Serious collectors will spare no expense when it comes to buying a rare or treasured vehicle. Some of the most sought after cars in the world have fetched truly outrageous sums of money at auctions. Whether it’s the heat of the moment, the desire to outbid a rival, or the fact that money really is no object, serious collectors will spend freely. Rare and expensive vehicles regularly sell for seven (and eight) figures in leading auctions around the globe. Here are the ten most expensive cars ever sold at auction. And the reasons why they are worth all that money.
10. 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe – $7.7 million
The Shelby Cobra is a classic car. Only six racing coupe versions of the vehicle were ever produced. That makes this particular model extremely rare. So, it’s not too surprising that a collector paid a whopping $7.7 million in 2009 to own one. After all, it’s not easy to find a racing coupe Shelby Cobras for sale.
The car that was sold at auction had an added distinction. It was the same vehicle that won the 24 Hours of Daytona race in 1965. It also won the Maker’s Championship in Reims, France. The classic body and original blue colored paint made this car very attractive to car collectors. The bidding was crazy when this car hit the auction block.
9. 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Coupe – $8 million
One of the original sports cars, the 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Coupe is super rare. It’s highly sought after by car enthusiasts around the world. The Atalante Coupe that went for auction in 2008 was once owned by a Count in Paris. After that, it had long been in the private collection of Bugatti collector Dr. Peter Williamson.
After Williamson’s death, the car was put up for auction. It sold for $8 million. This Bugatti contained the original window glass and tan leather seats. Those featured made it even more valuable. The sale of also helped contribute to a worthwhile cause. The $8 million in proceeds was donated to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire.
8. 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster – $8.3 million
The year 1937 seems to have been a good one for cars. This particular Mercedes-Benz Roadster sold in London, England in 2007 for $8.3 million. The unique feature on this car is the supercharged 540K engine. It was designed and engineered by Ferdinand Porsche. Yes, that “Porsche.”
This car had been meticulously restored over the years, to the point where it won an award from the prestigious Antique Automobile Club of America in 1987. It also earned a special mention at the Pebble Beach Auto Show in 1988. This Benz was so revered, that it was once bought and owned for years by Formula One head honcho Bernie Ecclestone.
7. 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM Testa Rossa – $9.3 million
Ah, the Ferrari Testa Rossa. This car, in a variety of different models, is much coveted by car collectors everywhere. At an Italian auction in 2007, one collector forked out $9.3 million to get his hands on the vintage 1962 330 TRI/LM Testa Rossa.
This particular vehicle is distinguished by the fact that it is one of the first mid-engine car models engineered by Ferrari. Oh, and it won Le Mans in 1962. The car also has a V12 engine, totally independent suspension, and tons of extra components to improve the car’s overall power and maneuverability. It’s a dream for any serious car collector. As usual, this Ferrari lives up to its reputation.
6. 1937 Mercedes-Benz Special Roadster (Convertible Version) – $9.7 million
Perhaps the only thing more rare than the Mercedes Roadster already featured on this list is a convertible version of the same car. American car collector Sam Mann bought this car in 2007 at a California auction for the princely sum of $9.7 million. It’s truly exquisite, boasting a gorgeous and perfectly intact body that is longer than other versions of this car.
Mann has been displaying this classic car at automotive shows around the world. He’s also been winning awards in the process. Everyone who sees this car is floored by its elegance, class, and the way the vehicle has been preserved.
5. 1931 Bugatti Royale Type 41 Kellner Coupe – $9.8 million
In the early 1930s, just as the Great Depression descended, car maker Ettore Bugatti designed a luxury car to top all others. He planned to sell it royalty around the world. It would be only for official functions and high profile public appearances.
However, royal families throughout Europe balked at the steep price. In the end, only six of the Bugatti Royale Type 41 Kellner Coupe were ever manufactured. Only three of them were actually sold. To say this car is rare is an understatement.
Legend has it that Bugatti himself had one of these cars hidden behind a brick wall in his manufacturing plant to keep it from the Nazis who raided his facilities during World War II. No wonder this car fetched nearly $10 million at a London auction back in 1987. Plus, the car is powered by a vintage 12.7 liter airplane engine.
4. 1931 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Bodied Coupe – $10.3 million
Ever wonder what kind of a car you can buy with $10 million? Well, it can get you a hard to find 1931 Duesenburg Model J Murphy Bodied Coupe. The Model J was designed by American industrialist and chocolatier Frank Hershey. It was built on a truck frame, leading the few people who have had the privilege to drive it to remark that it’s literally like driving around a large truck.
Fewer than 500 of the Model Js were built before the short-lived Duesenburg company went out of business in 1937. However, in their heyday this car was owned and driven by movie stars such as Clark Gable and James Cagney, as well as the British Royal family.
3. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder – $10.9 million
The Ferrari Spyder is considered the Holy Grail of classic cars by many collectors. This car truly is the essence of cool. That’s why it garnered nearly $11 million at an auction held in Italy back in 2008. This Ferrari is famous for having a special three-liter V12 engine. That kind of power plant was revolutionary back in the 1960s. It helped to influence the manufacturing of many Ferraris that came after.
Academy Award winning actor James Coburn owned this particular car from 1964 to 1988. He reportedly resisted many attempts by his friend, actor Steve McQueen, to buy the car. In 2008, it was bought at auction by British radio personality Chris Evans. He paid a then-record sum for the car, which is one of the coolest and sleekest convertibles ever built.
2. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – $12.4 million
Fewer than 20 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossas were ever built. That makes them a legendary addition to the car maker’s cannon. This particular model, which sold at a 2009 auction for more than $12 million, could boast that it won Le Mans. It also contained its original brakes and axle, as well as its racing number at Le Mans.
The $12.4 million paid for this 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa was a then-record. It was the highest amount paid for a car at auction. The record held for all of two years. That’s when another 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sold for even more money, shattering all previous records…
1. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – $16.4 million
At an auction held in Monterey, California, in 2011, a private collector shelled out $16.4 million for a vintage 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa. The car in question was an original prototype of the classic Testa Rossa line. It had been featured in multiple races during the 1960s, including Le Mans, Nurburgring, and Sebring.
The Ferrari also featured its original “pontoon” body and had a three-liter, V12 engine under the hood. Add in the cherry red color and you can see why this vehicle was hard to resist. The $16.4 million paid for this car is the most ever shelled out for a Ferrari (or any other car) sold at auction. As Ferris Bueller famously said, “Ferrari. Accept no substitutes.”