Classic cars creates much buzz every year, with top classic car auction houses such as RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams, H&H Classics, Gooding & Co, Barrett Jackson, Artcurial, Aguttes, Russo and Steele, hosting some of the most popular auction events.
Tracked by Barnebys, here is a list of the ten most expensive, timeless classic cars ever sold at auctions.
Distinguished automotive brands such as Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin or Bugatti, have been attracting a broader audiences each year and are the object of fierce auctions. The auction zeal is further fuelled by the increasing internationalisation of auction houses sales around the globe and the ease of online bidding, as discussed in our recent article on the changing strategies of auction houses.
According to “The Wealth Report” published by Knight Frank, classic cars are a better long-term investment than art, showing an impressive progression of 334% over the past decade.
1. Ferrari 250 GTO, 1962 – sold for $38, 115, 000 at Bonhams in 2014
Sold for $38,115,000 during the summer 2014, this Ferrari 250 GTO holds the world record for a sale in a public auction house.
This GTO was the masterpiece of the “Maranello Rosso” collection, formerly belonging to Fabrizio Violati, who sadly passed away in 2010. The 250 GTO is widely admired and commands pole position at the top of our top ten.
2. Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti, 1957 – sold for £35, 711, 359 at Artcurial in 2016
At one of the most exceptional sales of 2016, the Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti became the second most expensive car in the world when sold by “Artcurial Retromobile.”
The car was launched in 1957 and driven by legendary racers like Stirling Moss, Wolfgang von Trips and Maurice Trintignant and was part of Pierre Bardon’s collection, founder of the Mas du Clos, deceased in 2012.
3. Mercedes Benz W196 1954 – sold for $29 650 095 at Bonhams in 2013
During the prestigious Goodwood “Festival of Speed”, Bonhams offered at this impressive Mercedes-Benz W196 from 1954.
The “Silver Arrow” is equipped with the innovative bloc 2.5 litres 8 cylinders in line and a chassis numbered 0006/54 and was introduced to competition the day before the Formula 1 German Grand Prix’s kick off.
Driven by Juan Manuel Fangio, this Mercedes-Benz W196 won both the Swiss and German Grand Prix in 1954, which contributed to the extraordianry profile of the Argentinian driver.
4. Ferrari 290 MM par Scaglietti, 1956, sold for $28, 050, 000 at RM Sotheby’s in 2015
This vehicle was developed specifically to give a new start to the Italian brand, which was defeated by Mercedes-Benz during the Formula 1 World Championship in 1955.
Maserati then entered in the game with a brand new car, the fabulous 300S. This was the sign for Ferrari that it is time to get back in the race with a new challenger ready to reclaim its race winning performance. The 290 MM by Scagliettii was created the following year and decades later became the fourth most expensive car ever sold at auctions with the record price of $28 050 000.
5. Ferrari 275 GTB:4/S N.A.R.T. Spider, 1967, sold for $27 500 000 at RM Sotheby’s in 2013
In 2013, RM Sotheby’s shook the auction world when it achieved $27 500 000 for this Ferrari 275 GTB:4/S N.A.R.T. Spider, making it the most expensive car sold at auctions at the time.
This beauty was bought brand new in North Carolina by Eddie Smith Sr. in 1968 and stayed within the family until its first appearance on the market, in 2013. The desirable N.A.R.T. Spider is part of a series comprising ten editions.
6. Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale par Scaglietti, 1964, sold for $26, 400, 000 at RM Sotheby’s in 2014
According to RM Sotheby’s, the chance to purchase this 275 CTB/Speciale from 1964 was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The auction achieved $26,400,000 for the car which besides being a top performing racing car, this Ferrari 275 GTB/C is a Berlinetta and first edition from a series of only three. The other two being cherished by private collectors (with no intention to sell), the lot was thus considered as extremely rare.
7. Aston Martin DBR1, 1956, sold for 22 555 000 dollars at RM Sotheby’s in 2017
This first edition from a series of five Aston Martin DBR1 was created in 195 and was described by the auction house as one of the most important prototypes in the brand’s history.
This car holds the record price for an Aston Martin sold at auction. For $22,555,000, a very proud collector became the new owner of the 1959 1000KM of Nürburgring’s winning car.
8. La Jaguar D-Type de 1955, sold for $21,780,000 at RM Sotheby’s in 2016
Built in 1955, this D-Type by Jaguar was one of just 54 made. This impressive racing car was the only one representing the English marque within the top ten most expensive cars in the world at 8th position.
This masterpiece won the legendary Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1956 and achieved $21,780,000 at a sale at RM Sotheby’s in 2016.
9. Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider, 1939, sold for $19,800 000 at RM Sotheby’s in 2016
A price of $19,800,000 was achieved for this car in 2016 at RM Sotheby’s. This Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider designed by Touring is the oldest car holding a place in this top ten of world record prices.
Dating from 1939, the Italian car’s design stemmed from the 1920s, but evolved into a proper racing car. The 8C 2900B wasn’t primarily made for competition, but it represents the best model of a sports car that one could purchase at the time.
10. Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, 1961, sold for $18,500,000 at Artcurial in 2015
Artcurial presented this incredible Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider from 1961 in a highly anticipated sale in 2015 and saw the price reach 18 500 000.
This original edition had never been restored and belonged to a French cinema icon, Alain Delon.
“Classic cars are timeless and continue to attracting new generations of passionate collectors.”
Pontus Silfverstolpe, one of the founders of Barnebys, which hosts no fewer than 3,000 auction houses on its site, says of this fascinating area of the auction world: “Classic cars are timeless and continue to attracting new generations of passionate collectors. True collection pieces, either they are legendary race winners or icons in their brand’s history, still have a bright future at auctions ahead. “
In fact, today on Barnebys, a major online search platform specialised in art, collectibles and antiquities, “vehicles” is one the most searched category, showing the popularity of classic cars.
Barnebys is the world’s leading auction aggregator. Barnebys features, at any given time, over a half million items for sale through about 3,000 auction houses worldwide. Barnebys is fast closing in on the 1.5 million visitors a month mark. The firm employees people in Sweden, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, China and the US.
Find out more at Barnebys website here.