The Most Expensive Car Sales In History [2024 Update]
— Updated on 29 December 2023

The Most Expensive Car Sales In History [2024 Update]

— Updated on 29 December 2023
Nick Kenyon
WORDS BY
Nick Kenyon

When it comes to the most expensive cars in the world, the sky really is the limit and that’s especially true when it comes to classic cars and vintage cars. Because while a luxury automaker might only make 30 units of a supercar, the nature of vintage cars means they’re even rarer and more historically significant, especially when they’re in perfect condition.

Sure, a brand new Rolls Royce Boat Tail might cost you close to the $48 million mark, but that’s less than a quarter of the amount someone paid for the most expensive car classic car of all time. As a comparison, the fellow British Aston Martin Valkyrie, another of the most expensive cars in the world, is an almost modest $4.5 million.

The same goes for Italian supercars such as the Bugatti La Voiture Noire, the Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta, the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport, or the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport, all of which are eye-wateringly expensive cars compared to more regular luxury cars like Mercedes AMG, but when put next to the most expensive classic car sales, they don’t come close to challenging. The Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport price? The Bugatti Centodieci Price? A fraction of the cost of the best classic cars on the market.

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So while the latest hybrid supercar – likely equipped with carbon ceramic brakes, F1-width rear wheels and more electric motors than a drone factory – will have a top speed that’s light years quicker on a race track, the fact remains that the best classic cars are also the most expensive cars. Without further ado, let’s get into the most expensive car sales that have ever taken place.


The Most Expensive Car Sales In History

10. 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 – $36,869,915

Most Expensive Car

Kicking off this list is this remarkable Aston Martin DBR1 from 1956, which isn’t just a pretty face – it also packs a powerful punch on the racing circuit. Not only was it the first of just five DBR1’s ever produced, but it was also driven by Carroll Shelby himself and is regarded as the most important car in Aston Martin history.

This historical importance is thanks to it claiming the victory in the 1959 Nürburgring 1000km for Aston Martin, as well as being the sister car to the 1959 Le Mans winner that was driven by Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori. The generous curves of its body are painted in a classic green colour, while its details, both inside and out, are the most correct of any DBR1 that survives today.

Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Year sold: 2017
Price paid: US$22,550,000 (adjusted AU$36,869,915)


9. 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport – $38,937,788

Most Expensive Car

When this gorgeous red 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport was reported to be heading to Monterey Classic Car Week, the pulse of auto enthusiasts worldwide quickened as the vehicle had never appeared on the public market. Originally developed for the 3,373 km Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico, the 5.0 litre V12 of the Ferrari 410 Sport was created to challenge the top speed dominance of Cadillac and Oldsmobile.

Incidentally, the first time it was raced was in the February Palm Springs road races, where it was also driven by the one and only Carroll Shelby who took it to first place. While it wasn’t until the 2014 Monterey Classic had finished that the 410 Sport was sold, it remains one of the most exclusive cars in Ferrari history and the third most expensive sports car sold in 2014.

Auction house: Rick Cole Auctions
Year sold: 2014
Price paid: US$23,000,000 (adjusted AU$38,937,788)


8. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale by Scaglietti – $44,694,384

Most Expensive Car

This immaculate dark grey Ferrari 275 GTM/C might not have the same brightly coloured livery as some of its ultra-rare siblings, but this vehicle was the first of three Works Berlinetta Competizione cars that were ever built. As one of the most feared and frighteningly quick race cars in the world at the time, it is also rarer than its Ferrari 250 GTO siblings.

Boasting a 3.3-litre, V-12 engine under its bonnet, the Sergio Scaglietti-designed shape is breathtaking and its Borrani wire wheels were the very last of their kind to be seen on a Ferrari. It was clearly a very good year to sell historically important and expensive cars because this isn’t even the most expensive Ferrari that sold at auction in 2014.

Auction house: RM Auctions
Year sold: 2014
Price paid: US$26,400,000 (adjusted AU$44,694,384)


7. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider by Scaglietti – $47,313,721

Most Expensive Car

The 2013 sale of this 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider might just have whet the market’s appetite for the previous Ferrari 275 that sold a year later, because this Spider is a truly magnificent car. It was sold in 2013 as a single-owner vehicle, with a gentleman by the name of Eddie Smith Sr. having first picked up its keys in March of 1968, and is one of just 10 N.A.R.T. Spider cars in the world.

Purchased from the legendary Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti, Smith Sn. owned and adored this Ferrari for nearly four decades until his passing in 2007. This wasn’t just another Ferrari from a catalogue of expensive cars, but a classic car collector’s holy grail, with the proceeds of its sale going to charity.

Auction house: RM Auctions
Year sold: 2013
Price paid: US$27,500,000 (adjusted AU$47,313,721)


6. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM by Scaglietti – $47,427,606

Ferrari occupies a number of spots on this list of the most expensive cars and this Ferrari 290 MM by Scaglietti from 1956 is one of the best, originally built for Formula 1 racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio. The Argentinian racecar driver took this Ferrari to 4th overall while racing in the 1956 Mille Miglia, despite having no navigator and an open-topped car in torrential Italian rain.

Despite its lengthy racing career of eight years until 1964, it was never crashed and is one of the rarest vintage Ferrari’s with just four examples ever built. A true collector’s car, this 320bhp prancing horse would have had a blistering top speed at the time, even if today’s most expensive production cars would be even quicker.

Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Year sold: 2015
Price paid: US$28,050,000 (adjusted AU$47,427,606)


5. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Racing Single-Seater – $50,926,957

Another car driven by Formula 1 legend Juan Manuel Fangio, and a vehicle that looked to catapult Mercedes-Benze into the position as the most valuable car brand, was this W196R Formula 1 Racing Single-Seater from 1954. The Argentinian five-time world champion won his second championship in this car and is the only W196R to have won two Grand Prix races.

As the only W196R that remains in a private collection, there’s little wonder it achieves such a price when it went under the hammer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. A truly remarkable car that represented an important moment in the automotive industry, which isn’t likely to reappear on the market for decades to come.

Auction house: Bonhams
Year sold: 2013
Price paid: £19,601,500 (adjusted AU$50,926,957)


4. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti – $59,635,404

Most Expensive Car

Another Ferrari in the list of history’s most beautiful and expensive cars, this Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti from 1957 was built for one thing – racing. This was the same car that drove Ferrari to win the Constructors’ World Championship title in 1957 with a second place at Mille Miglia that year, as well as claiming victory in the Cuban Grand Prix of 1958.

With immaculate bodywork sculpted by the one and only Sergio Scaglietti, the French auction house that sold this magnificent car in 2016 described it as, “the most important Ferraris in the history of motor racing.” A genuine masterpiece.

Auction house: Artcurial
Year sold: 2016
Price paid: €32,100,000 (adjusted AU$59,635,404)


3. 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta – $64,526,510

Most Expensive Car

As the most pricey car sold in 2014, this Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta had been owned by the same family for nearly half a century before it arrived at the Bonhams auction. As one of just 39 GTOs that ever departed the famous Ferrari Maranello factory, it has enjoyed a history of motor racing in Europe during the 60s and even claimed second place during the 1962 Tour de France Automobile.

First owned by Frenchman Jo Schlesser, a daredevil and talented downhill skier who competed at both the first postwar Winter Olympics in 1948 and 1952, the car was raced once in 1962, before Schlesser’s friend and co-driver Henri Oreiller was killed in a crash and Schlesser was prompted to sell the vehicle. As one of the best-known Ferrari GTOs in history, it’s a dream car for anyone in the automotive world.

Auction house: Bonhams
Year sold: 2014
Price paid: US$38,115,000 (adjusted AU$64,526,510)


2. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO by Scaglietti – $77,256,400

By now, you’re probably getting the sense that Ferrari GTOs are some of the most expensive cars in the world and you’d be correct, especially when Scaglietti is involved. Not only are they rare, but when you consider their outrageous top speed and luscious shape, there’s little wonder Ferrari 250 GTO sports cars are extremely expensive cars.

This specific example was driven by Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi to victory in the 1962 Italian GT Championship and the main reason behind Ferrari’s victory in the 1964 International Championship. With more than 15 race wins to its name and widely recognised as the most authentic and original of all GTOs by Ferrari experts, this beautiful car is art on four wheels.

Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Year sold: 2018
Price paid: US$48,405,000 (adjusted AU$77,256,400)


1. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe Prototype – $210,020,272

In early 2022, one of just two Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe prototypes was sold by the German automaker to a private client, during an extremely exclusive auction at its museum in Stuttgart, Germany. While the other example will stay in the museum, this remarkable vehicle has been in Mercedes’ collection since it was built in 1955 and is regarded as the world’s first supercar.

Powered by a 3.0-litre straight-eight engine, this jewel in the crown of motoring history enjoyed a top speed of 290km/h after its design was based on the Mercedes W196 GP race car. While the price it sold for almost beggars belief, the funds will be put towards the Mercedes Benz Fund that seeks to provide children scholarships to study “environmental science and decarbonisation”.

Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Year sold: 2022
Price paid: US$142,000,000 (adjusted AU$210,020,272)

Which is No 1 expensive car in the world?

The most expensive car in the world is the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe Prototype, which sold for $210,020,272 in 2022.

Is there a car worth $1 billion dollars?

While there are cars that are tens and even hundreds of millions, currently there are no cars that are worth $1 billion dollars or more.

Which brand of car is most expensive?

There are many expensive car brands, including Ferrari, Bugatti, Aston Martin, Pagani, Koenigsegg and many more.

Nick Kenyon
WORDS by
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at) luxity.com.au

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