These are the top ten most expensive cars ever sold at a public auction house which must report their sales to a governing body for taxation purposes. This is the only way to know exactly how much money exchanged hands.
10. 1936 Mercedes Benz 540K Special Roadster: $11,770,000
This particular 1936 540K Special Roadster may actually be the finest car Mercedes has ever made. The one sold in a Goodings & Company auction had two previous owners including Baroness Gisela Von Krieger of Prussia. Only 32 540Ks were ever produced. These cars were custom made for some very important politicians. Most of them ended up in the hands of high ranking Nazi officers. In fact, Adolf Hitler actually would give them as gifts. Goodings & Company started the bidding for Von Krieger’s 540K at $8,000,000 and it quickly sky rocketed towards it selling price of $11,770,000.
9. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa: $12,402,500
This 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sold at the Ferrari Leggenda e Passione for $12,402,500. The Ferrari Leggenda e Passione is an annual event attended by owners of some of the rarest and most sought after Ferrari’s in the world. This Testa Rossa was the fourth one of its kind made and is one of just 22 ever constructed. The 250 Testa Rossa is often compared to the 250 GTO, another extremely rare Ferrari from the time period. Typically, these high end Ferrari collectors argue over which they prefer, however it is generally agreed that the much rarer Testa Rossa is easier to drive than its counterpart.
8. 1953 Ferrari 375MM Berlinetta Competizione: $12,812,800
The 1953 Ferrari 375MM Berlinetta Competizione is just one of the many Ferraris to have had a great deal of success at the 24 hour race in Le Mans. This 375MM is one of just three that were entered in the race. It is the only working race car in the world to have been driven by three different world champion drivers. This 375MM’s rich racing history allowed it to sell for a hefty price tag of $12,812,800 by RM Auctions.
7. 1963 Ferrari 250 LM: $14,300,000
You are probably starting to notice a trend by now. A number of the most expensive cars in the world are made by the Italian automakers at Ferrari. This 1963 250 LM was sold by RM Auctions for $14,300,000. The bid was originally set at $12,000,000. The final selling price exceeded RM’s expectations. It was the most money ever paid for a Ferrari LM. The LM stands for LeMans. It was the final Ferrari to ever win the race; one of just 32 ever made.
6. 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe: $14,900,000
This 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe was sold in a Christie’s of London auction for $14,900,000. There were only six Royales ever produced. Ettore Bugatti planned on making more of them, but the Great Depression eliminated his market. The 15-foot-long car was so expensive in the 1930s that even royalty had to think twice about purchasing one. The most amazing component of the Royale was the engine. The car was fitted with a 12.7 Liter power plant. These particular engines were originally to be used in airplanes. Despite the rareness of all Royales, this is the rarest of the rare. This 1931 model was part of Ettore Bugatti’s personal collection.
5. 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype: $16,390,000
The Ferrari Testa Rossa was already discussed a bit earlier. This one, however, is the first of the 34 cars produced. The 1957 Prototype was sold for $16,390,000 by Goodings & Company in a 2011 auction. At the time, this was the largest amount of money ever paid for a car in a public auction. The Testa Rossa Prototype was very controversial among buyers. It was actually destroyed in the 1958 Le Mans race. It was set completely ablaze twice during the race. The car was fully restored and all the part have matching numbers.
4. 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO: $19,400,000
The 1963 250 Ferrari GTO is believed to be the most expensive car in the world. Someone has claimed they bought one for $52,000,000 in a private deal. Since it was a private deal, there is no absolute definitive proof that the purchase actually happened. What we do know is that a 250 GTO was sold by RM Auctions for $19,400,000. They are extremely rare: only 36 were ever made. All 36 GTOs are still in existence. They rarely come up in public auctions. Most GTO deals are made behind closed doors and the dollar amounts are rarely disclosed to the public. The buyer of this particular 250 GTO was British radio host Chris Evans. Evans had to sell off three of his other rare Ferraris in order to make the purchase.
3. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB-4 NART Spyder: $27,500,000
NART stands for North American Racing Team. This 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB-4 NART Spyder was one of just ten to ever be made. This model only had one owner, Eddie Smith. Smith had received offers for the car from the likes of Steve McQueen and Ralph Lauren. It finally exchanged hands in 2013 for the sum of $27,500,000. The new owner is Lawrence Stroll who was instrumental in starting the company Tommy Hilfiger.
2. 1954 Mercedes Benz W196R Silver Arrow: $29,601,500
The 1954 Mercedes Benz W196R is a racing icon. Its nine out of twelve Grand Prix victories gained it the nickname “The Silver Arrow”. Mercedes Benz only produced 14 of these vehicles. Only ten are known to exist today. Three of them currently reside in museums and six are located in the Mercedes Benz home office in Germany. That means that this particular Silver Arrow is the only one in the hands of a private owner. This exact car was entered into the Le Mans and was driven by race car driver Jaun Manuel Fangio. Fangio is one of the most decorated and respected drivers of all time. It was sold in 2013 by the British auction house, Bonhams’, for $29,601,500.
1. 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic: $43,700,000
The Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic was only produced from 1936 to 1940. It was a completely new design conceptualized by Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean. Though there were 710 Type 57Cs created, only four of them were Type 57SCs. There are only two in existence today. There is a 1938 model owned by Ralph Lauren and this 1936 model. This 1936 Atlantic was owned by Dr. Peter Williamson, a renowned collector of rare Bugtis. The car was sold in a very exclusive auction run by Gooding & Company for a record $43,700,000.