The 5 Most Expensive Cars Ever Sold at Auction

Or, what $38 million will get you in horsepower

By The Editors

The 5 Most Expensive Cars Ever Sold at Auction
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18 March 2016

There are cars for slogging through a 40-mile round-trip office commute.

There are also cars that are not meant to be driven. More like ... worshiped.

True collector cars command some serious coin, our research will show.

Consider: Jerry Seinfeld sold his Porsche collection for a cool $22 million earlier this month. And that wouldn’t even get close to our list. Herein: the five most expensive cars ever sold at auction. Praise be.

RM Auctions Sotheby's

5. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 N.A.R.T. Spider: $27,500,000
(2013 RM Auctions, Monterey, CA)

This truly special single-owner rarity was actually driven on a regular basis, even though only 10 were built. Self-made millionaire and North Carolinian Eddie Smith got it straight from the Ferrari factory and held onto it for decades even after multiple offers to buy, letting it pass from his hands to his son after he died in 2007. It sat for years unused until his son decided it was time to let his dad’s beloved ride sell at auction for charity (how nice). This rare convertible version of the 275 GTB had a N.A.R.T. (North American Racing Team) designation and commanded $27.5 million when RM’s Pebble Beach auction dropped the gavel.


RM Auctions Sotheby's

4. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM: $28,050,000
(2015 RM Sotheby’s - New York, NY)

This ultra-rare racing gem had the “Works” designation in that it was crafted to be one of Enzo Ferrari’s racing weapons of choice — a machine built to win. The racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio (considered by many to be the world’s greatest race car driver of all time) helmed it in the 1956 Mille Miglia. It set multiple records when it sold in 2015: it was the most expensive car sold that year, the priciest ever sold by RM Sotheby’s, and the highest price ever earned by a car in New York City. The two-seat open-air racer with a red, yellow and blue paint scheme is Ferrari racing embodied.


Bonhams

3. 1964 Mercedes-Benz W196 F1 Silver Arrow: $29,600,000
(2013, Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed - West Sussex, UK)

This dedicated race car is the one German fly in the Italian ointment and bucks the Ferrari trend. It seems Fangio has the magic touch on this Teutonic speedster since this rather worn and unrestored Merc W196 Grand Prix race car was also piloted by him. It’s one of only 10 still in existence (out of a mere 14 made), and the only post WWII version in private ownership. When it was sold in 2013, it still had road grime on it and cosmetic blemishes from its illustrious racing days. Apparently not washing it contributes to its authenticity.


Artcurial

2. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti: $35,700,000
(2016 Artcurial - Paris, France)

This one’s all about racing history as well. The 335 S was first driven by British racing icon Peter Collins in the 1957 Sebring 12 Hours and then by Wolfgang von Trips in the Mille Miglia endurance race. The car’s long racing history is what commanded the high price, along with the the vehicle’s rarity and beauty. It’s cracked the Merc Silver Arrow’s record-breaking sale just two years later. Only four of these were built, and this one spent 40 years in the hands of a French collector. When it went up for sale, all hell broke loose.


Bonhams

1. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta: $38,115,000
(2014, The Quail - Monterey, CA)

It’s the mother of all high-priced auction cars and further proof in the pudding that vintage Ferrari race cars dominate the auction blocks. The 250 GTO reigns supreme, and this one was built to race in the 1962 FIA World GT Championships. Ferrari was victorious and also took the same event in 1963. Everything about this car was original at the time of auction, and it was the most raced 250 GTO ever made, lending to the massive price paid by some really lucky fellow. We’ll see if he ever parts with it.

— Amos Kwon

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