The top 10 most expensive cars ever sold at auction

Money

What are the priciest cars on the planet?

If rumours are to be believed there is a new king of the crazy-priced cars with a 1963 Ferrari selling for a claimed $70 million (£52m).

But that was a private sale and the figure cannot be confirmed, whereas when a car goes under the hammer at auction the world knows what was paid for it.  

This list features the ten most expensive vehicles ever to sell at auction, according to auction search engine Barnebys. 

So, while going under the hammer doesn’t guarantee a car’s position at the top of the undisputed precious-metal charts – as more expensive prices for private sales of high-value motors are usually kept under wraps – it does mean that we definitely know they sold for that.

Most expensive car of all time? This 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO reportedly changed hands privately in the last few days for a sum of $70 million (£52m). If true, it would make it the priciest motor ever bought 

Most expensive car of all time? This 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO reportedly changed hands privately in the last few days for a sum of $70 million (£52m). If true, it would make it the priciest motor ever bought 

Most expensive car of all time? This 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO reportedly changed hands privately in the last few days for a sum of $70 million (£52m). If true, it would make it the priciest motor ever bought 

The most expensive car ever? Ferrari 250 GTO – $70m

The classic Ferrari that’s been dubbed the world’s most expensive car is a 250 GTO – the Holy Grail of classic vehicles.

The one of 36 examples built is steeped in motor racing history, having won the Tour de France in 1964.

Powered by a 3.0-litre V12 engine, this 300bhp racer is road legal and can rip from a standstill to 60mph in 6.1 seconds and is said to be capable of 174mph – if you’re brave enough to put it to the test.

Leading Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, who described the car as ‘one of the top three or four GTOs in the world’, confirmed it had been bought by an American businessman last week.

And he predicted the famed GTO could get pricier, with values expected to rise beyond $100 million in the next five years.

So how does it fare against the most expensive cars sold under the watchful eye of the general public at auction?

Barnebys has listed them. Here’s a run down of the current 10 most expensive models ever sold around the world:

10. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider – $18.5m

Sold by Artcurial in France in 2015

Just six Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spiders were ever made

Just six Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spiders were ever made

This one has never been restored - as you might be able to tell from the condition at the time of sale

This one has never been restored - as you might be able to tell from the condition at the time of sale

Just six Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spiders were ever made. This one has never been restored – as you might be able to tell from the condition at the time of sale

This is one of six Ferraris in the top 10, with the Italian brand unsurprisingly dominating the list.

It’s a stunning 1961 250 GT SWB California Spider that was previously owned by French cinema icon, Alain Delon, and had never been restored before going under the hammer.

9. 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider – $19.8m

Sold by RM Sotheby’s in the US in 2016

The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider is the oldest model to feature in our list. It might look huge by today's standards but it was the pinnacle of performance machines in the day

The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider is the oldest model to feature in our list. It might look huge by today's standards but it was the pinnacle of performance machines in the day

The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider is the oldest model to feature in our list. It might look huge by today’s standards but it was the pinnacle of performance machines in the day

The oldest car in the top 10 list is this Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider designed by Touring.

The Italian car’s design dated back to the 1920s, but in this 1939 guise was fully evolved into a full-blooded race car – the ultimate competition machine at the time. 

It was one of a number of vehicles in this list to feature in a recent TV show documenting car auctions. 

8. 1955 Jaguar D-Type – $21.8m

Sold by RM Sotheby’s in the US in 2016

This is the most expensive Jaguar ever sold. It's the first D-Type to win the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1955, hence why the bidding spiraled in 2016

This is the most expensive Jaguar ever sold. It's the first D-Type to win the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1955, hence why the bidding spiraled in 2016

This is the most expensive Jaguar ever sold. It’s the first D-Type to win the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1955, hence why the bidding spiraled in 2016

The D-Type was Jaguar’s purpose-built racer of the ’50s designed to tackle the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.

This car was the first of three D-Types to win at the iconic event for three consecutive years spanning 1955 to 1957.

This is Money covered the sale of the car back in 2016.

7. 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 – $22.6m

Sold by RM Sotheby’s in the US in 2017

The Jaguar is impressive, but the most expensive British-built car to sell at auction is this DBR1. It was the canvas for the Aston Martin DB car range, making it hugely significant 

The Jaguar is impressive, but the most expensive British-built car to sell at auction is this DBR1. It was the canvas for the Aston Martin DB car range, making it hugely significant 

The Jaguar is impressive, but the most expensive British-built car to sell at auction is this DBR1. It was the canvas for the Aston Martin DB car range, making it hugely significant 

A year after the Jaguar D-Type went under the hammer, this Aston Martin DBR1 racers pipped it on the priciest car leaderboard.

Like the Jag, it had a strong competition pedigree, winning the 1959 1000km of Nürburgring. However, it was its basis as a prototype for Aston’s successful DB series of cars that makes it standout as a prized piece of motoring history.

6. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale by Scaglietti – $26.4m

Sold by RM Sotheby’s in the US in 2014

Just three 275GTB/C Speciale Ferraris were ever created by coachbuilding specialists Scaglietti

Just three 275GTB/C Speciale Ferraris were ever created by coachbuilding specialists Scaglietti

The other two aren't likely to be made available any time soon

The other two aren't likely to be made available any time soon

Just three 275GTB/C Speciale Ferraris were ever created by coachbuilding specialists Scaglietti. The other two aren’t likely to be made available any time soon

This is where the onslaught of high-price Ferraris really kicks off. The 1964 275GTB/C Speciale is the first edition of a production run of just three examples that ever spawned from Italy.

The other two are said to be cherished by private collectors who have no intention to sell – that might explain why the interest was so high for this one four years ago.

5. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4/S N.A.R.T. Spider – $27.5m

Sold by RM Sotheby’s in the US in 2013

This 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4/S N.A.R.T. Spider became the most expensive model to be sold at auction when the hammer dropped in 2013. In the last five years it has fallen to fifth place

This 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4/S N.A.R.T. Spider became the most expensive model to be sold at auction when the hammer dropped in 2013. In the last five years it has fallen to fifth place

This 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4/S N.A.R.T. Spider became the most expensive model to be sold at auction when the hammer dropped in 2013. In the last five years it has fallen to fifth place

When this drop-top Ferrari went under the hammer in California in 2013 it became the most expensive car sold at auctions at the time. 

Reports at the time of the sale suggested the winning bidder was billionaire Canadian fashion entrepreneur Lawrence Stroll.

Just 10 examples were ever made. 

4. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM by Scaglietti – $28m

Sold by RM Sotheby’s in the US in 2015  

The first of two Juan Manuel Fangio-driven racers is this beautiful 1956 Ferrari 290MM. Yes, it's an absolute beauty

The first of two Juan Manuel Fangio-driven racers is this beautiful 1956 Ferrari 290MM. Yes, it's an absolute beauty

The first of two Juan Manuel Fangio-driven racers is this beautiful 1956 Ferrari 290MM. Yes, it’s an absolute beauty

The 1956 Ferrari 290 MM, chassis 0626 was built for Formula One racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio as the Italian brand looked to take the fight to Mercedes-Benz in the primary racing series. 

Despite competing for no fewer than nine years, the car was never crashed. That’s fortunate when you consider just four were ever made. It sold in New York just three years ago. 

3. 1954 Mercedes Benz W196 – $29.7m

Sold by Bonhams in the UK in 2013

The second Fangio car is this race-winning Mercedes-Benz

The second Fangio car is this race-winning Mercedes-Benz

The Argentinean ace piloted it to victory at the 1945 Swiss and German grand prix

The Argentinean ace piloted it to victory at the 1945 Swiss and German grand prix

The second Fangio car is this race-winning Mercedes-Benz. The Argentinean ace piloted it to victory at the 1945 Swiss and German grand prix

The Ferrari in fourth was designed to dethrone this vehicle. It was sold at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed and remains today as the most expensive vehicle sold at a UK auction.

The Silver Arrows racer – like the 290MM Ferrari – was raced by Juan Manuel Fangio, taking the chequered flag at both the Swiss and German Grand Prix in 1954. 

2. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti – $35.7m

Sold by Artcurial in France in 2016 

When this Ferrari sold in 2016, Artcurial thought it had set a new record to become the most expensive motor to go via auction. However, exchange rates at the time have denied it from reaching the top spot

When this Ferrari sold in 2016, Artcurial thought it had set a new record to become the most expensive motor to go via auction. However, exchange rates at the time have denied it from reaching the top spot

When this Ferrari sold in 2016, Artcurial thought it had set a new record to become the most expensive motor to go via auction. However, exchange rates at the time have denied it from reaching the top spot

Many argue that had the exchange rate of the euro been better at the time, this could have taken the title as the most expensive car sold at auction.

The 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport by Scaglietti – as well as being drop-dead gorgeous – had set record times at Le Mans and competed in the original Mille Miglia rally.

Artcurial believed it had set a new record when the hammer dropped at just over €32m – even creating a special hashtag on Twitter at the time – but once converted to dollars it fell short of the top spot.

1. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO -$38.1m

Sold by Bonhams in the US in 2014

The euros weakness against the dollar means this Ferrari 250 GTO sold by Bonhams remains as the priciest car sold to a winning bidder

The euros weakness against the dollar means this Ferrari 250 GTO sold by Bonhams remains as the priciest car sold to a winning bidder

While $38.1m sounds a lot, it might turn out to be a snip if GTO prices exceed $100m in the next five years, as is predicted

While $38.1m sounds a lot, it might turn out to be a snip if GTO prices exceed $100m in the next five years, as is predicted

The euros weakness against the dollar means this Ferrari 250 GTO sold by Bonhams remains as the priciest car sold to a winning bidder. While $38.1m sounds a lot, it might turn out to be a snip if GTO prices exceed $100m in the next five years, as is predicted

This Ferrari is the most expensive car to ever sell at auction.

Sold for $38,115,000 during the summer 2014, the 250 GTO holds the world record for a sale in a public auction house. While $38.1m is one hell of a fee, it’s way short of the $70m figure paid for a 250 GTO last week.

CARS & MOTORING: ON TEST

Leave a Reply