Cars are very much a necessity in our modern world. Perhaps you enjoy splashing out on a new car every few years, or perhaps you grudge giving over the dollars for something so practical. The twenty most expensive cars are not practical, they are supercars. The buyers of these cars, hope they will be good investments, and they will no doubt, be hoping that they don’t face the same depreciation the rest of us are plagued by when we buy our runarounds.
21. 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster - $11.7 million
In the thirties, Mercedes-Benz built to order for wealthy enthusiasts and the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster was the flagship model. When it was introduced in 1936, just 26 of the 540 K Special Roadsters were produced, before production was brought to a sudden halt due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Of the 26 produced, only a few were exported to the United States. Mercedes-Benz.com describe this car as one of the supercars of its day. The price tag of the 540k when new was 28,000 Reichsmarks (£3,000) when the Special Roadster went on sale, the equivalent of around $200,000 today. This spectacular red model was delivered new to Reginald Sinclaire, a socialite from Colorado. He kept his beautiful Mercedes his garage alongside the rest of his fleet of luxury automobiles, which included an Aston Martin, a Bentley and a Duesenberg. Sinclaire owned the vehicle until the 1950s.
20. Sweptail by Rolls Royce - $13 Million
Owning a Rolls Royce is synonymous with wealth, nothing speaks status like this brand does. The Sweptail is certainly the haute couture of the automotive industry. This is a one off custom build and at a reported price of nearly $13 million, it is believed to be the most expensive new car ever commissioned. This one-of-a-kind Rolls Royce, is based on the current generation Phantom platform, and was inspired by the luxury yachts of the 1920s and ’30s. Its signature feature is a single-piece glass roof which is a design feature dominating the car’s silhouette. Beam.land reports that the sweptail includes two specially designed briefcases which fit in lockers in the passenger’s cockpit as well as a shelf for the owner’s hat.
19. 1995 McLaren F1 - $15.6 million
The McLaren F1 is one of the most recognizable names in automotive history, yet there were only 64 F1s ever built. It is an automotive marvel was described by Bonhams as the “ultimate road car”. The model which sold at Bonhams for a cool $15.6 million was amongst the most desirable examples ever offered. It was in pristine condition, with only 9,600 miles on the odometer and was the first ever McLaren F1 imported to the US. When the car was sold, it had been meticulously maintained and even had a full McLaren service history and only one previous owner. Perhaps given that this was the case, it is no surprise that this McLaren F1 set the record for the most valuable post 1970 car ever sold at auction. The beautiful machine is powered by a 627 horsepower 6.1-liter V-12 engine which gives the car a top speed of 240 mph. The McLaren F1 was the fastest production car in the world for over a decade.
18. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa - $16.3 million
Nothing roars status and class quite like a Ferrari. This classy restored 1957 Ferrari 250 TR prototype fetched an astounding $16.39 million at auction. It was one of just 22 pontoon-fendered 250 TR race cars. The particular model has an extensive racing history, with no less than three appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as showings at Sebring, the Nurburgring and at the Targa Florio.
17. 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale - $16.5 million
This particular Ferrari 250 GT is one of the best known and coachbuilt Ferraris ever made. It was designed by the iconic Giorgetto Giugiaro and inspired by Ferrari’s legendary shark nose racing cars. This particular model features Bertone bodywork, and was personally owned by the coachbuilder, Nuccio Bertone himself. Coachbuild.com reports that this Ferrari 250 GT is one of only two Ferraris ever built to have had their bodywork designed by Bertone.
16. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM - $17.6 million
An historic 1964 Ferrari 250 LM was been sold by RM Sotheby’s for $17.6 million as part of ‘The Pinnacle Portfolio’ in 2015. The Pinnacle Portfolio was one of the most significant and valuable private automobile collection ever presented at auction. It made its original debut at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1964. Bloomberg described this particular Ferrari 250 LM as just one of just 32 examples ever built.
15. 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider - $17.8 million
Ferraris always command high prices in auction, but the ones that fetch the highest prices are rare, have a racing heritage and have a history of famous ownership. This silver and blue 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider was one of just eight built with an aluminum body. It raced in Le Mans, taking home third place for its class, and fifth place overall. Finally, it was campaigned by the Ferrari North American Racing Team, typically referred to as N.A.R.T. Top Gear reported that this car was driven by Luigi Chinetti in the 1959 Le Mans 24 hr. Besides this car's extensive and interesting history, it's a splendid machine. The 250 GT California line is one of the more iconic from Ferrari, thanks in part to a red replica being the star car of the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
14. 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus - $18.3 million
The incredibly rare 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus fetched $18.3 million at auction. The “Plus” in the Ferrari 375-Plus refers to the extra 400 cc over the standard 375 racer. That boosted the V-12 capacity to a phenomenal 4.9 liters. Only five Ferrari 375-Plus autos were ever built. Top speed.com describes the Ferrari 375 Plus as an emblematic machine that embodies in grand style the magnificence of the V12 it was power by. The 375-Plus was not without some very famous drivers in its day. Amongst its drivers, it can boast Jose Froilan Gonzalez from Argentina and Umberto Maglioli, the great Italian long distance road racer. The 375-Plus model was an outright winner both at Le Mans and Silverstone, it truly was a Supercar.
13. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider - $18.5 million
Ferrari 250s are certainly the stars of the automobile world. The 250 commands ridiculously high prices in its various forms. And of the various forms that the 250 took, it is generally the 250 GTO and 250 GT SWB California Spider that fetch the very highest prices. These examples are prized because they are so rare. The California Spider is based on the 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France, with a convertible top for increased enjoyment of the gorgeous California weather. Most of these cars were sent to the U.S., whilst a handful stayed in Europe, of which this is an example.
12. Bugatti La Voiture Noire - $18.9 million
This car is the epitome of beauty. Forbes reported that even before the cover was pulled back on this one-off black-on-black example of vehicular perfection, it was sold for an incredible $18.9 million. The one-off supercar was created from carbon fiber and was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. La Voiture Noire, which simply means "the black car" is a modern interpretation of the classic Bugatti Type 57, designed by founder Ettore Bugatti's son, Jean, in the 1930s and 40s. It is thought to be the most expensive new car of all time.
11. 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider - $19.8 million
Sothebys reported that the 1939 Alfa Romeo was the first “Immortal 2.9” to be offered at public auction this century. The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring was the most expensive pre-war car ever, when it sold for $19.8 million in 2018. In its day, it was the most luxurious, modern sports car money could buy. The car was one of only 12 remaining Touring Spiders in the world. RM Sotheby’s, described the car as “Italy’s version of the Bugatti Atlantic” offering a wonderful combination of the best engineering and styling available from the era. The car was restored by well known Alfa Romeo restorer, Tony Merrick, who did a magnificent job of reinstating the car to its original glory.
10. 1955 Jaguar D-Type XKD 501 - $21.7 million
This legendary Jaguar which was once driven to victory in awful conditions at Le Mans became the most valuable British car sold publicly when it was sold for a staggering $21.7 million. The Sun Newspaper featured an article reporting that the stunning D-Type racing machine seized the checkered flag victoriously, following a grueling 24 hour race at Le Mans in 1956. The Jaguar D-Type is one of the most significant race cars ever designed. Jaguar pioneered the use of the monocoque chassis design, and D-Types won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955, 1956, and 1957. With its spectacular bodywork pulled taught over the wheels, engine, and passenger compartment, not to mention the massive fin behind the driver's headrest, the D-Type is most definitely one of the most eye-catching vehicles ever produced.
9. 1935 Duesenberg SSJ - $22.0 million
The incredibly rare, beautifully maintained, and incredibly well-documented 1935 Deusenberg SSJ brought in a grand total of $22,000,000. Fox News reported that the Duesenberg SSJ was the most expensive American car ever sold at auction. The Duesenberg is all American to its core, from the hot-rodded, 400-horsepower, supercharged inline eight-cylinder engine to its short-wheelbase chassis, this car is as American as the star spangled banner. Its list of owners include Gary Cooper and Briggs Cunningham.
8. 1956 Aston Martin DBR1/1 - $22.5 million
This 1956 Aston Martin racing car sets the record as the most expensive British car to sell at auction. This car which was once driven by the legendary Stirling Moss, fetched more than $22.5 million at RM Sotheby's sale. This car was driven victoriously by Sir Stirling Moss at the 1000km Nurburgring race in 1959, which is known as one of the highlights of Moss’s driving career. The DBR 1/1 is the first of an iconic run of racing cars which were produced by Aston Martin. The UK Newspaper, The Telegraph described the Aston Martin as Britain's answer to the Ferrari 250 GTO.
7. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale - $26.4 million
Demand for the 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale was ridiculously high because of its extreme rarity and exceptional condition. This motor had no less than six Weber carburetors and a 3.3-liter dry-sump V-12 engine which happily churns out 320 hp. The 275 GTB/C Speciale is one of only three Berlinetta Competizione cars produced for racing. This particular model spent its life as a road car, while its twin, went on to finish first in its class and third overall at the 1965 Le Mans 24-Hour race. Artscash.com write about how the Ferrari 250 GTO caused quite a dispute in the motorsport world when the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) refused to homologate the model as a GT contender. only settling on a compromise when Enzo Ferrari threatened to abandon the motor sport completely.
6. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider - $27.5 million
While any Ferrari 275 GTB is likely to be a star of the auction, the 1967 NART car had every factor in place to make it shine in radiant glory. It is one of only ten of these North American Racing Team cars ever built. The Spider achieved red carpet success with the 1968 production of The Thomas Crown Affair. While Steve McQueen was amongst the first NART owners (unfortunately crashing his); this car had only one owner from new and was being sold because its owner had died. Car and Driver reported that all of the proceeds from the auction of this Ferrari were donated to charity by the deceased owners family. The car was reportedly sold to Canadian fashion businessman Lawrence Stroll, but those reports were never confirmed.
5. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM - $28.05 million
A 1956 Ferrari 290 MM which sold for $28.05 million is the fourth most expensive car on our list. The thoroughbred racing car was originally built for Juan Manuel Fangio to compete in the Mille Miglia which is a 1,000-mile race through Italy. Forbes reports that the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM was driven by the greatest drivers of the day, including Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill, Peter Collins, Wolfgang von Trips, Olivier Gendebien, Eugenio Castellotti and later under private ownership, Sir Stirling Moss. Fangio’s Ferrari was the most expensive car sold in 2015. It was one of four examples ever built and has the unique distinction of never having been crashed during its competition career. This wonder machine retains its original chassis, engine, gearbox and body. It’s a gem
4. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 - $29.6 million
The 1954 Mercedes-Benz is the only car that’s not a Ferrari to make the top 5 most expensive cars in our list. The rare Mercedes race car was bought by an anonymous bidder bought it for $29.6 million dollars. This car competed in five world championship-qualifying Grand Prix races. Five-time Formula 1 World Champion driver Juan Manuel Fangio won two grands prix in this automobile, in fact, these were the first successive wins by the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 team in the German racing crew’s post-World War Two comeback. In July 2013, Bonhams Motoring Director James Knight told Reuters from the sale at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in southern England. “We’ve just witnessed history in the making.”
3. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti - $35.7 million
The second most expensive car on our list is the 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti. It sold for $35.7 million at the Paris Retromobile show, and according to the Dupont registry Lionel Messi is suspected to be its new owner. This particular Ferrari was first driven by Peter Collins and Maurice Trinitgnant in the 1957 Sebring 12 Hours. Followed, later that year, by the phenomenal Wolfgang von Trips in the Millie Miglia, where it came in second place. Formula 1 champion Mike Hawthorn also put the car through its paces the following year in the 24 Hours of Le Mans where he set a lap record of over 124 mph. Sir Stirling Moss also drove the car to victory, winning the Cuban Grand Prix of 1958.
2. 1962-63 Ferrarii 250 GTO Berlinetta - $38,115,000
According to Bonham's - The Ferrari 250 GT 'Omologato' needs little introduction as the most iconic, most habitable, street-useable, race-winning, World Championship-winning – and simply gorgeous – closed two-seat Coupe car from the world-famous Maranello factory. The GTO was developed to contest the 1962 3-litre class FIA GT World Championship series of classical endurance racing events. Selective production at Maranello and in the Scaglietti body plant in Modena ran on through the 1963 FIA GT World Championship and – sure enough – the Ferrari 250 GTO won the World title both seasons in succession.
1. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO - $48.4 million
The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO is the real deal and rightfully scoops the coveted pole position as it is named the most expensive car. This ultra-rare 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for $48.4 million.
Between 1962 and 1964, just 36 examples of this ultimate racing Ferrari were built, and every single one of them survives. Perhaps the eye-watering price has encouraged the owners of these fine machines to be ultra careful. CNBC reported that this particular Ferrari 250 GTO, considered the Holy Grail in collectible cars, was sold by former Microsoft executive Greg Whitten.
In 1962, this car won the Italian GT championship and it has clocked up more than 15 class and overall wins from 1962 to 1965. The first US F1 World Champion, Phil Hill was drove this car. It is said to have been purchased by the automobile collector David MacNeil and CNN even likened the car’s design to a piece of fine art such as Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflowers.
So there we have it, the twenty most expensive cars in 2019. The Italians reign as the champions of automotive design for sure. The Ferrari 250 in its many forms, picks up a number of prizes including that of the overall winner. The GTO scooped just under fifty million dollars, which could buy a large house with change left over for lavish furnishings.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker