Most cars are depreciating assets that lose half their value as soon as you drive them off the lot. Yet some have proven to have such an important history in auto racing or elsewhere that they can appreciate—occasionally surpassing tens of millions of dollars. Auction houses such as RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Company, Bonhams, and Artcurial usually handle the sales of these ultra-high-end classics, and the prices will leave you in awe. Many of these vehicles were originally bought directly from racing teams, or from a collector or private collection—and on rare occasions, somebody got lucky and found a car in an old barn.
Price: $17.6 million
Ferrari debuted the 250 LM in 1964, and it took first place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965. This legendary race car was limited to only 32 examples and represents the last time Ferrari was victorious at Le Mans. Powered by a V12 that delivers 320 hp, it was among the most dominant race cars of the 1960s. This 250 LM, chassis no. 6105, sold for $17.6 million by RM Sotheby’s in 2015.
Price: $18.1 million
The 1959 250 GT LWB California Spyder Competizione was an upgraded and more aggressive version of its SWB counterpart. This car is one of nine to showcase lightweight alloy bodywork, and it adds to the rarity of the car. This one, chassis no. 1603, was sold by Gooding & Company in 2016 for $18.1 million.
Price: $18.3 Million
The Ferrari 375 Plus Spider was released in 1954 and was victorious at major races such as Le Mans, the 1000km of Buenos Aires, and Silverstone. Only eight 375 Plus Spiders were built and the original model, chassis no. 0384, was sold for $18.3 million by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2014. A major legal dispute took place after its sale due to the car having been stolen from its previous owner, Karl Kleve. It was stripped for parts and the chassis was bought by Belgian racing driver Jacques Swaters, who restored it. When Swaters passed away, his daughter was ruled the rightful owner in court and sold the car through Bonhams to the founder of Victoria’s Secret, Les Wexner.
Price: $18.4 million
The Baillon Collection was a secret stash of cars found in barns left behind by collector Roger Baillon. The highlight of the collection was the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder. This is the rarest of the 250 GTs as it has its original paint and iconic covered headlights. This 250 GT chassis no. 2935 sold in 2015 for $18.4 million by Artcurial in Paris, France.
Price: $18.9 million
Italian automaker Alfa Romeo has many past collaborations with Italian coachbuilder Touring, resulting in some of the world’s most beautiful cars. The 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta held the title as the fastest production car in the world when it was made. Powered by its 2.9-liter inline-8 cylinder engine that packs 180 horsepower, the 8C was able to achieve a top speed of 109 mph. Only five were built and chassis no. 412024, shown here, sold for $18.9 million at an Artcurial auction in 2019.
Price: $19.8 million
Alfa Romeo and Touring built another version of the 8C in 1939. The 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring is a convertible version of the original 8C and only 12 were ever made. This 8C, chassis no. 412041, was sold by RM Sotheby’s in 2016 for $19.8 million, making it the most expensive pre-war car ever sold. Sotheby’s refers to the 8C as “the Italian equivalent of the Bugatti Atlantic.”
Price: $19.8 Million
Most cars that sell for tens of millions of dollars are from half a century ago. The McLaren F1 debuted in 1992 and it already has an astronomical value. The F1 LM is the most expensive McLaren and is famous for honoring the five F1 GTRs that competed at Le Mans in 1995 and finished 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 13th. The F1 is equipped with a naturally aspirated 6.1-liter V12 engine that delivers 618 hp. Only six F1 LM’s were built. Chassis no. 018 seen here sold for $19.8 million in 2019 by RM Sotheby’s.
Price: $20.5 Million
A 1995 McLaren F1 was on the auction block in Monterey just two weeks ago. This one was painted in Creighton Brown with Brazilian Brown upholstery. It was originally sold to a buyer in Japan and stayed there with the original owner until 2012. This model was rarely driven as the odometer reads fewer than 390 kilometers, which is around 250 miles. Chassis no. 029 sold for $20.5 million by Gooding & Company.
Price: $21 million
The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 was built to race at Le Mans and compete for the championship. The car was driven by world champion Phil Hill and Belgian racing veteran Lucien Bianchi. Powered by a straight-six engine producing 345 hp, the DP215 was the first car to reach the 300 km/h mark (198.6 mph). This car was sold at auction by RM Sotheby’s in 2018 for $21.4 million.
Price: $21.7 million
The Jaguar D-Type was victorious at Le Mans in 1956, where it was driven by Sottish racing team Ecurie Ecosse. Bearing a Scottish blue skin, the D-Type was equipped with an inline-six cylinder engine that delivered 250 hp. After Ecurie Ecosse’ stewardship, this D-Type was owned by two private parties and had been kept in pristine condition. This D-Type chassis no. XKD 501 was auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in 2016 and sold for$21.7 million.
Price: $22 million
The 1935 Duesenberg SSJ is an American automotive legend. The SSJ draws power from a dual-supercharged, inline-eight-cylinder engine supplying 400-hp. This SSJ is just one of two built and it was originally delivered to American movie star and three-time Academy Award winner Gary Cooper. The car has changed hands twice since its delivery and was sold at auction by Gooding & Company in 2018. The SSJ with chassis no. 2594 went for a staggering price of $22 million, making it the most expensive American car ever sold.
Price: $22 Million
The Ferrari 290 MM was built to compete in the 1956 Millie Miglia, which it won with Eugenio Castellotti behind the wheel. Only four 290 MMs were built, and just three remain. This 290 MM with chassis no. 0628, was sold at auction by RM Sotheby’s for $22 million in 2018.
Price: $22.5 million
The Aston Martin DBR1 is the most successful race car in Aston Martin history, with wins at Le Mans in 1959 and at the Nürburgring 1000 among its accolades. This particular car, the first DBR1 to be built and bearing chassis no. DBR1/1, counts racing legends Sir Stirling Moss and Caroll Shelby among its pilots. It was sold by RM Sotheby’s for $22.5 million in 2017.
Price: $26.4 million
The Ferrari 275 GTB was built to compete with the Ford GT40 and Shelby Cobra Daytona in 1965. The 275 GTB/C Speciale by Scaglietti was a tuned version of the regular 275 but with 70 more horsepower, bringing it to 320-hp. Italian coachbuilder Scaglietti started collaborating with Ferrari in the 1950s. The 275 GTB/C Speciale they designed together is among the rarest Ferraris as only three models were built, with chassis no. 06701 being sold at auction for $26.4 million in 2014.
Price: $27.5 million
Another iconic 275 was the GTB/4 N.A.R.T. Spyder. N.A.R.T. was, of course, Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team, which fielded Ferraris at races in the U.S. and France. Chinetti was Ferrari’s U.S distributor, a man who had Ferrari’s ear when it came to designing new models. The Spyder was one such creation. The car was powered by a 300-hp V12, which was a lot for 1967. Chassis no. 10709—which had been raced by Autoweek’s own Denise McCluggage at Sebring—was one of just 10 275 GTB/4 NART Spiders ever built. It sold for $27.5 million.
Price: $28 million
A different 1956 Ferrari 290 MM sold in 2018 for $22 million, but this 290 MM, chassis no. 0626, fetched $28 million in 2015. This car was built for five-time Formula 1 Champion, Juan Manuel Fangio to race at the 1956 Millie Miglia, where it finished in 4th place.
Price: $29.6 million
The 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R raced in Formula 1 during the 1954 and 1955 seasons. It won back-to-back drivers championships under the command of Juan Manuel Fangio and was sold at auction in its “authentic” condition. The W196 still has dents and blemishes throughout the body that were caused during two seasons of intense racing. The W196 sold for $29.6 million by Bonhams in 2013.
Price: $35.7 million
The 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti is one of the most beautifully shaped Ferraris ever made, with its curving lines and bright Rosso Corsa paint. It is famous for bringing home the World Manufacturers Championship in 1957 but competed in countless other races. This 335 is one of four built, chassis no. 0674, and sold at auction with a price of $35.7 million.
Price: $38.1 million
There are expensive cars, and then there is the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. It was the winner of three consecutive FIA World GT Championships. The 250 GTO is equipped with a five-speed manual transmission and a V12 engine that put out 296 hp. In 2014, this 250 GTO, chassis no. 3851GT, sold at auction for $38.1 million by Bonhams.
Price: $48.4 million
The original price of a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO was $18,000. In 2018, the Ferrari 250 GTO by Scaglietti chassis no. 3413 GT sold for $48.4 million and is currently the record for the most expensive car sold at auction. It was the third of 36 GTOs to be built. RM Sotheby’s describes the car as “the world’s most important, desirable, and legendary motor car.” Another 250 GTO, chassis no. 4135GT, sold for a record price around $70 million in a private sale to the founder of WeatherTech, David McNeil.
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