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Most expensive cars sold at auction

These are the most valuable cars to ever go under the hammer

Classic cars are some of the most sought after purchases among the world’s super rich. Not only are these cars beautiful to look at and thrilling to drive, they can be sound financial investments, too, as values tend to head upwards over time. It’s because of this that the most expensive cars in the world tend to be rarest and most desirable classics. When models in this esteemed category come up for auction, gigantic sums of cash invariably change hands.

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It’s not just looks that attract the big buyers, either, as motorsport pedigree is also a common theme with cars at this very top end of the market. Historic track and rally cars attract some of the biggest bids, particularly if they’ve claimed a few trophies down the years. 

Here we list the top 10 most expensive cars to ever change hands at auction. There are some examples of cars being sold for even higher prices privately, but the prices in these sales cannot be verified so we haven’t included them here. These are effectively the world’s most expensive cars having commanded the highest verifiable prices ever paid for automobiles of any description.  

Most expensive cars ever sold at auction

Read on to find the most expensive cars ever sold at a verified auction, listed in reverse order below.

10. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale by Scaglietti

  • Auction: RM Sotheby's, Monterey, 2014
  • Price: $26,400,000
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This £15.7m Ferrari is even rarer than the fabled 250 GTO. It's one of only three Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale models built by the Maranello marque in late 1964 and early 1965 to homologate its new 275 GTB race car. The Ferrari 275 GTB was designed and built to challenge the Ford GT40 and Shelby Cobra Daytona at Le Mans in 1965. It was the first Ferrari to feature independent rear suspension and represented the evolution of the successful 250 series cars, which included the iconic 250 GTO.

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With aluminium bodywork, a lighter chassis and a tuned V12 engine (with an extra 70bhp) mounted lower in the car to bring the centre of gravity closer to the track, the 275 GTB/C Speciale was significantly lighter and faster than a standard 275 GTB road car. This particular 275 GTB/C Speciale never saw competitive action on the track, but one of the other cars took third place overall at Le Mans in 1965.

9. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spider

  • Auction: RM Sotheby's, Monterey, 2013
  • Price: $27,500,000

The fully-restored Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spider is one of only 10 ever built. It sold for £16million in 2013, aided by a detailed history which included an appearance with Steve McQueen in the film The Thomas Crown Affair.

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The NART spiders were the brainchild of car importer Luigi Chinetti who recognised the desire for open-topped sports cars in the American market. He requested a series of convertible 275 GTBs from Enzo Ferrari that carried the familiar NART (North American Racing Team) badge on the rear.

8. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM

  • Auction: RM Sotheby's, New York, 2015
  • Price: $28,050,000 

This ex-works Ferrari 290 MM sold in New York City, setting records for the most expensive car sold in 2015, the most expensive car sold in New York City, and the most expensive car RM Sotheby's had ever sold at the time. It was built for Juan Manuel Fangio to race in the 1956 Mille Miglia and went on to a distinguished career afterwards.

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It's one of only four of its kind and was raced by the likes of Alfonso de Portago and Wolfgang von Trips.

7. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196

  • Auction: Bonhams, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2013
  • Price: $29,600,000

This Mercedes-Benz W196 Grand Prix car was driven by five-time Formula One world champion Juan Manuel Fangio, a provenance which helped it to a £17.7million sale price at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013. The car was sold in ‘authentic’ condition with visible blemishes and a thin layer of grime as if it had just rolled off the track. You pay all that money and they don’t even run it through a car wash for you.

6. 1967 Ferrari 412P Berlinetta

  • Auction: Bonhams, the Quail, 2023
  • Price: $30,255,000
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The Ferrari 412P is certainly one of the prettier racing cars to ever hit the track, but it’s more than just looks that saw a bidder hand over more than $30,000,000 to become the latest owner of ‘0854’.

0854 refers to the chassis and engine number of this particular 412P, and this car boasts a number of qualities that are appealing to big-spending collectors. Its strong racing heritage saw it compete at Le Mans, Spa and Brands Hatch in 1967. A year later it then went on to secure wins at the Nuremberg 200 Kilometres, the Solituderennen, and the Swedish Grand Prix.

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After such a rigorous racing career, 0854 passed down through a number of wealthy collectors, and it eventually underwent a painstaking nine-year restoration. Perhaps best of all, though, is that this V12-powered vintage racer is fully road-legal – if the new owner is brave enough.

5. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti

  • Auction: Artcurial, Paris, 2016
  • Price: $35,700,000 

The impossibly curvy Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti pictured here has a racing history as long as your arm – and that's responsible for its place on this list. The car has competed in everything from the Sebring 12 Hours to the Mille Miglia and even Le Mans. Due to Euro/Dollar exchange rates, its exact position on this list is somewhat contentious – but it's a worthy contender nonetheless.

4. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO

  • Auction: Bonhams, The Quail, 2014
  • Price: $38,115,000
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This 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta became the most expensive car ever sold at auction in 2014, a record it held for four years. It was built to contest the 1963 FIA World GT Championships, which it went on to win.

Ferrari built just 39 250 GTOs, and this particular 62-63 example is not only one of the best surviving examples but also has a genuine racing pedigree.

3. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO

  • Auction: RM Sotheby's, Monterey, 2018
  • Price: $48,405,000
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The second Ferrari 250 GTO to appear on this list was sold at RM Sotheby's in Monterey in 2018.

This particular 250 GTO – chassis number 3413 GT – was owned for two decades by Ferrari enthusiast and vintage racer Dr Gregory Whitten before its 2018 sale. It was driven to the auction block by five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell – and the auctioneer opened bidding at a staggering $35million. Three bidders competed for the car over the course of ten minutes, with the final sum reaching $48,405,000.

2. 1962 Ferrari 330 LM 250 GTO by Scaglietti

  • Auction: RM Sotheby's, New York, 2023
  • Price: $51,705,000

It’s a Ferrari 250 GTO hat-trick as Sotheby’s 2023 New York sale saw yet another one of these coveted classics go for a truly staggering amount. Although it actually failed to meet the initial $60,000,000 estimate, this car’s huge value saw it listed in an art auction rather than an automotive one.

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The car in question is chassis number 3,765, which was the only GTO Tipo to be raced by Scuderia Ferrari. It was driven by Mike Parkes and Lorenzo Bandini at the 1962 24 Hours of Le Mans race, and also took a class win and second-place finish at the Nurburgring 1,000km in the same year. This 250 came onto the market after belonging to its previous owner for a  whopping 38 years.

1. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe

  • Auction: RM Sotheby's, Stuttgart, 2022
  • Price: $135,000,000 (estimated)

One of two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes, this car was sold at an exclusive, invite-only auction at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, for an incredible £135million. 

Incredibly, the starting bid for this German racer was higher than the second-place Ferrari 250 GTO's winning bid. Bought by a private seller, the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was named after its creator and chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who drove the car to European events. It was owned by Mercedes from new, covering only 3,756 miles in seven decades. 

While neither 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was raced, they did feature an upgraded 302bhp 3.0-litre straight-eight taken from the iconic two-time Grand Prix World Championship-winning W196 R, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio.

More of the world’s most expensive cars sold at auction

  • Ferrari 410 Sport - 2014, $23,000,000
  • Aston Martin DBR1 - 2017, $22,550,000
  • Ferrari 410 Sport Spider - 2022, $22,005,000
  • Ferrari 290 MM - 2018, $22,005,000
  • Duesenberg SSJ - 2018, $22,000,000
  • Jaguar D-Type - 2016, $21,780,000
  • Aston Martin DP215 - 2018, $21,455,000
  • McLaren F1 - 2021, $20,465,000
  • McLaren F1 LM - 2019, $19,805,000
  • Alfa Romeo 8C Lungo Spider - 2016, $19,800,000

Need a fast, accurate, free valuation on a car? Try our valuation tool...

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Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

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