Wednesday October 9, 2019
Every now and then, a classic car will go to auction with a price tag so high that only the billionaire enthusiasts stand a real chance of ever owning it.
The record for the most expensive classic car to be sold at auction keeps on being broken, largely due to inflation, but also because the cars are becoming more desirable with time.
We insure plenty of expensive classic cars here at Lancaster Classic Car Insurance – but none of them are quite at these lofty levels!
Let’s take a look at the 10 most expensive classic cars ever to be sold at auction. In reverse order...
10. Jaguar D-Type – $21,780,000 (£17,235,000)
When this Jaguar D-Type sold at RM Sotheby's Monterey for $21.78 million (a $19.8 million bid plus auction fees) in August 2016, it became the most expensive British automobile ever sold at auction.
The car in question – Jaguar D-Type chassis number XKD 501 – won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1956, narrowly defeating a team from Aston Martin. Along the way, this D-Type completed 2,507.19 miles at an average speed of 104.47 miles per hour, and a maximum speed of 156.868 mph on the Mulsanne Straight.
That kind of track record, coupled with its pristine original race-winning condition, ensured the hands kept going up in the auction room.
9. Duesenberg SSJ – $22,000,000 (£17,410,000)
The 1935 Duesenberg SSJ formerly owned by actor Gary Cooper sold for $22m at the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach sale in August 2018, setting a record for the most expensive pre-war car sold at auction.
The sale was the first time an SSJ had ever been put up at auction – and the outcome didn’t disappoint. With only two of this kind ever made – the other went to all-time-great movie star Clark Gable. You might say a record was never in doubt.
8. Aston Martin DBR1 – $22,550,000 (£17,845,000)
The Jaguar D-Type’s record as the most expensive British automobile ever sold at auction was broken by a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale in 2017.
A legendary standout, the DBR1 is what some might consider the "most important Aston Martin ever produced." It’s the first of five factory-built examples, and comes complete with a period-correct reproduction engine built by R.S. Williams, but was also offered with its final Works fitted engine.
7. Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale – $26,400,000 (£20,890,000)
When this extremely rare 1964 Ferrari GTB/C Speciale was sold for $26.4 million in 2014 it became fourth-most expensive car ever sold at auction.
Made for the race track, the Speciale has an aluminium body for lighter weight and its 3.0-litre V12 engine was tuned from the factory to give an extra 70bhp. Somewhat ironically, however, this particular car never raced – but this meant it was presented in pristine condition.
6. Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider - $27,500,000 (£22,186,365)
At the time of its sale, this 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB Spider became the most expensive road-going car ever sold at auction. Not only that, the $27.5m price tag was the second highest price ever paid for a car at auction and made the Spider the most valuable Ferrari ever – but that record has been broken in emphatic fashion in recent years.
5. Ferrari 290 MM - $28,050,000 (£22,630,100)
This 1956 Ferrari 290 MM, chassis 0626, was built for Formula One racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio. Designed for the legendary five-time F1 champ, the model was one of only four 290 MMs to be built.
Argentinian Fangio, considered by many to be one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time – if not the greatest – raced the 3.5-litre, V12 engine monster in the famous Mille Miglia, coming in fourth.
4. Mercedes-Benz W196 – $29,600,000 (£23,420,000)
The most expensive German car to sell at auction, the Mercedes-Benz W196 went under the hammer for its record price all the way back in 2013. Another vehicle piloted by the great Fangio, the car won the German and Swiss Grands Prix in 1954.
The Merc’s innovative design also marked the successful introduction to Formula 1 of new technologies including the fuel-injected engine and a multi-tubular, 'space frame' chassis.
3. Ferrari 335 Sport – $35,711,359 (£28,255,000)
It’s all Ferrari at the top of the list, starting with this 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport. Sold at a 2016 Artcurial auction in Paris, the car was driven by some of the world’s greatest ever drivers including Sir Stirling Moss who piloted the vehicle to victory in the 1958 Cuba Grand Prix.
With its V12 engine, the 335 S had maximum power of 390 HP at 7400rpm and could reach maximum speeds of around 186mph.
2. Ferrari 250 GTO – $38,115,000 (£30,160,000)
The 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO held the record for the most expensive car to be sold at auction when it was picked up in 2014 for just shy of $40m at Bonhams' Quail Lodge auction in Carmel, California.
Bidders from around the world were in attendance, both in the audience and on the telephones, desperate to get their hands on one of the finest cars of its era, thanks to its powerful 3.0-litre V12 and unrivalled racing pedigree. Only 36 were made and this one was raced by Jo Schlesser.
1. Ferrari 250 GTO - $70,000,000 (£52,300,000)
In the number one spot is yet another Italian stallion – the 250 GTO Scaglietti. This particular model, chassis 3413, is fitted with its original engine, gearbox and rear axle, as well as a later Series II body designed by Carrozzeria Scaglietti in 1964, as Driving.co.uk explains.
This particular model has a glittering racing past and, unlike others, can boast that it has never been spearheaded bumper first into a crash barrier during its circuit exploits.
During its early days as part of the factory Scuderia outfit, the 250 GTO was used for testing.
Protect your investment with classic car insurance
Whether you’ve got a Ferrari, a Ford or a Fiat – or any classic for that matter – you’re going to need specialist classic car insurance.
Lancaster is the classic car insurance broker of choice for 96,000 vehicle owners. Did you know that over 40% of all MGBs and over 30% of all Land Rover 88s and MG Midgets have their classic car insurance arranged by us?
Drawing on the carefully selected panel of specialist underwriters, we will search for the best classic car insurance for your cherished auto.