There are two main types of car auctions. The most common type is where used car lots acquire their inventory of gently used vehicles at cut-rate prices. Other car auctions deal in rare, unique, classic cars that inspire miniature replicas and posters on bedroom and garage walls alike. Ferrari dominates the list of the top 10 most expensive cars sold at car auctions, but the most expensive car ever sold at auction may surprise you.
Most expensive Ferraris sold at car auctions
According to a list published by U.S. News, the top 10 most expensive cars sold at car auctions include seven Ferraris.
The lowest-priced Ferrari on the list is the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM, the last of only four built and second-place finisher at the 1956 Mille Miglia in Italy. It sold at RM Sotheby’s auction in 2018 for $22.0 million.
The next Ferrari on the list is the 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale by Scaglietti, built for the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans but never raced. This 275 GTB/C Speciale, chassis number 06701, brought $26.4 million at auction in 2014.
Ferrari 275 GTB | Martyn Lucy/Getty Images
Another Ferrari 275 GTB is next on our list, this time a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider which auctioned for $27.5 million in 2013. With only 10 ever made, even a 1980s repaint from metallic blue to red didn’t hurt its value.
Another factory Ferrari race car, the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM, brought $28.0 million at auction in 2014. This car, chassis number 0626, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio, started last in a field of 365 cars at the 1,000-mile Mille Miglia in 1956 and finished fourth behind three other Ferraris. The car would go on to win the 1957 Mil Kilometros Ciudad de Buenos Aires.
A 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti, which won the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix, brought $35.7 million at the Artcurial Motorcars Retromobile auction in 2016.
Next is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, which sold for $38.1 million in 2014, a public auction record at the time. With only 36 ever built, Bonham’s Auction said this car is “the 17th of the 3.0-liter true 250 GTOs.”
Another 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (the only two publicly auctioned in 10 years) rounds out the seventh Ferrari on our list. Selling for $48.4 million in 2018, this GTO again broke the public auction record.
Other expensive cars sold at auction
A 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 brought $22.6 million at RM Sotheby’s Monterey Classic Car auction in 2017. This car is the first of five specially built for David Brown to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and although it competed in three consecutive Le Mans, it never finished.
The first Mercedes-Benz on the list is a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R which sold in “authentic condition” for $29.6 million in 2013. The term “authentic condition” means it has the dents and scrapes it acquired on the race track. It’s also one of only 10 left in existence out of the original 14 ever made.
And the most expensive car to ever sell at auction is a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, for $143 million at a “special RM Sotheby’s auction at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart in 2022.” The rarity of this model no doubt drives the price as this is one of only two in existence.
The other is locked away from the public in Mercedes-Benz’s private collection. However, the new owner must keep this car “accessible for public display and special occasions.” In addition, Mercedes-Benz is using the money from the sale to fund “scholarships in the areas of environmental science and decarbonization.”