In July, Kelley Blue Book reported that the average price of a new car reached $48,043 the month before — a record high. While that might seem like a lot to the average driver, the most coveted cars in history sell for figures with three or four more numbers and one or two more commas.
The following is a list of the most expensive cars in the world. It’s a ranking utterly and totally dominated by the Ferrari nameplate, although three other brands did manage to squeak their way in. Most sold at auction and a few changed hands through private transactions — but all 10 have their own special place in automotive history.
Some are renowned for their rarity, others for their racing pedigree, and others for their sheer beauty and power. If you’re looking to trade up for your current set of wheels and you’ve got a fortune to burn, keep an eye out for these 10 cars during your next trip to the auction house.
- Sale price: $22 million
Gary Cooper was the original owner of the ’35 Duesenberg SSJ that became the most expensive American car ever sold at auction. It fetched $22 million at Gooding & Co. at Pebble Beach in 2018.
Launched just before the Great Depression in 1928 to compete with the world’s most luxurious and powerful cars, the Duesenberg SSJ is remembered as perhaps the greatest pre-war classic automobile of all time. The one that broke the auction record was one of only two SSJs ever built.
- Sale price: $22 million
One of just two sports racing Ferrari big-block prototypes built in the 1950s sold for a little more than $22 million in August 2022. Racing icon Carroll Shelby drove this specific Ferrari 410 Sport Spider — 0598 CM — during his legendary 1956-57 seasons.
Shelby earned eight victories and 10 podium finishes behind the wheel of 0598 CM — more wins than in any other car of his entire career. Juan Manuel Fangio drove it at the 1956 1000 KM Buenos Aires.
- Sale price: $22.55 million
When an Aston Martin — the preferred nameplate of James Bond — sold for nearly $22.6 million in 2017, it was the highest price ever paid for a British car at auction, according to CNN. The previous record was a $21.8 million 1955 Jaguar D-Type.
At the time of the auction, Sotheby’s called the glossy turquoise racing car “the most important model in Aston Martin history.” Among the legends who graced its cockpit are Carroll Shelby, Stirling Moss, Roy Salvadori and Jack Brabham.
- Sale price: $26.4 million
In 2014 at RM Auctions in Monterey’s Pebble Beach, one of the rarest Ferraris in the world sold for more than $26 million after a flurry of intense bidding. According to the Los Angeles Times, even the opening bid of $15 million was enough to stun the crowd.
Much rarer than its 250 GTO counterparts, this particular example was one of only three Works Berlinetta Competizione cars ever built. The 320-horsepower V12 came with the original matching-numbers engine.
- Sale price: $27.5 million
In August 2013, the Sotheby’s gavel dropped on a bright red Ferrari 275 for a winning bid of $27.5 million. The 300-horsepower V12 was one of only 10 NART spiders ever built, and it had had but a single owner since it was new.
The NART line was conceived by Luigi Chinetti, a famous le Mans winner and the chief of Ferrari’s North American division. The proceeds of the auction benefited charity.
- Sale price: $28.05 million
One of the most important vehicles in European automotive racing history, the V12 320-horsepower Ferrari 290 MM was driven into history by famed racer Juan Manuel Fangio. Only a handful were ever built, and Enzo Ferrari built chassis No. 0626 with Fangio in mind.
The vehicle came in fourth overall in the 1956 Mille Miglia. It sold for more than $28 million at Sotheby’s in 2015.
- Sale price: $29.65 million
When Juan Manuel Fangio’s Mercedes-Benz W196 F1 racer sold for nearly $30 million in 2013, it set the record for the highest price that any car ever fetched at auction, according to Car and Driver. The legendary racer won nine out of the 12 competitions it entered, including the 1954 Swiss and German Grand Prix.
The 2.5-liter straight-eight open-wheel Formula 1 car remains one of the finest examples from the golden age of European racing.
- Sale price: $36.17 million
In 2016, the 32,075,000 euros that a buyer plunked down to get behind the wheel of a ’57 Ferrari 335 S was the second highest sum ever paid for any car at auction, according to Motor Authority. A classic Ferrari 250 GTO beat it out by a couple of million bucks in 2014.
One of just a few examples in existence, the V12 race car with chassis No. 0674 boasts one of history’s most elite racing pedigrees. Drivers Maurice Trintignant and Peter Collins took turns racing it to sixth place in the 1957 12 Hours of Sebring. That same year, it came in second at Mille Miglia with Wolfgang Von Trips behind the wheel.
- Sale price: $70 million
When Greg Whitten, an early Microsoft employee and chairman of Numerix Software Ltd., sold his ’62 Ferrari 250 GTO for more than $48 million in 2018, it was the highest price any classic car had ever fetched at auction, according to Time. The previous record of $38.1 million was set in 2014 by a 1963 version of the same car.
Ferrari made just 36 250 GTOs between 1953 and 1964, and the exquisite racing cars consistently command among the highest sale prices in the industry. Earlier in 2018, a 1963 version fetched $70 million in a private sale.
- Sale price: $135 million
On May 5, an unnamed collector dropped nine figures on a gullwing coupe from Mercedes’ own private collection. Named for Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the chief of the Mercedes racing division during the pre- and post-World War II eras, it’s one of only two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut prototypes ever made. Although it never actually raced, auto enthusiasts consider it to be perhaps the finest example of automotive design and engineering in history.
The proceeds will benefit the Mercedes-Benz Fund for research and educational scholarships in the areas of decarbonization and environmental science. The other prototype will remain in the custody of Mercedes-Benz for display in a museum.
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All vehicles purchased with foreign currency were converted into U.S. dollars using the conversion rate at the time of purchase.