The world of elite classic cars is much crazier than you've imagined
The world of elite classic cars is much crazier than you've imagined RM Sotheby's

Top 10 most expensive cars sold at an auction

This compilation of the world's top 10 most expensive classic cars is sure to make your jaw drop

Supercars and hyper cars are expensive. They demand exorbitant price tags because of what they offer and you get what you pay for. Blistering performance, killer looks and unparalleled exclusivity. The world of new high end vehicles demands millions, but what if we tell you that even the most expensive Bugatti or Pagani is a bargain when compared to what we have here today! Welcome to the crazy world of rare, motorsport conquering classic and vintage cars, which are on a different level when it comes to monetary value. Any one of these is enough to buy you everything you have ever dreamed of and a whole lot more.

Here's a list of the top 10 most expensive cars ever sold at an auction yet:

10. 1935 Duesenberg SSJ

Sold for $22,000,000 (Rs 152.8 crore) by Gooding & Co. in August 2018

You can buy six Bugatti Chirons for the price of the least expensive car on this list. How is that for a start? Duesenberg was an American marque which made high-end luxury cars in the 1920s and 30s. Duesenbergs were known to be very expensive and very fast, as its founders, the Duesenberg brothers, initially established the brand to make race engines and race cars. This particular car is the 1935 SSJ model which is in unrestored condition and one of only two SSJs ever made. It is a sportier version of the Duesenberg Model J and the SS part of its name denotes Short wheelbase and Supercharged. Hollywood legend Gary Cooper ordered this car new. It is powered by a 6.9-litre inline-eight engine which produces 400bhp and was quite ahead of its time with 32 valves and dual overhead cams. The SSJ claimed to have a top speed of 225kmph.

Duesenberg only supplied the chassis to customers, leaving them with the option of giving it to their favourite coachmaker to build a body on top, similar to Rolls-Royce. Just to give you an idea about how extremely expensive the Duesenbergs were, a fully built car demanded a $20,000 price tag back in the 1930s, while a Ford Model A cost $585, roughly 35 times its price.. The great depression compelled the Duesenberg brand to go defunct in 1937.

9. 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 chassis No.1

Sold for $22,550,000 (Rs 156.6 crore) by RM Sotheby's in August 2017

The Aston Martin DBR1 was made to win races and it did that while also winning hearts with its gorgeous styling. This car is the first of the five DBR1's ever made. It won the 1959 Nürburgring 1000km and was driven by legends like Sir Stirling Moss, Carroll Shelby and Jack Brabham. It comes equipped with a more powerful racing engine which develops 301bhp, 60bhp more than the original engine. This DBR1 is also the sister car to the DBR1 that scored a victory at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2017 change of hands has also made it the most expensive British car ever.

8. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale chassis 06701

Sold for $26,400,000 (Rs 183.3 crore) by RM Auctions in August 2014

Not only is the 275 GTB heart-achingly beautiful, but it is also the first production prancing horse that housed the legendary 3.3-litre naturally aspirated Colombo V12 engine. And Ferrari being Ferrari, they made a sportier version of this gentleman's Grand Tourer too, the 275 GTB/C Speciale, which was also intended to be an evolution of the 250 GTO that had dominated endurance racing since 1962. The 275 GTB/C had an extra-thin-gauge alloy bodywork with a more streamlined shape to aid aerodynamics. First of three 275 GTB/C Speciale ever made, this particular model demanded such a high price because of its well-documented provenance and exceptional condition. The 3.3-litre V12, here in competition trim, produces 305bhp.

7. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spider chassis 10709

Sold for $27,500,000 (Rs 191 crore) by RM Auctions in August 2013

The spider version of the 275 GTB was styled by Sergio Scaglietti. It was made by Ferrari on special request by Luigi Chinetti, who was Ferrari's North American dealer. Convertibles sold like hot cakes in the land of Uncle Sam and the Ferrari California Spider had proved that to the folks at Maranello, so Chinetti's request was approved. The 275 GTB/4 Spiders were referred to as NART Spiders, after Chinetti's North American Racing Team. Only 10 NART Spiders were built, because of low sales, 15 less than the intended 25. People who ignored one when new are certainly doubting their life choices now. Mechanically the Spider remained identical to its coupe sibling, but an open top meant you could hear the V12 scream all the up to 8000rpm even better.

6. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM chassis 0626

Sold for $28,050,000 (Rs 194.8 crore) by RM Sotheby's in December 2015

Built to contest in the World Sportscar Championship, the Ferrari Monza Series were a group of cars powered by four or six cylinder engines. But due to stiff competition from Mercedes-Benz with their 300 SLR, Ferrari decided to revert back to their thundering V12s and hence the Ferrari 290 MM was born. It basically was an 860 Monza which was equipped with a 3.5-litre V12 producing 320bhp. One of four 290 MMs made, this particular one was built for the soon to be five-time Formula 1 world champion Juan Manuel Fangio, who drove it to fourth place overall in the 1956 Mille Miglia. A highly commendable position as the race saw 426 cars entered with only 182 finishing.

1956 Ferrari 290 MM chassis 0626
1956 Ferrari 290 MM chassis 0626RM Sotheby's

5. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R chassis No. 00006/54

Sold for $29,600,000 (Rs 205.5 crore) by Bonhams in July 2013

The Mercedes-Benz W196 F1 car marked Germany's comeback to Grand Prix racing in 1954, by winning the French GP. The first time since 1939. It became highly dominant in that season with two more wins and also gave one of its drivers, a certain Juan Manuel Fangio his second Formula 1 Drivers World Championship. Mercedes built just 14 examples of the W196, of which only 10 survived. This particular car is the same car which Fangio raced which makes it very important historically. It is also the only W196 that is privately owned. Mercedes accounts ownership of 6 cars and the remaining three are in museums around the world. Powering the W196 is an inline-eight engine with fuel injection and desmodromic valves, making 286bhp. With only 650 kilos to carry around, this engine made sure the W196 could reach a top speed of 300kmph.

4. 1957 Ferrari 335 S chassis 0674

Sold for $35,730,510 (Rs 248 crore) by Artcurial in February 2016

The 335 S was an evolution of the aforementioned 290 MM. It gained more power and became even faster. A total of only four 335 S were made which makes it one of the rarest cars in the world today. It is powered by a 4.1-litre 394bhp V12 which pushes it all the way to 300kmph. Chassis 0674, which is the one that sold for big bucks, has competed in various races being piloted by very famous drivers. Peter Collins and Maurice Trintignant drove it in the 1957 Sebring 12 Hours, Wolfgang von Trip in the Mille Miglia and Mike Hawthorn in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 335 S is the car responsible for ending the Mille Miglia, after one of its drivers, Alfonso Portago had a fatal accident in its first running of the 1600Km endurance race.

3. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO chassis 3851GT

Sold for $38,115,000 (Rs 264.7 crore) by Bonhams in August 2014

The 250 GTO needs no introduction. It arguably is the most iconic two seat front engined coupe from Maranello. Developed to race in the 1962 3-litre FIA GT World Championship series, it won the world championship title in its first outing and in the following season too. It's 3-litre Colombo V12 produces 296bhp and 294Nm torque. The 250 moniker in its name directly denotes the cubic capacity of each of its cylinders. The 250 GTO is the holy grail of classic car collecting. Only 36 have been made and very rarely does one come up for sale. This car remained in single ownership for 49 years and is the 19th GTO built. It finished second at the 1962 Tour de France race and has many more events under its cards.

1962 ferrari 250 GTO chassis 3851GT
1962 ferrari 250 GTO chassis 3851GTBonhams

2. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Scaglietti chassis 3413GT

Sold for $48,405,000 (Rs 336.2 crore) by RM Sotheby's in August 2018

The second most expensive car sold at an auction ever is currently another Ferrari 250 GTO. Chassis 3413GT left the factory originally as a Series I car before being converted to the highly rare Series II body car soon after. The Series II body work makes the GTO look a lot more like the 250 LM, which to date is the last Ferrari to win the 24 hour of Le Mans outright. This car is the third GTO built and is considered to be one of the most authentic and original of all GTO examples. It won the 1962 Italian GT Championship and has class wins at the 1963 & 64 Targo Florio. It has scored a total of 15 wins during the 1962 to 1965 GT world championship seasons.

1. Mercedes-Benz SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe Prototype #1

Sold for $143.1 million (Rs 1108 crore) by RM Sotheby's in May 2022

Yes, you've read that right. Somebody paid over a thousand crore rupees for a car last year! The car in question is a Mercedes-Benz SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe.

Hailed as the 'Mona Lisa of Cars', it was widely known as a car that would 'never be offered for sale'. And the sale of this vehicle had truly taken classic car collectors by surprise. At a secretive event in the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart, the sale was held at short notice and only chosen customers and collectors were allowed to attend.

According to media reports, Simon Kidston, a British car collector and dealer, took 18 months of patient lobbying to get the board of the company to consider selling the car. In the end, he managed to secure this ultra-rare car for his unnamed client with a winning bid of €135 million (around US$143.1 million), making it the most valuable car ever sold — at a price which exceeds the existing record by more than $90 million.

Built in 1955, the SLR Uhlenhaut was one of the fastest road-going cars in the world at the time, with a top speed of 290kmph. One of the crown jewels of Mercedes-Benz's collection, it is one of just two prototypes created by and named after the company's then racing engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut. Over the years, Mercedes-Benz kept one example in its museum and kept the car that was sold in its secret garage. While it would bear a strong visual resemblance to two of Uhlenhaut’s other noteworthy designs—namely the W194 that won in Le Mans in 1952, and the iconic 300 SL Gullwing— the SLR was essentially based on the 1955 W 196 R Grand Prix car which won two World Championships piloted by Juan Manuel Fangio.

The proceeds of the sale went to the “Mercedes-Benz Fund” which provides educational and research scholarships in the areas of environmental science and decarbonisation for young people.

1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe
1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR Uhlenhaut CoupeMercedes-Benz

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