1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, $143,000,000, sold at RM Sotheby’s in May, 2022
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The world of high-end classic cars and supercars looks to be recession-proof, regardless of the state of the global economy.

For decades, the prices have been constantly on the rise, and buying a unique and highly sought-after artwork on four wheels seems to be the best way to invest.

But just how expensive those “blue chip” collector cars really are? The classic car market is booming, and we have already seen multimillion-dollar muscle cars, crazy expensive Porsche 911s, and celebrity-owned luxury models that cost more than a yacht.

The newest record sale in the classic car world is the 1955 Mercedes 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe. With a sale price of almost $143 million, it is by far the highest figure ever achieved at the auction. But, it is not the only super expensive and super rare machine out there.

We compiled a list of the most expensive cars sold at auctions to show you just how high the prices are. Here you will find only the most esoteric, highly collectible, and rarest cars the world has ever seen.

Top 20 most expensive cars ever sold at auctions

20. 1968 Ford GT40 – $12,000,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date Sold: June 2018

Most expensive cars ever sold at auction - 1968 Ford GT40
1968 Ford GT40

When Ford’s takeover of Ferrari embarrassingly failed, the Americans wanted revenge. Not on the market, but instead on the race track. The Ford GT40 was designed to beat the Ferrari and win Le Mans. It did just that four times in a row and created one of the greatest motorsport stories of all time. Ford produced only a handful of cars, all of which are incredibly sought-after. One of three cars that crossed the line at the 1966 Le Mans race was sold in 2018 for $12 million.

Classic Ford for sale

19. 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster – $12,800,000

Auctioneer: Gooding & Company

Date Sold: August 2012

Most expensive cars ever sold at auction - 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K
1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster

Produced in only 26 examples, the 1936 Mercedes 540 K Special Roadster represents the pinnacle of classic Teutonic automotive art. Powered by a supercharged straight-eight engine and covered with the gorgeous, hand-built body, this two-seat roadster was a capable high-speed cruiser back in the late ‘30s. Designed to cruise the newly-built Autobahns, its career was cut short by the war, which only makes it more desirable in the eyes of collectors.

Classic Mercedes-Benz for sale

18. 1970 Porsche 917K – $14,300,000

Auctioneer: Gooding & Company

Date Sold: August 2017

Most expensive cars ever sold at auction - 1970 Porsche 917K
1970 Porsche 917K

Although the original estimate was higher, the unique Porsche 917K managed to sell for a considerable sum. Apart from being one of the finest race cars ever constructed with a stellar motorsport career, this particular car also had a notable movie appearance. Steve McQueen drove it in the racing classic “Le Mans,” which was released in 1971. Featuring recognizable Gulf Oil livery, extreme originality, and well-known owners, this 917 K has its place in this exclusive group of cars.

Classic Porsche for sale

17. 1962 Shelby Cobra 260 CSX200 – $14,300,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date Sold: August 2016

Most expensive cars ever sold at auction - 1962 Shelby Cobra 260
1962 Shelby Cobra 260 CSX200

With the prices of original Shelby Cobras hovering around the $1 million mark, you might ask why this one is almost 15 times more expensive? This particular machine is the first Shelby Cobra ever constructed and Carroll Shelby’s personal car. It was also used as a promo model during Shelby American initial phase, driven by famous celebrities and racing drivers, and still kept in its original condition. An absolutely irreplicable piece of automotive history.

Classic Shelby Cobra for sale

16. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider – $18,454,000

Auctioneer: ArtCurial

Date Sold: March 2016

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB
1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

The 250 California Spider is one of the most desirable Ferraris ever made. Produced in just 55 examples, it featured a race car drivetrain in a seductive roadster body. Even though this example was sold as a restoration project, it managed to fetch over $18 million in ArtCurial auction, mainly due to the fact it was part of the legendary Ballion Collection and once owned by French actor Alain Delon. Since the sale, the car was restored but kept as original as possible.

Classic Ferrari for sale

15. 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider – $19,800,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date Sold: August 2016

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B
1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider

The pre-war Alfas were scarce machines, primarily due to the fact that the company barely made road-going cars, mainly concentrating on racing. However, those passenger models were always gorgeous luxury vehicles with high-performance engines and bodies by the best Italian coachbuilders of the period. This Alfa was “dressed up” by Carrosseria Touring in Milan with a seductive roadster body and streamlined shape, which must have looked as impressive in 1939 as it is today.

Classic Alfa Romeo for sale

14. 1995 McLaren F1 – $20,465,000

Auctioneer: Gooding & Company

Date Sold: August 2021

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1995 McLaren F1
1995 McLaren F1

All supercars are expensive, but only one can justify the price tag of $20+ million. Of course, the iconic McLaren F1. One of 107 built and one of 64 road-going examples, this highly original and perfectly preserved model shows just how desirable this McLaren is. Once the fastest production car in the world, the F1 is filled with unique technical solutions, an impressive BMW engine, and gold plated engine bay. It is not custom touch but an engineering feature to extract the heat from high-revving V12.

McLaren for sale

13. 1963 Aston Martin DP215 – $21,455,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date Sold: August 2018

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1963 Aston Marin DP215
1963 Aston Martin DP215

After considerable racing success in the late ‘50s, Aston Martin needed a challenger for the newly-formed GT racing scene dominated by Ferraris. So in 1963, it presented a DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype. It was a one-off racing machine that could achieve almost 200 mph, an astonishing figure for the early ‘60s. Driven by Phill Hill in 1963 Le Mans, this racing Aston featured an all-aluminum body, modified DB4 GT chassis, and high-performance engine.

Classic Aston Martin for sale

12. 1955 Jaguar D-Type – $21,780,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date Sold: August 2016

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1955 Jaguar D Type
1955 Jaguar D-Type

Cars that won prestigious races always command high prices at auctions. So, it wasn’t a surprise to see the 1955 Jaguar D-Type that won the Le Mans fetching almost $22 million in 2016. After all, this remarkable machine dominated the world of motorsport from 1955 to 1957 and proved to be very influential as an inspiration for the Jaguar E-Type.

Classic Jaguar for sale

11. 1935 Duesenberg SSJ – $22,000,000

Auctioneer: Gooding & Company

Date Sold: August 2018

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1935 Duesenberg SSJ
1935 Duesenberg SSJ

The 1935 SSJ could be called one of the first supercars ever built. With a massive, supercharged engine that delivered 400 hp (in the mid-1930s), it was very fast, costly, and incredibly rare. Just two cars were produced, and this one once belonged to famous Hollywood star Gary Cooper. Estimated at $10 million, it sold for more than double, becoming the most expensive American car sold on auction.

10. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM – $22,005,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date Sold: December 2018

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1956 Ferrari 290 MM
1956 Ferrari 290 MM

Reading the datasheet of the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM is like reading who is who of the 1950s racing scene. With wins at Nassau, Mille Miglia, and Buenos Aires, this Scaglietti masterpiece traveled the world as Scuderia Ferrari works car and was piloted by the likes of Sterling Moss. One of only four made and one of three surviving examples, it is highly original and in “as raced” condition, which justifies its price.

Classic Ferrari for sale

9. 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 – $22,550,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date Sold: August 2017

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1956 Aston Martin DBR1

What is the most expensive British car ever sold at auction? It is the 1956 Aston Martin DBR1. It was a fantastic piece of British racing heritage driven by Stirling Moss, Carroll Shelby, Jack Brabham, and Roy Salvadori as a proper Ferrari fighter of the late ‘50s. The success of this model opened doors for Aston’s Le Mans triumph in 1959 and helped the company cement its status amongst sports car fans.

Classic Aston Martin for sale

8. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale – $26,400,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date Sold: August 2014

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB
1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale

Ferrari prototypes are always highly in demand by top collectors. Those cars are unique, custom built, and feature unique combinations of body and drive train components. When such a vehicle has significant competition history, like this 275 GTB/C Speciale, it immediately becomes one of the most expensive Ferraris ever sold and a valid “blue chip” investment. This Speciale is well-known in the classic Ferrari community as one of three such vehicles.

Classic Ferrari for sale

7. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider – $27,500,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date Sold: August 2013

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider

If you think the 250 GT California Spider is the ultimate Ferrari drop top, think again. With just ten examples produced and a price tag that is almost $10 million higher, 275 GTB/4 NART Spider is, in fact, more valuable and five times rarer. This gorgeous machine was a North American special and sold in very limited numbers, making it extremely desirable today. Steve McQueen drove one in “Thomas Crown Affair.”

Classic Ferrari for sale

6. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM – $28,050,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date Sold: December 2015

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1956 Ferrari 290 MM
1956 Ferrari 290 MM

Proof that race prominence is everything is this fantastic 1956 Ferrari 290 MM. A championship-winning car, this particular example was driven by Fangio and Phill Hill, triumphing in Mille Miglia, Swedish GP, and a host of other important races. It also featured an upgraded and more powerful engine which could propel this elegant Barchetta to respectable speeds even by today’s standards.

Classic Ferrari for sale

5. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 – $29,600,000

Auctioneer: Bonhams

Date Sold: July 2013

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196
1954 Mercedes-Benz W196

Juan Manuel Fangio is still considered to be the most significant racing driver ever to sit behind the wheel. A true talent, Fangio possessed discipline and elegance that has been rarely seen since. That is why anything connected to him is highly collectible. How about his championship-winning Mercedes? With a price tag of almost $30 million, it is, for sure, the ultimate centerpiece of a collection of legendary racing memorabilia.

Classic Mercedes-Benz for sale

4. 1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic – over $30,000,000

Auctioneer: Gooding & Company

Date Sold: May 2010

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC
1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic

The Type 57 SC Atlantic is probably the most striking Bugatti of all time. With its bizarre and unusual design, exceptional construction, and high-performance supercharged engine, it was one of the fastest and most expensive pre-war machines. Only four were built, and they rarely came up for sale. The light blue example was in May 2010 in a private sale for a rumored sum of over $30 million. The buyer remained anonymous, and the car hasn’t been seen since.

Bugatti for sale

3. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti – $35,700,000

Auctioneer: ArtCurial

Date Sold: February 2016

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti
1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti

Its incredible racing history, elegant design, and remarkable originality positioned this Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti as one of the most expensive cars in the world. This example was the first car to have an average speed of over 200 km/h at Le Mans and the only surviving car from the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix. The fact that it was driven by Stirling Moss and took first place in this legendary event only helped it achieve such a high price at auction in February 2016.

Classic Ferrari for sale

2. 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO – $70,000,000

Auctioneer: Private Sale

Date Sold: June 2018

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO
1963 Ferrari 250 GTO

For years, the 250 GTO held the title of the world’s most expensive car. With only 36 cars ever produced, with incredible history, every time one comes on for sale, you can be sure that the price tag will be astonishing. This 1963 example which won the 1963 Tour de France race, set the record at $70 million, but similar cars recently sold in the $30 and $40 million range. However, it is easy to see why the 250 GTO is so sought-after. It is probably the most beautiful machine ever created, with impeccable racing record and performance, which still can excite even the most discriminating owners.

Classic Ferrari for sale

1. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe – $143,000,000

Auctioneer: RM Sotheby’s

Date sold: May 2022

Most expensive car ever sold at auction - 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut

If you think that $70 million for a 1963 250 GTO is expensive, think again. In May 2022, RM Sotheby’s sold the one-off 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe at a special auction held in the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart for $142 million, setting the absolute record for a most expensive car ever sold at auction. Conceived by famed Mercedes test driver Rudolph Uhlenhaut, this unique 300 SLR was basically a race car for the road. Filled with incredible features and technology, some of which are still relevant today, the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut can be considered the essence of Mercedes ethos and the most crucial car with a three-pointed star on its nose.

Classic Mercedes-Benz for sale

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