Ah, to have pockets as deep as the Marianas Trench. You’d have to park something pretty good in the garage, wouldn’t you? No, not a too-pedestrian Aventador or run-of-the-mill McLaren P1. Why, anybody can just buy one of those (sort of). In the immortal words of Nicholas Cage in Gone in 60 Seconds, “There’s too many self-Indulgent wieners in this city with too much bloody money! Now, if I was driving a 1967 275 GTB four-cam…”
Why, you’d be a connoisseur, sir. Here, then, are the 10 most expensive cars ever sold at auction, each one a piece of rolling artwork.
1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider
At $16,830,000, this thing’s a bargain. Oh wait, that’s US dollars – might need to borrow some money from Grandma. Just 37 copies of this Scaglietti-bodied roadster were ever made, and this svelte delight sold at the hoity-toity Pebble Beach auctions to one lucky buyer. As Ferris Bueller would say, if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.
1964 Ferrari 250 LM
Part thoroughbred, part curiosity, the 250LM is an evolution of Ferrari’s racing breed, among the first to have its screaming V12 mid-mounted. A midship engine brings the centre of gravity inboard of both axles, reducing the car’s tendency towards polar momentum; thus, theoretically better handling. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite good enough to hold off the mighty Ford GT40 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This example, the 23rd of 32 total, sold for $17.6M, US.
1954 Ferrari 375 Spider Competizione
This race-bred two-seater earned its “competizione” appellation and then some, winning at Le Mans. A gilded chariot from the golden age of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, this is a classic Ferrari recipe: V12 up front, spoke wheels with racing knock-off hubs, teeny-tiny windshield. At the oddly specific figure of US$18,400,177, you’d have to be brave to drive one on the street – and even braver to drive it at the track.
1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider
Another Spider on our list (and yes, another Ferrari – Ferrari is the Van Gogh of automotive art), this shabby-looking thing is entirely original. Found in a collection of abandoned machines, it wears a patina of authenticity that the shiniest restoration can’t match. As such, it’s even more valuable, selling for a staggering $18.5M US last year in Paris. Sorry, patina won’t add value to your Honda Civic.
1964 Ferrari 275 GTB / C Speciale Scaglietti
Another coachbuilt special from Carrozzeria Scaglietti, the handmade 255 GTB was a replacement for the iconic 250 GTO. Extremely rare, just three of these were made, one of which didn’t end up competing in endurance racing. Chassis number 06701 sold in Monterey, California, during the high fever of car week, for a colossal $26.4M US.
1964 Ferrari 275 GTB / 4 NART Spider
Luigi Chinetti lived an interesting life. A mechanic and racing driver born near Milan, he left Italy as Benito Mussolini and his fascist party came to power, and found freedom first in Paris and then the US. He raced at Le Mans repeatedly, competing 12 times and winning thrice. In the US, he struck a deal with Enzo to become the sole Ferrari dealer, and his special relationship with Il Commentadore allowed him to create special models such as this drop-top 275; the NART designation is for Chinetti’s North American Racing Team. In 2013 it sold for $27.5M US in Monterey.
1956 Ferrari 290 MM Spyder Scaglietti
Built for the Mille Miglia and to the specification of five-time Formula One World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio, this multi-coloured two seater is rich in history. Bodied again by Scaglietti, the bump behind the driver’s seat is intended to provide slipperier aerodynamics. Enzo at first hated this innovation, dreamed up by Scaglietti himself, but his son Dino soon convinced him of its value. Speaking of value, this car sold for US$28,050,000 in New York.
1954 Mercedes-Benz W196
It’s not a Ferrari! Also piloted by the great Fangio, this Formula One racing machine was driven to two back-to-back victories en route to the championship win for the 1954 season. It is the only post-war “Silver Arrow” racing Mercedes in private hands, and when it fetched $29.6M at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed, it was for a brief time the most expensive car in the world.
1957 Ferrari 335 Scaglietti Sport
The latest champion to add to the list, this remarkable Ferrari nearly came away with the trophy for world’s most expensive car when it sold in February in Paris for the equivalent of $37.5M US. A participant in everything from the Mille Miglia to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 355 had everything needed to make it one of the most desirable cars in the world. However, there is one greater.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
Rarity is part of it. Race provenance is another. However, what makes the Ferrari GTO the most expensive Ferrari – and thus most expensive car – in the world is beauty, pure and simple. Designed to win the world championship in GT-class racing, the Gran Turismo Omologato just so happens to be one of the best-looking things human hands have ever created. It stands proudly atop the podium, having fetched US$38,115,000, and currently reigns as the most expensive car ever sold.
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