Most expensive cars around the world

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé

€135,000,000

The only car on this list not sold in the US is also the one which obliterated the previous world auction record.

It is the second of two roadgoing coupé derivatives of the 300SLR sports racer, and the one used by the brilliant British-German engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who was also an exceptionally talented driver.

Like its companion, it was always intended to remain the property of Daimler, but after a change of policy it became the subject of an auction open only to selected prospective buyers, held at the marque’s Stuttgart museum.

The enormous sale price of €135,000,000 on 5 May 2022 is being used to establish the Mercedes-Benz Fund which, in the words of board member Renata Jungo Brüngger, will be “supporting young people in their studies, commitment and actions towards a more sustainable future”.
 

1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Spider

£18,915,101

Any Ferrari 410 is special, but this one is particularly so, since it is one of only two with twin spark plugs for each cylinder of its 4.9-litre Lampredi V12 engine.

Its provenance is also excellent, largely because it was raced in period by such drivers as Juan Manuel Fangio and Carroll Shelby.

Despite being nearly 70 years old, it remains very original, with matching-numbers engine, chassis and body.

1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Coupé

£11,527,849

Gooding’s apparently extravagant estimate of ‘in excess of $10,000,000’ for this glorious T150-C turned out to be remarkably restrained.

In fact, it beat that figure even in pounds sterling, selling for a phenomenal $13,425,000 at the Amelia Island sale on 4 March 2022.

This figure is the highest achieved at auction not only for a Talbot-Lago, but for a French car of any type.

1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante

£8,912,217 

The first car on this list to achieve an eight-figure sale price in US dollars is one of only 17 examples of the Atalante, a particularly rare variant of the Bugatti Type 57.

Its astonishingly curvy bodywork conceals a supercharged 3.3-litre twin-cam straight-eight engine producing a reputed 200bhp.

This engine is the one originally fitted to the car, though it was damaged in the 1960s and replaced by one from another Type 57.

The Atalante and its power source were reunited in 2005, shortly before work began on a restoration project which lasted for three years. More recently, a further mechanical restoration has been performed by UK Bugatti specialist Ivan Dutton.

937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster

£8,527,933

All Mercedes-Benz 540Ks were long and powered by a supercharged 5.4-litre straight-eight engine, but there was a wide variety of body styles.

This car is believed to be one of only three survivors with long-tail roadster bodywork.

That may partly account for its very high auction price of nearly $10m during Monterey Car Week in August, but so too do the fact that it has covered fewer than 13,000 miles in 85 years, and – despite its fine condition – has never been restored.

1924 Hispano-Suiza H6C 

£7,956,209

Almost certainly the most famous Hispano-Suiza ever created, this H6C was first supplied to André Dubonnet, who commissioned a lightweight wooden body from the French aircraft manufacturer Nieuport (known at the time as Nieuport-Astra).

Dubonnet raced the car successfully in the 1924 Targa Florio, and in the Coppo Florio, which was the same event with an extra 67-mile lap.

Dubonnet later used the car as road transport. It spent many years in the UK (where it sustained mild body damage in the Second World War) and was then taken to the US. A full restoration was completed in 1986.

1957 Ferrari 500TRC

£6,706,438

The 500TRC was the last in a long line of Ferrari sports-racing cars powered by a Lampredi-designed 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.

Its immediate predecessor, the 500TR, was rendered obsolete by a change in regulations. During its redesign, Ferrari took the opportunity to make the new car significantly lower.

Ferrari did not race the TRC itself, but made it available to independent teams. Painted in light blue, this example was raced in 1957 by Equipe Los Amigos, which did quite well with it but had to retire from that year’s Le Mans contest when the water pump gave up after 13 hours.

The car moved to the US later that year, and has remained there ever since. It has been repainted, and the original engine is once again under the bonnet, following a period when it was replaced by a Ford V8.

1954 Ferrari 375 America 

£6,510,670 

Ferrari’s 375 America succeeded the 342 America in 1953, and featured a larger, 4.5-litre version of the Lampredi V12.

Most were bodied by Pininfarina, but Vignale produced some coupés and, in the case of the car shown here, a unique convertible.

Bought new by Bianca Colizzi, daughter of Italian film director Giuseppe Colizzi, the car was exported to the US in 1958 and had only four owners from then until the 2022 auction.

1966 Ferrari 275GTB/C 

£6,510,670

Ferrari updated the 275GTB for the 1966 season to such effect that the new GTB/C derivative won its class at Le Mans both in that year and in 1967.

This one had a relatively gentle competition career, which has allowed it to remain more original than other cars of the same type.

That said, a thorough restoration was completed in 2017.

1953 Ferrari 375MM Spider

£6,415,623

The 375MM was available with spider, berlinetta or coupé bodies, most of them created by Pininfarina.

This particular example, chassis number 0366AM, was one of the latter, but following a racing accident in 1954 it was rebodied by Scaglietti, immediately becoming unique in that respect.

Twice owned by collector Oscar Davis, who died in 2021, it was given a redesigned front end in the 1960s, but has since returned to the Scaglietti shape.

1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Coupé

£6,226,831

Of the very small number of Talbot-Lago T150s fitted with teardrop bodies by the Parisian firm of Figoni et Falaschi, only this one is understood to have been built specifically with motorsport in mind.

Shared by owner Philippe de Massa and Norbert Jean Mahé, it competed in the 1939 Le Mans 24-hour race, but retired after 88 laps.

It then spent several decades out of sight until re-emerging after the reunification of Germany. A six-year restoration began in 1996, and more work was done in 2006 and 2007.

Its sale price, in August at Monterey, was remarkable, but as we’ll see it wasn’t the highest achieved by a Talbot-Lago in 2022.

1958 Ferrari 250GT Cabriolet Series I

£5,827,156

The fourth and final 250 on this list is one of 40 cabriolets designed by Pininfarina, and one of only five from that series with this particular combination of vents, bumperettes and headlight covers.

It was sold first to Count Volpi, and exported to the US in the early 1960s. A comprehensive restoration was completed in 2001. It achieved this eye-watering price-tag during Monterey Car Week.

A second series with more sober body styling and additional luggage space was completed in 1962. These cars are rare, but less so than the Series I, since 200 were built.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

£5,827,156

Most production examples of the 300SL were fitted with a steel body, while bolt-on items such as the doors, bonnet and bootlid were made of aluminium.

However, Mercedes-Benz also built a small run of cars with all-aluminium bodies, making them around 80kg lighter than the standard versions.

This car, which sold at the RM Sotheby’s sale in Arizona, back on 27 January 2022, is the 13th in that line, and has matching-numbers chassis, body, engine and rear axle. The gearbox is not original, but is a period-correct unit taken from a 1957 300SL.

1998 Ferrari F300

£5,317,985

Michael Schumacher was unable to prevent Mika Häkkinen from winning the 1998 Formula One drivers’ World Championship, but the fact that he came close is largely due to this car.

Schumacher drove chassis 187 in the Canadian, French, British and Italian Grands Prix, and won all four of them. (He also won in Argentina and Hungary, but in a different F300.)

This car, 187, is therefore believed to have been the only Ferrari ever to achieve a 100% winning record after competing in more than three races.

Scuderia Ferrari sold the car in 1999 to a customer who retained it for 23 years.

1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica

£5,119,632

The 400 Superamerica was the 1959 successor to the 410 Supamerica. Its V12 engine was a 4.0-litre Colombo rather than the previous car’s 5.0-litre Lampredi, but according to Ferrari it had a similar output of around 340bhp.

This car, one of the first with the coupé aerodinamico bodywork, has the chassis number 2809 SA, and was built for Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata, who was in his early 20s at the time.

At the time of its auction it had just 24,000km on the clock, and has never been restored.

The winning $6m bid at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach sale in August was $1m above the highest estimate. Wow. 

1958 Ferrari 250GT LWB California Spider

£5,091,080

Famous for, among other things, its appearance in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ferrari’s California Spider was intended to appeal specifically to customers in North America.

Despite this, the car shown here – number 14 in a series of 50 – was first sold to a customer in Milan, and remained in Europe for many years.

Due to Italian legislation at the time of its manufacture, chassis 1077 GT would originally have been sold with open headlights, though transparent covers were added later.

2007 Porsche RS Spyder Evo

£4,787,979

Porsche developed the RS Spyder for the American Le Mans LP2 racing class, and first used it for a complete season in 2006.

The Evo version was introduced the following year, with aerodynamic improvements and an increase in power from 473bhp to 486bhp for the 3.4-litre V8 engine.

Chassis 9R6.702 was shared by Ryan Briscoe and Sascha Maassen, who won two Series races outright at Salt Lake City and Lime Rock and finished third equal in the LMP2 Drivers’ Championship behind their Penske Racing teammates Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas.

In US dollars, 9R6.702 sold for $5,615,000, some way short of the $6m which marked the start of its estimate range.

1957 Ferrari 250GT LWB Berlinetta Tour de France

 £4,692,382

The higher price achieved by this car is no doubt due to the fact that it is rarer than the Tour de France previously mentioned.

Built two years earlier, it is one of only 18 third-generation cars, with three vent louvres per side.

Its first owner was Pierre Noblet, who would go on to score three class wins and finish on the overall podium twice at the Le Mans 24-hour race between 1961 and 1964.

He did none of those things in this car, which nevertheless had a good competition career of its own. More recently, it has won several concours awards.

1959 Ferrari 250GT LWB Berlinetta Tour de France

£4,558,336

The 250GT pictured here was built in the last year of the Tour de France series.

It is believed to have been the 26th of the 36 final-generation cars, which can easily be identified by the single vent louvre (as opposed to none, three or 14 of other versions) in each rear pillar.

As intended, it competed in several races in its early days, and was fully restored in 2005. It crossed the block with RM Sotheby’s at its Monterey sale in August 2022.

1995 Ferrari F50

£4,450,446

Ferraris famously fetch very high prices at auction, and sure enough more than half of the cars on this list were produced by the marque.

Showing considerable confidence, Ferrari decided to build 349 examples of the F50 supercar because that was one fewer than it thought it could sell.

There were 55 earmarked for the US, and this is believed to be the sixth of them. It had had only three owners by the time of the auction, and had covered just under 5000 miles, an annual average of well below 200.

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