How expensive are the world’s most expensive classic cars? A million pounds? A couple of million? Try again. You struggle to find brand-new cars that stretch into seven figures, but for the most exotic classic cars, eight figures is the norm. Take a deep breath and check out the most expensive classics ever sold at auction.
1 Ferrari 250 GTO: £30,750,300
A car so famous they put it to music. The Ferrari 250 GTO is without doubt the classic car that packs the biggest global clout; as such, it’s a perennial record-setter at auctions. This one-of-39 example was raced by Jo Schlesser and, we can only assume, is a peach to drive. But at this price, would you ever dare?
2 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti: £28,801,940
The 250 GTO was a road car, but this 1957 Ferrari is itself a record-breaker: the most expensive race car ever sold at auction, driven by famous names including Britain’s Peter Collins. German legend Wolfgang von Trips even drive it in the Mille Miglia; now can you see why it made nearly £29 million?
3 Mercedes-Benz W196: £23,880,600
The only Mercedes-Benz in the top 10, but what a car: a machine driven by Juan Manuel Fangio to victory in the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prix. It broke records at auction in 2013 and is still one of the most revered auction sales stars.
4 Ferrari 290 MM: £22,630,100
Juan Manuel Fangio drove this Ferrari too, in the 1956 Mille Miglia. Ferrari, remarkably, only built four of them, and this is the most expensive thanks to its Fangio provenance and a successful racing record after the great man had finished with it.
5 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider: £22,186,365
NART stands for North American Racing Team, the famous Ferrari US racing operation of the 50s and 60s. It wasn’t only interested in competition cars, though: this one-of-10 Spider was a road car that found fame when used by Steve McQueen in ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’. He actually owned it, rather than simply borrowing it.
6 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale: £21,298,910
This is a Ferrari 275 that, as the name suggests, is even more special than normal. Its aluminium body meant it was lighter, and its 3.0-litre V12 engine was more powerful. It would have been a cracking race car – the fact it didn’t actually make it to competition adds further intrigue and pushes the price up even higher.
7 Jaguar D-type: £17,571,600
This Jaguar D-type won the 1956 Le Mans 24 Hours, something Jaguar also did in 1955 and 1957. It’s a Scottish Ecurie Ecosse car that, despite moving into private ownership later on, was still used in the occasional race competition. That’s why it’s a £17.5 million Jaguar.
8 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider: £15,974,180
Another non-Ferrari, this Alfa Romeo had a body built by Touring in Italy. Sitting beneath this was an 8C 2.9 chassis and engine – a supercharged straight-eight monster at that, meaning it wasn’t just beautiful, it was also a monster performer for its day. Being one of just 12 seals the inevitable heady auction sale price.
9 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider: £14,925,370
Ferrari evangelists swoon over anything 250 GT SWB Spider-related, but even by those standards, this one is special. It was discovered in a French warehouse: the original plan was to display it in a museum but, somehow, it was simply left dormant. When owner Robert Baillon died in 2015, it resurfaced, and quickly sold for a fortune.
10 Ferrari 375-Plus Spider Competizione: £14,844,695
Another Ferrari racing car, this 375-Plus finished second in the 1954 Mille Miglia. An official Scuderia Ferrari team car, it’s steeped in heritage and a bidding frenzy pushed it up to nearly £15 million when it was auctioned in 2014.