1 1955 mercedes benz 300 slr uhlenhaut coupe 142 769 250

20 Most Expensive Cars Ever Sold

We all know how expensive cars can get, right? Between registration, licensing and fuel, the bills stack up, but what you may not realise is just how much the big end of town is willing to drop on a classic Ferrari, Aston Martin or McLaren. In fact, the figures swell into the high millions, however, it was a recent auction by Mercedes Benz that stunned the world, reporting an astronomical USD$143 million! We know what you’re thinking, who on earth can afford that? Well, truth be told, the most expensive cars are not only great to look at, but a true vision of mechanical engineering, so it’s little surprise collectors across the globe simply can’t resist. With most classic cars selling at auction for more than $30 million these days, it’s worth diving deep into the barn to figure out if that ageing mound is really a hidden gem. With that in mind, here are the most expensive cars ever sold, to get you drooling.

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1 1955 mercedes benz 300 slr uhlenhaut coupe 142 769 250 2

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe | Image: RM Sotheby’s

1. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe – $142,769,250

The 300 SLR Uhlenhaut coupe is an example of an amazing transformation from the toughest endurance racing car into the greatest prototype road car the world had ever seen. Widely regarded as the most aesthetic vehicle ever produced, the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe features a skeleton undoubtedly derived from a racing car, with an uncompromising driving position, accessed via the innovative “gull wing” doors. Its mechanical workings dominate its interior space, and the accelerator pedal is dressed in leather to reduce foot slippage while driving.

This specific edition was the creation of pioneering Mercedes-Benz designer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, earning this car its 300 SLR ‘Uhlenhaut Coupé’ nickname. When it was originally released, the vehicle was the fastest road-going car in the world, with Sotheby’s claiming it was capable of reaching speeds of up to 290 km/h. The vehicle in question was restored by race preparation specialist, Tony Merrick, in 1988 and features a 3.0-litre, front-mounted, straight-eight engine, complete with twin exhausts that exit via side-mounted gills positioned halfway across the length of the 300 SLR.

When it was prepped for sale in early 2022, auction house Sotheby’s confirmed that no other 300 SLR exists in private hands, meaning it was likely the last real opportunity to get behind the wheel of this true masterpiece of innovative 1950s motorsport engineering and technology.

Brand: Mercedes-Benz
Model: 300 SLR Uhlenhaur Coupe
Year: 1955
Designer: Rudolf Uhlenhaut
Sale Price: USD$142,769,250
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Engine: 3.0-litre, front-mounted, straight-eight engine

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2 1963 ferrari 250 gto 70 000 000

1963 Ferrari 250 GTO | Image: Bonhams

2. 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO – $70,000,000

This pristine 1963 Ferrari is durable and extremely sexy, making it one of the most expensive cars ever sold, but it’s not just good looks that put this vehicle in the record books. The famed car won the Tour de France the year after it was built and got its record price tag through never having crashed in its 55-year lifespan. It has a colourful racing history, having competed in the 1963 Le Mans 24 Hours, Angolan Grand Prix and others, which makes this 250 GTO’s uncrushed status all the more remarkable.

According to Autocar, DK Ferrari restoration specialist DK Engineering restored the car in the 1990s, however, the new owner American businessman David MacNeil actually bought the car from German racing driver Christian Glaesel.

Brand: Ferrari
Model: 250 GTO
Year: 1963
Sale Price: USD$70,000,000
Auction House: Bonhams

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3 1962 ferrari 250 gto 48 405 000

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO | Image: Sotheby’s

3. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – $48,405,000

Coming in at a cool $48,405,00, this legendary motor car is the car of every man’s dreams. The car is considered by marque experts to be one of the most authentic and original of all GTO examples. The car itself boasts that classic Ferrari look we all know and love, and has the motor to match, with over 15 class and overall wins during the 1962–1965 seasons. The vehicle in question is one of four upgraded in period by Ferrari producer Scaglietti with Series II GTO/64, and just one of seven to ever receive this more aggressive and successful coachwork.

According to Sotheby’s, the coachwork, which was innovative for the time, featured an extended, lowered nose, and a steeper windshield to reduce drag while maximizing downforce. Under the hood, the vehicle copped a 3.0-litre short-block Colombo V-12, which in tipo 168/62 competizione form featured six carburettors and larger valves. The third of only 36 GTOs built; this model was driven by Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi to victory in the 1962 Italian GT Championship.

Brand: Ferrari
Model: 250 GTO
Year: 1962
Sale Price: USD$48,405,000
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Engine: 3-litre V12 engine

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4 1962 ferrari 250 gto 38 115 000

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO | Image: Bonhams

4. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – $38,115,000

The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta was sold in auction in California for $38,115,000 in 2014 to become the most expensive car to be sold at auction at the time. Since then, the Ferrari GTO has been the subject of intense international interest. The striking bright red collector’s car is speedy, good-looking and the envy of car collectors across the globe, and we can’t blame them.

“It’s been a genuine privilege to represent this outstanding car and we are absolutely delighted with today’s results,” Robert Brooks, chairman of Bonhams said at the time. “We’ve always maintained that we would exceed the current world record and that the car would bring between $30-$40-million and today the GTO did just that.”

Brand: Ferrari
Model: 250 GTO
Year: 1962
Sale Price: USD$38,115,000
Auction House: Bonhams
Engine: 3-litre V12 engine

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5 1957 ferrari 335 sport scaglietti 35 700 000

1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti | Image: Artcurial

5. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti – $35,700,000

Yet another Ferrari to make the list, the 1957 Ferrari 335 Sports Scaglietti is an exceptional car that deserves all the recognition it can get. This car enabled Ferrari to win the Constructors’ World Championship Title in 1957 and with its outstanding engineering and perfect exterior combined with its great drivers, it’s no secret why this car sold for the price it did. This car has it all.

Brand: Ferrari
Model: 355 Sport Scaglietti
Year: 1957
Sale Price: USD$35,700,000
Designer: Scaglietti
Auction House: Artcurial
Engine: Four-cam 3.8-litre V12 Tipo 140 engine

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6 1954 mercedes benz w196 29 600 000

1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 | Image: Bonhams

6. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 – $29,600,000

In 2013, the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 became one of the most expensive cars ever sold, selling for an impressive $29,600,00. The car is internationally acclaimed, as the ex-Juan Manuell Fansgio, Hans Herrmann, Karl Kling, german and swiss grand Prix winning formula one racing car. With success this unrivalled, we can understand why this car is now a monument of not only mechanical expertise but to modern Germany’s resurgence. According to Bonhams, this specific vehicle is the only surviving Mercedes-Benz W196 to have won not just one World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix race, but two.

“It is the first open-wheel version of the landmark W196 design ever to have won a race, and it is the actual car in which Fangio clinched the second of his five Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship titles,” Bonhams wrote. “It is to be offered in remarkably unspoiled, almost ‘barn-find’ condition – its super-sophisticated mechanicals believed to be complete and runnable after proper preparation – and it is a Grand Prix car in whose presence enthusiasts simply stand and stare…”

Brand: Mercedes-Benz
Model: W196
Year: 1954
Sale Price: USD$29,600,000
Auction House: Bonhams
Engine: 2.5-litre straight-8 W196
Chassis Design: Multi-tubular ‘spaceframe’ lightweight chassis

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7 1956 ferrari 290 mm 28 050 000

1956 Ferrari 290 MM | Image: Sotheby’s

7. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM – $28,050,000

This irrefutable piece of automotive history has an extensive and documented racing history, making it one of the most expensive cars ever sold. The 290 MM was built to contest the World Sportscar Championship, and no surprise, was immediately successful with championship wins in 1953 and 1954. It features a 320 bhp engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with helical springs and anti-roll bar, De Dion rear axle with transverse leaf spring, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes.

Brand: Ferrari
Model: 290 MM
Year: 1956
Designer: Carrozzeria Scaglietti
Sale Price: USD$28,050,000
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Engine: 320 bhp, 3,490 cc SOHC 60-degree Type 130 dry-sump V-12
Transmission: Four-speed manual transmission
Wheelbase: 92.52 in
Carburettors: Triple Weber twin-choke 46 DCF3

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8 1967 ferrari 275 gtb 4 s nart spider 27 500 000

1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider | Image: RM Sotheby’s

8. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider – $27,500,000

One of only ten highly desirable N.A.R.T Spiders ever built, this 1967 Ferrari 257 could even be seen as a steal, sold for $27,500,000 in 2013. The car itself features a 300 bhp 3,286 cc four overhead-camshaft V-12 engine, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel upper and lower wishbone independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and tubular steel frame.

Brand: Ferrari
Model: 275 GTB/AS NART Spider
Year: 1967
Sale Price: USD$27,500,000
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Engine: 300 bhp 3,286 cc four overhead-camshaft V-12 engine
Transmission: Five-speed manual transmission

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9 1964 ferrari 275 gtb c speciale 26 400 000

1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale | Image: RM Sotheby’s

9. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale – $26,400,000

The first of only three Works Berlinetta Competizione cars built; rarer than its 250 GTO siblings, the 1964 Ferrari 275 is a historic, unique automobile that deserves all the praise. The car is a superb historic racing and rallying entrant, with an original matching-numbers engine. It also features a five-speed manual transaxle transmission, four-wheel upper and lower wishbone coil-spring independent suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes.

Brand: Ferrari
Model: 275 GTB/C Speciale
Year: 1964
Sale Price: USD$26,400,000
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Engine:320 hp, Type 213/Comp 3,286 lightweight block V-12 engine with six Weber 38 DCN carburettors
Transmission: Five-speed manual transaxle transmission

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10 1956 aston martin dbr1 22 550 000

1956 Aston Martin DBR1 | Image: RM Sotheby’s

10. 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 – $22,550,000

About time we welcomed an Aston Martin to the list of the most expensive cars ever sold! This car is the first of five DBR1s and was the Winner of the 1959 Nürburgring 1000 KM, raced by Roy Salvadori, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, and Carroll Shelby. The unique model is fitted with the correct reproduction engine for racing and offered with the original maintained by Aston Martin specialists R.S. Williams.

According to Sotheby’s, for the 1956 season, the vehicle was was mated to a 2,493-cc RB6 engine (RDP5053/1) with 212 bhp at 7,000 rpm. On its 24 Hours debut, DBR1/1 ran well for 20 hours until running its bearings; 2nd place at both the British Empire Trophy and Easter Goodwood meetings followed early in 1957. It went through a number of different owners since then, however, everything on the inside remains almost perfectly era-authentic. Arguably the most important Aston Martin ever built, the DBR1 is worth every penny.

Brand: Aston Martin
Model: DBR1
Year: 1956
Designer: Ted Cutting
Sale Price: USD$22,550,000
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Engine: 3.0-litre RB6, 2,922-cc 242 bhp/255 bhp at 6,000 rpm

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11 1956 ferrari 290 mm 22 005 000

1956 Ferrari 290 MM | Image: RM Sotheby’s

11. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM – $22,005,000

Raced as an official Scuderia Ferrari Works car for the 1956 and 1957 seasons, the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM has been the means for various podium winnings. Not only did the car succeed on the tracks, but it is also sought after due to its rarity, the final of four examples built and among only three surviving examples, no doubt a huge contributing factor towards its epic sale in 2018 of $22,005,000. It has been expertly restored and is Ferrari Classiche certified, with matching-numbers engine, gearbox, and original body

Brand: Ferrari
Model: 290 MM
Year: 1956
Designer: Scuderia Ferrari Works
Sale Price: USD$22,005,000
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Engine: 290 MM Tipo 130 V-12 with single overhead camshafts

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12 1935 duesenberg ssj 22 000 000

1935 Duesenberg SSJ | Image: Gooding Co.

12. 1935 Duesenberg SSJ – $22,000,000

The 1935 Duesenberg SSJ is one of only two SSJs ever built, which is just one reason why it sold for an astonishing $22,000,000 at auction. The car boasts an impressive Short-Wheelbase Chassis and Supercharged, Twin-Carb Engine, all nicely secured within a sporting open coachwork designed by J. Herbert Newport Jr. This car is the real deal – unrestored condition, retaining original Chassis, Engine, and Bodywork- just what we like to see.

Brand: Duesenberg
Model: SSJ
Year: 1935
Coachwork: LaGrande
Sale Price: USD$22,000,000
Auction House: Gooding Co.
Engine: 420 CID DOHC 32-Valve Inline 8-Cylinder Engine, Centrifugal Supercharger
Transmission: 3-Speed Manual Gearbox

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13 1955 jaguar d type 21 780 000

1955 Jaguar D-Type | Image: RM Sotheby’s

13. 1955 Jaguar D-Type – $21,780,000

A Jaguar like no other, the 1955 D-Type is worth the $21,780,000 it sold for, and some. The car is truly legendary, the overall winner of the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans, raced by Ecurie Ecosse and the only Le Mans-winning C- or D-Type that has survived intact and remained essentially original to its winning form. One of the most valuable Jaguars in the world, it features a 250 bhp, 3,442 cc DOHC inline six-cylinder engine with three Weber 45 DCO3 carburettors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension, live rear axle trailing links and transverse torsion bar, and four-wheel disc brakes.

Brand: Jaguar
Model: D-Type
Year: 1955
Designer: Ted Cutting
Sale Price: USD$21,780,000
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Engine: 250 bhp, 3,442 cc DOHC inline six-cylinder
Transmission: four-speed manual transmission

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14 1963 aston martin dp215 21 455 000

1963 Aston Martin DP215 | Image: RM Sotheby’s

14. 1963 Aston Martin DP215 – $21,455,000

The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 is one of the most significant one-off Works Aston Martin, also making it one of the most expensive cars ever sold. The car is fitted with its original engine and correct-type five-speed gearbox, held together by a 1963 Works-built Hiduminium body. The fast-as-ever car clocked at 198.6 mph on the Mulsanne Straight and has been restored expertly, with the help of the car’s original designer.

Brand: Aston Martin
Model: DP215
Year: 1963
Designer: Ted Cutting
Sale Price: USD$21,455,000
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Engine: Four-liter version of the DP212 six-cylinder twin plug
Transmission: David Brown S432 four-speed gearbox

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15 1995 mclaren f1 20 465 000

1995 McLaren F1 | Image: Gooding Co.

15. 1995 McLaren F1 – $20,465,000

Estimated to sell for $5,000,000 less than its actual selling price, the 1995 McLaren F1 is a car that continuously outperforms itself. One of only 64 examples built, the car is visually spectacular, with a singular colour scheme of Creighton brown with light tan and Brazilian brown upholstery. It was sold in exceptional condition and offers a 6,064 CC S70/2 DOHC V-12 engine, 6-speed manual transaxle, 4-wheel ventilated Brembo disc brakes and 4-wheel independent double-wishbone suspension.

Brand: McLaren
Model: F1
Year: 1995
Designer: Gordon Murray
Sale Price: USD$20,465,000
Auction House: Gooding Co.
Engine: 6,064 CC S70/2 DOHC V-12 Engine, Sequential Closed-Loop Fuel Injection
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual Transaxle

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16 1994 mclaren f1 lm specification 19 805 000

1994 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’ | Image: RM Sotheby’s

16. 1994 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’ – $19,805,000

A once in a lifetime opportunity for collectors, the McLaren F1 is a supercar that knows no critic. The car is known for its aesthetic appeal, combined with technical austerity and impressive competition record. The car is equipped with an unrestricted GTR racing engine and Extra-High Downforce Kit and is by far one of the most celebrated modern production sports cars.

Brand: McLaren
Model: F1 LM Specification
Year: 1994
Designer: Gordon Murray
Sale Price: USD$19,805,000
Auction House: Sotheby’s
Engine: 680 hp GTR specification

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17 1939 alfa romeo 8c 2900b lungo spider 19 800 000

1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider | Image: RM Sotheby’s

17. 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider – $19,800,000

If you’re a dedicated fan of Italian sports cars, this one is sure to tickle your fancy. Often regarded as the Italian equivalent of the Bugatti Atlantic, this car is one of approximately 12 extant Touring Spiders and the first “Immortal 2.9” to be offered at public auction this century. Its unique features include a double-wishbone independent front suspension with coil springs over dampers and hydraulic friction dampers.

Brand: Alfa Romeo
Model: 8C 2900B Lungo Spider
Year: 1939
Designer: Carrozzeria Alfa
Sale Price: USD$19,800,000
Auction House: Sotheby’s

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18 1939 alfa romeo 8c 2900b touring berlinetta 18 997 883

1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta | Image: Artcurial

18. 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta – $18,997,883

One of the most exclusive Alfa Romeo cars to ever exist and one of the most expensive cars ever sold, racking in just under a cool $19,000,000 at its sale in 2019. With less than 50 examples produced, only five of them are of the legendary form of the Touring Berlinetta- which makes this one of the rarest cars in the world.

Brand: Alfa Romeo
Model: 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta
Year: 1939
Designer: Carrozzeria Alfa
Sale Price: USD$18,997,883
Auction House: Artcurial
Engine: 2.9-litre two cylinder (Rebuilt)

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19 1961 ferrari 250 gt swb california spider 18 454 304

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider | Image: Artcurial

19. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider – $18,454,304

The jet black paint of this iconic vehicle is enough in itself to get the blood pumping, so no wonder it sold for such an expensive amount! Considered to be one of the most beautiful cabriolets of the second half of the 20th century, the car has never been restored which means everything you see is entirely original.

Brand: Ferrari
Model: 250 GT SWB California Spider
Year: 1961
Designer: Carrozzeria Pininfarina/Scaglietti
Sale Price: USD$18,454,304
Auction House: Artcurial

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20 1954 ferrari 375 plus spider competizione 18 400 177

1954 Ferrari 375-Plus Spider Competizione | Image: Bonhams

20. 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus Spider Competizione – $18,400,177

What better way to round up the most expensive cars ever sold with another Ferrari! The 1954 375-Plus Spider Competizione is all about that speed, with unparalleled racing ability and durability. The car remains one of the biggest-engined, most powerful and most important sports-racing Ferrari models ever made.

Brand: Ferrari
Model: 375-Plus Spider Competizione
Year: 1954
Designer: Carrozzeria Pininfarina
Sale Price: USD$18,400,177
Auction House: Bonhams

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General FAQs

What is the most expensive car ever sold?

The most expensive car ever sold is the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, which sold for $143 million in 2022.

How much is a Ferrari 250 GTO worth?

A Ferrari 250 GTO is worth $48 million.

What is the most expensive Ferrari ever?

The most expensive Ferrari ever is the 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, which sold in 2013 for $70 million.

CONTRIBUTOR

Aimee O'Keefe

Aimee O’Keefe is a Sydney-based freelance writer with a background in fashion, entertainment and technology coverage. She completed a Bachelor's degree in Media and Communications at the University of Sydney and has previously worked with Universal Magazines and the Ministry of Style. She currently works as Content Writer for a leading digital marketing agency.