expensive Car Ever
A new world record was set for the most-expensive car ever sold at public auction when the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, chassis 3413, achieved $48,405,000 at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2018 classic car auction. The presale estimate was $45,000,000 to $60,000,000. This result obviously also set the new Ferrari marque record and is the highest price ever paid for an Italian car.
Only 36 Ferrari 250 GTOs were ever made and these are often seen as the holy grail of car collecting. Some experts consider the best 250 GTOs to be worth even more than the double Le Mans 24 Hours race winning 1964 Ferrari 275 P that is currently available through an RM Sotheby’s Private Sale.
Ferrari 250 GTOs are rarely offered for sale and it is very rare for a GTO to be offered in a public auction. The previous record setter – the 1962-3 Ferrari 250 GTO that sold for $38,115,000 at the Bonhams Quail Lodge auction in 2014 was the only other GTO ever sold for over $10 million at auction and the only other GTO offered at public auction for a decade.
Rumors of Ferrari 250 GTOs sold for fabulous prices in private sales abound. The latest claim is $70 million but these are of course impossible to verify.
The Record-Setting 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, chassis 3413, was the third of only 36 Ferrari 250 GTOs ever built. It is one of only four cars upgraded in period by Scaglietti to the more aggressive and successful Series II GTO/64 coachwork.
This 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO was driven by amongst others Phil Hill in preparation for the 1962 Targa Florio but it was most extensively and successfully raced in the 1962 season by privateer Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi. He raced the car in Italy to six overall victories and a further five class wins to take the Italian championship in 1962.
After the Ferrari 250 GTO was sold on by Lualdi-Gabardi, or actually his wife who officially owned it, it also finished first in class at Targa Florio in both 1963 and 1964. The GTO won its final race outright too – the 1965 Redex Trophy at Brands Hatch driven by David Piper.
The 1962 Ferrai 250 GTO is considered a very authentic and original GTO example. The sale included the original engine although the car has a 250 GTO specification engine fitted for daily use and vintage racing.
The Most-Expensive Cars Ever Sold
Only three cars have ever sold for over $30 million at public auction. All three were Ferraris:
1. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, chassis 3413, sold at RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2018 for $48,405,000 as the new world auction record holder.
2. 1962-3 Ferrari 250 GTO
The 1962-3 Ferrari 250 GTO, chassis 3851, sold at Bonhams Quail Lodge 2014 for $38,115,000 to take the world record price from a 1955 Mercedes-Benz W196R Silver Arrows Formula 1 racing car that Bonhams sold for $29,650,000 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale in 2013.
This Ferrari was the 17th 250 GTO produced and originally belonged to French privateer Jo Schlesser, who with Henri Oreiller as co-driver finished second in the 1962 Tour de France Automobile race. After Oreiller crashed fatally at Mothlhery, the car was rebuilt and thus often termed a 1962-3 car. Schlesser sold the car to Paolo Colombo, who achieved 12 class victories in 14 hill-climb races entered in 1963. This Ferrari also participated in may historic races leading to the claim that is might be the most raced GTO ever.
3. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport
The 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport sold for $35,711,359 at the Artcurial Paris Rétromobile Auction in 2016. This Ferrari sold for €32,075,200, which made it the most-expensive car up to then in euro terms – the $38-million GTO was “only” €28.5 million at the time of the 2014 auction.
On lap 30 at the 1957 Le Mans race, Mike Hawthorn drove the Ferrari 335 S at an average speed of 203.015 km/h – the first time ever that a lap here was done faster then 200 km/h. Its best finish as a Ferrari Works racing car was second at the Mille Miglia in 1957 although Stirling Moss drove it to victory at the Cuban Grand Prix as a NART entry.
The Most-Expensive Cars Ever
For more on the most-expensive cars ever – the exclusive but growing club of cars that achieved prices in excess of $10 million at public auctions – see also:
- List of the Most-Expensive Cars of All Time – $10 million minimum
- 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 most-expensive American car ever
- Cars Sold for $10 to $12 Million – a mixed bunch of great marques