The top 100 most expensive cars of all time

1239 pictures

We've assembled the list of the 100 most expensive cars ever sold at auction, all the ...

We've assembled the list of the 100 most expensive cars ever sold at auction, all the images, all the links to the official catalogue descriptions, and we've also analysed the top 100 so that you can see which marques are the most populous, which individual models, which auctioneers get the job done, where they're sold ... a complete snapshot of the hyper-rare car marketplace in one article. It's long, but well worth the effort if you're thinking about dabbling in a four-wheeled "Investment of Passion.". View gallery (1239 images)

UPDATED: March 31, 2015. The numbers are in. Rare automobile collecting, once considered a pastime for only the eccentric rich, is now a legitimate wealth creation strategy. It's difficult to pinpoint the exact moment that an industry matures, but the regular publication of the Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI) index in London's Financial Times is a strong indication that the rare automobile industry is now well beyond that point.

The Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI) index measures the performance of rare cars as an alternative asset class and uses the type of rigorous financial methodology usually associated with more traditional investments. The breadth of HAGI's research enables it to publish market indices on rare Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz cars and it now tracks the entire rare car market globally.

HAGI is an independent investment research house which began when a group of car enthusiasts from the financial sector decided the rare car market needed some statistical rigor, and it set out to create benchmarks which accurately tracked collectable automobile prices for the first time. HAGI publishes a monthly index for investing in rare classic motorcars, and the index is tracking much better than the S&P 500 over the last few decades. Indeed, now that other wealth creation reports have the data, it's suddenly become clear that investing in rare cars offers a better return than just about any other form of investment.

The result of the ground-breaking work done by HAGI in tracking the appreciation in value of rare cars, is that cars are now a legitimate alternative asset class which consistently provides better returns than coins, wine, stamps, art, equine bloodstock ... and most importantly shares.

Art, watches and jewellery have traditionally been where high net worth individuals indulge what the World Wealth Report terms, “investments of passion.” With the planet's population of high net worth individuals growing 9.1 percent last year, the influx of new money has not just rebounded art auction prices to pre-GFC levels, but is now pushing prices skyward for cars, coins, stamps and celebrity memorabilia as these new "commodities" have been providing better returns than the stockmarket.

What's more, collectable automobiles are now offering far better returns than almost all other asset categories, traditional or otherwise, and auction prices seemed destined to continue to rise relentlessly.

Knight Frank's annual Wealth Report has now introduced the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) which combines the performance of nine luxury assets including art, classic cars, watches and stamps, into one composite index. The KFLII showed growth of 8% in the last 12 months and 179% over a 10-year period, outperforming many more mainstream investments such as the FTSE 100. Overall, the classic car category (as tracked by HAGI) has shown the strongest one-year, five-year and 10-year performance. That's the cars second from right.

Examine the above chart and you'll see that "investments of passion" are suddenly very much in vogue for very good reason. With the rise of collectibles and legitimate indexes in each of the key areas, wealth creation is now entering new realms, and increasingly "investments of passion" are offering not just an object that appreciates in value, but one that can be appreciated every day in a more meaningful, relevant and personal way.

The HAGI Top Index is published monthly on the Financial Times website, but if you're interested in tracking the marketplace of valuable and rare cars, the company's monthly newsletter is free and it contains the most detailed information you'll get on movements in the marketplace.

The collectible car lifecycle

Nearly all new cars markedly decrease in value for the first few years of their life. Most continue to depreciate until they are scrapped. A very small percentage of models eventually begin to appreciate in value again, and a much smaller number eventually surpass their original sale price.

This 1929 'Blower' Bentley took the Brooklands outer circuit lap record in 1931, was owned by the famous horseracing and motorsport identity Dorothy Paget, and was campaigned by the diminutive Bentley-driving Baronet, Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin. It nonetheless fell on hard times before its true worth was recognised when it sold for GBP 5,041,500 (US$7,906,745) at Goodwood in 2011.

Many cars disappear while they are in this depressed value state. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a car's value is at least partially perception – many of the cars on this top 100 list have been rescued from a state of neglect that only comes from being considered worthless.

One of the top three cars on this list was discovered not in a barn, as legend says such cars are, but in a field in rural America, and it had been there so long that a tree had grown through the engine bay. Another had been abandoned on the side of the Hollywood freeway.

This 4.9-litre V12 Ferrari 375-Plus ran second in the Mille Miglia, yet subsequently fell into disuse and half-forgotten neglect, the engine and key parts were separated, before the chassis and body were stolen and became the focus of a decades-long international legal dispute. Mediation by Bonhams eventually reunited all the parts and enabled the car to be restored and sold in its original condition for GBP10,753,500 (US$16,380,895), claiming a place in the top 10 most valuable cars ever sold at auction.

To get HAGI's attention, and qualify for tracking, a car has to achieve its original sale price, plus inflation. From there onwards, HAGI offers enough data for automotive investors to make informed decisions about purchases of those vehicles.

Auction results are just one of the data streams used in creating the HAGI indices. The company estimates that only 30 percent of the rare automobile market sells through auction, and it collects data on sales through private, marque specialist and dealer sales through its network to ensure a complete overview of sale price behavior.

The HAGI group runs a proprietary database encompassing in excess of 100,000 actual transactions. Entries start from the date of the cars' manufacture and are updated on a daily basis. The data is collected from four major sources: private contacts, marque specialists, dealers and auction results.

Sadly, we only have the auction data to work with because that's all that's available in the public domain. Most rare cars are sold not at auction, but very much by private sale from one cognoscenti to another, the buyer sometimes courting the seller to that end for years, sometimes decades.

HAGI principal Dietrich Hatlapa has produced a book entitled Better than Gold, which is highly recommended reading for those considering allocating a proportion of their portfolio to rare automobiles.

Gizmag has been reporting on the major happenings in the rare car and motorcycle marketplaces for more than a decade and a few months back we began compiling this list of the most valuable automobiles ever to sell at auction.

Analysis of the top one hundred most valuable cars ever sold at auction is highly illustrative of the marques which populate the stratosphere of automotive collectables, the auction houses which handle them, and the growing robustness of the automotive collectibles marketplace.

The leading Marques – Ferrari dominates

Fifty-three of the top one hundred cars ever sold at auction are Ferraris – that's 51.96 percent (there are currently 102 cars in the top 100 because numbers #100, #101 and #102 sold for the same price) – an astonishing result for a relatively small Italian company amongst thousands of other manufacturers which have produced automobiles across the last century and a quarter.

At the very top of the list, Ferrari is even more dominant, with nine (90 percent) of the top ten, 14 (70 percent) of the top 20, and 30 (60 percent) of the top 50.

Ferrari also holds the record for the most expensive car ever sold at auction: on August 14, 2014 a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO sold at Bonham's Quail Auction for US$34,650,000 (US$38,115,000 including buyers premium).

The sale of the GTO returned the automotive auction record to Ferrari on the 26th anniversary of the death of "Il Commendatore" (Enzo Ferrari), a figure whose cars now dominate the rare car market more than they have dominated motorsport over the last eight decades.

The most prominent model: 13 Ferrari 250 GT California Spiders in the top 100

In addition to dominating every other aspect of this top 100 analysis, Ferrari has also produced the most prominent individual model within our listing with no less than 13 California Spiders appearing in the top 100, with another just outside:

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider $15,180,000
1960 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Competizione Spider $11,275,000

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider $10,894,900

1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider $8,800,000

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider $8,580,000

1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider $8,250,000

1959 Ferrari 250 LWB California Spider Competizione $7,260,000

1957 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Prototype Spider $6,600,000

1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider $5,907,325

1962 Ferrari 250 SWB California Spider $5,115,000

1960 Ferrari 250 SWB California Spider $4,950,000

1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Competizione Spider $4,950,000

1959 Ferrari 250 GT California $4,455,000

1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider $3,905,000

Only 106 Ferrari 250 GT California Spiders (56 of them on the short wheelbase chassis and 50 on the longer wheel base) were ever made, meaning that better than ten percent of the total production of the model have now forced themselves into the top 100. Quite some feat.

Scuderia Ferrari was founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929, manufacturing race cars and acting as the Alfa Romeo factory racing arm prior to moving into the production of performance road cars in 1947.

From the point of view of the collector, Ferrari's low-volume production of a series of high-performance, hand-made, technically-excellent models has almost by coincidence, created a series of perfect collector cars.

In years to come the world's most expensive auction car will almost certainly be a car of extreme rarity – one of which just one or two vehicles were made or will ever appear outside a museum. Ferrari's production of just 36 Ferrari GTOs, 106 Ferrari 250 GT California Spiders, 40 Series I 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolets and 41 Series II Cabriolets, plus a host of other landmark models in low volume make a perfect balance of desirability and scarcity. Ferrari will almost certainly dominate this list for the next century too.

Perhaps the only record Ferrari may not hold onto is the world's most valuable car at auction record, as there are many cars out there with the potential to claim that record – this list only contains those which sold at auction. For the record, Ferrari holds the first three spots on the highest price paid for a car at private sale too, with the outright most expensive car ever sold being the private sale of another GTO for US$52 million in 2013.

Mercedes-Benz a clear second

Mercedes-Benz is a clear second with ten cars (10 percent) in the top 100 and if the world's most desirable automobiles could be ascribed a value, Mercedes-Benz would have a lot more cars than ten in the top 100 of such a listing. That's mainly because the company has either kept or procured the actual cars which performed the prodigious feats which helped sculpt its global reputation and are hence manifestations of its illustrious heritage.

Two companies merged to form Mercedes-Benz in 1926: Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) and Benz & Cie. Both have roots back to the very beginning of motoring and motorsport. DMG was formed by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach and even in the very beginning, it aimed high – the company's first automobile was sold in August, 1892, to the Sultan of Morocco. Similarly, Benz and Cie traces its history to Karl Benz's 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen.

Between the two constituent companies which amalgamated, there are few points in automotive history in which one or both companies did not play a significant role, from the first internal combustion engines and the invention of the carburetor, through to success in the very first motor races in history.

One hundred years ago this year, DMG won the 1914 Grand Prix with a landmark 1-2-3 finish against a field of 39 starters from 13 different manufacturers. Though the DOHC, four-valve engine of the future was on display that day by many marques, and four wheel brakes were on many of the racing cars for the first time, the Mercedes cars which beat the all-conquering Peugeot team that day had neither – at a later date when the technologies were viable, they were introduced and used to great effect. Mercedes-Benz has a 125-year-old record of maturing bleeding-edge technologies and doing just that. Indeed, whenever Mercedes-Benz has gone racing, it has achieved absolute domination. Those who forecast that the current Formula One effort would not achieve such results were not students of history.

The subsequent domination of Grand Prix racing by the Silver Arrows on at least three occasions (just pre-WWII, the early fifties and now) means there are quite a few Mercedes Benz cars out there which can fit into the top 20 should they ever escape captivity. A case in point is Fangio's W196 Silver Arrow which slipped the Mercedes-Benz net and it auctioned for a world record price less than two years ago.

Fortunately, Mercedes-Benz has a museum which houses nearly all such historically-significant artifacts bearing the three-pointed-star and the cars are regularly displayed and demonstrated at global gatherings.

Not surprisingly for a company that has relentlessly innovated and invented many of the features which the rest of the automotive world has copied, it has produced some of the most desirable automobiles in history.

Foremost amongst this lineage is the Mercedes-Benz 540K Speziale Roadster, introduced in 1936 and produced for just a few short years until the demands of WWII required its production capacity.

The 540K Spezial Roadster has all the same hallmarks as the raft of Ferrari's limited-edition models. Only 29 were ever made, far fewer have survived to this day, and the massive, handcrafted art deco sculpture was the absolute pinnacle of automotive desirability from the moment it was introduced.

[image:300333]

The following 540K Spezial Roadsters are all in the top 100 most expensive cars sold at auction, or just outside.

1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster US$11,770,000

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster US$9,680,000

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster US$8,106,150

1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster US$7,480,000

1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster US$4,620,000

1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 K/540K Spezial Roadster US$4,179,100

1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Coupe US$3,080,000

The 540K was designed by Hans Nibel, an engineer who worked under Dr Ferdinand Porsche until he became Technical Director of Daimler-Benz AG in 1929 following Dr Porsche’s resignation.

The 540K has a very special chassis and an awesomely powerful (for eighty years ago) supercharged (the "K" stands for "Kompressor"– German for "supercharger") 5.4 liter eight cylinder engine which produces 115 hp naturally aspirated, or 180 hp with the blower engaged. It's ultra-long wheelbase offers exceptional ride quality but it also gave the master coachbuilders at Sindelfingen the space to create long elegant lines. Each and every Spezial Roadster was a masterpiece of the coachbuilder’s art.

Ford nearly steals third spot

The numbers were quite close for third place in the list of most populous marques in the top 100 with a host of time-honored marques vying for the last spot on the podium.

Arguably, Ford had a tenuous claim for third place, courtesy of three cars (all GT40s) in the top 100 in its own right, two Shelby Cobras which use highly-modified Ford V8 engines, and the 1966 Batmobile.

In the end, we decided that Ford's V8 contribution to the AC-based Shelby Cobra didn't constitute a legitimate Ford entry and the clincher was that the Lincoln Futura would never have sold for that much money but for it's association with the Caped Crusader. Despite some landmark concept cars regularly appearing at auction, the Batmobile is the only concept car in the top 100.

Six movie star cars

The world's most famous super-hero conveyance began life in 1955 as a Lincoln Futura (Ford) grand touring concept car, hand-built by Ghia in Italy, and unveiled at the 1955 Chicago Auto Show. The twin-domed concept car was painted black and kitted out with numerous Bat-gadgets to become one of the most recognizable and valuable on the planet, selling for US$4,620,000 at a Barrett-Jackson auction in 2013.

The Batmobile was one of six cars that appeared in movies to make the Top 100 list, the others being: a Ford GT40 used in the filming of the Steve McQueen film Le Mans; a 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe which appeared in the 1965 Howard Hawkes cult classic Redline 7000; a 1956 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta which appeared in Disney's 1966 comedy, The Love Bug; a 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta which featured in the 1956 Italian film La Fortuna di Essere Donna alongside Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni; and the gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5 used by James Bond in the films Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965). These cars and a growing list of other significant movie cars that have sold at auction are treated in much greater depth in our feature article on the most expensive movie & TV cars and motorcycles.

Bentley is the third most represented marque

The Bentley Boys, were a group of independently wealthy British motorists whose exploits and racetrack victories in Bentley sports cars during the 1920s built the marque's global reputation high performance. Four straight victories at Le Mans (three of them with Company Chairman Wolf Barnato at the wheel) and Barnato's success in racing against the famous Blue Train made Bentley a household name.

Bentley, with five cars in its own right, is the third most desirable marque based on our top 100 statistics, and much of its glory came thanks to Wolf Barnato, Sir Henry Birkin and the exploits of the Bentley Boys, whose indomitable spirit enlivened motorsport between the wars, won four successive Le Mans 24 Hour victories and created the legend of the Blue Train. While W.O. Bentley may have created the famous marque, it was the daring and panache of financier Wolf Barnato, who purchased the company, that led to its global recognition.

Bugatti is the fourth most represented marque

From the moment Ettore Bugatti produced his first car under the family name, magical things began to happen. The tiny 1368 cc Bugatti Type 13 pictured above weighed only 300 kg and was entered in the open formula 1911 Grand Prix De L'ACF at Le Mans, competing against a field of cars with engines ranging to more than 15,000cc. After more than seven hours of racing, the sweet-handling Bugatti voiturette finished second, behind only the FIAT S61, a ten liter monster. The promotional effect of success in racing became imprinted on Bugatti that day, and it was to become a hallmark of the Bugatti name, culminating in the production of the T35, the most successful racing car in history.

Bugatti went on to build machinery which took speed records on land, water and in the air, not to mention trains, but it was his road cars for which he would become most famous.

Ironically, Bugatti's most famous automobile, the Royale, was actually the work of his son Jean Bugatti, pictured here with one of the seven Royales which were produced.

Five marques share fifth place on the list with three cars apiece: Duesenberg, Jaguar, Maserati, Talbot-Lago and Ford.

The only other marques with more than one car in the top 100 are Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, McLaren, Rolls-Royce and Shelby with two each.

Bear in mind also that this most valuable marques list comprises only those cars which have come to auction and SOLD and is ordered solely by the price paid on the day of the sale (i.e. it is not adjusted for inflation).

If the Bugatti Royale Berline de Voyager (sold for US$6,500,000 in 1986) or the Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe (sold for US$9,800,000 in 1987) crossed the auction block today, they would immediately be vaulted to the top few places on the ladder, if not outright leadership.

Which country makes the most valuable cars?

Most of the cars on this list have a clearly identifiable nationality. Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati are Italian, Mercedes-Benz, Horch and Porsche are German, Ford, General Motors, Shelby and Duesenberg (not to mention the Batmobile) are American, Bugatti, Delahaye and Talbot-Lago are French and Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Jaguar are British.

Right?

Wrong!

Bugatti and Bentley are now owned by Germany's Volkswagen, which also owns several other famous non-German marques such as Italy's Lamborghini and Ducati, Spain's SEAT and the Czech Skoda brands. Jaguar is now owned by Tata, an Indian company which most famously made the world's cheapest car, only to subsequently find that no-one really wants to claim cheapness among their personal brand values – people wear cars as much as drive them. Rolls-Royce is now also owned by a German company in BMW, and in the last week Mercedes-Benz bought a significant shareholding in the distinctly Italian MV Agusta.

While cars from SEAT and Skoda will probably never appear on this list, the Malaysian-owned Lotus and German-owned Lamborghini could quite conceivably win a spot or two in the near future, and as our list grows to become the top 1000 over the next few years, Chinese-owned Volvo, MG and Saab might also claim spots, and it seems inevitable that Japan's Toyota, Lexus, Honda and Acura will eventually claim spots in the top 100, not to mention France's Nissan and Infiniti and Austria's Red Bull. As globalization takes hold, famous marques will be bought and sold across national boundaries, cars will be designed by multi-national teams in design centers in geographically disparate locations (though with deep, broad and amazingly insightful market research driving decision-making), and they will continue to be manufactured where it is most cost effective to do so.

Ultimately, the supposed nationality of automobiles may only be relevant to the corporate smoke-and-mirrors marketing departments, and to the masses to whom they market the company's wares.

So nationality will eventually be irrelevant.

For the purposes of this listing, we've allocated Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Jaguar to the United Kingdom and Bugatti and Talbot-Lago to France.

With such a strong showing from Ferrari, it was only natural that the Italian automotive industry would dominate the national tallies – 53 Ferraris, three Maseratis and two Alfa Romeos gives Italy 58 of the top 100 (102) cars sold at auction. Whether or not Italy does actually build cars with an extra dollop of passion, something is working when its cars cross the auction block.

Behind Italy, the United Kingdom with 14 cars (five Bentleys, three Jaguars, two McLarens, two Rolls-Royce, and two Aston Martins) narrowly nudges out Germany's 12 cars in the top 100 (10 Mercedes-Benz, one Horch and one Porsche) and nine each from France (four Bugattis, three Talbot Lagos, one De Dion and Delahaye), and the United States (Duesenberg three, Ford three, Shelby two, and the Batmobile).

Surprisingly, only five nationalities make up the top 102 cars and there are no other nationalities on the radar yet – our bet is that the first car from another country (other than the current five) to enter this hallowed ground will be associated with a celebrity, a movie or perhaps a computer game. Provenance is one of the keys to value in this marketplace.

The rare automobile market is HOT!

After standing unbroken for more than two decades, the world car auction record has now been broken in five of the last seven years, a strong indication that the marketplace is hot.

A look at when the top 100 cars were sold indicates that the marketplace is getting progressively more bullish with 25 cars on the list having been sold in 2014, 20 in 2013 and 18 in 2012, meaning that almost two thirds of the cars on this list have sold since the beginning of 2012.

At the top of the list, activity is even more bullish with 36 of the top 50 cars (72 percent) having sold since January 1, 2013. This list would have looked quite different just two years ago, particularly at the top end.

The Leading Auction Houses

Those cars that do make it to market via the auction system are currently funneled through just a handful of the hyper–elite auction houses, with RM Auctions heading the list (37 of the top 102 in its own right and a further eight in conjunction with Sotheby's) for 45 cars (44.1 percent), and 45.1 percent if you count the sale of the aforementioned 1931 Bugatti Royale Berline de Voyager by Kruse International, which was purchased by RM in 2010.

RM also accounts for five of the top ten (50 percent), and 10 of the top 20 (50 percent).

Gooding & Company with 33 cars in the top 102 (32.4 percent) is the other major player.

Bonhams rounds out the big three with 14 percent of the cars on the list plus first and third place. Between them, the big three account for more than 90 percent of the top 100 sales.

Other auction houses to have sold a "top 100" car include Sotheby's (eight in conjunction with RM), Christie's (3), Mecum Auctions (3), Barrett-Jackson (2), and Artcurial (1).

The United States is the home of the prestige car market.

There are more high net worth individuals in the United States than any other country – a lot more. Though other countries are beginning to catch up, right now the United States is the home of the collectibles market in almost every genre (art, stamps, coins, wine, ad infinitum), and rare automobiles are no exception.

Seventy-two of the top 100 cars sold at auction (72 percent) were sold in the United States, with the United Kingdom (12), Italy (8), France (4), Monaco (3) and Germany (1) making up the remainder. Finally, we get to the list itself. Wherever the auction house has provided an online link to the individual sale, we've included it.

1 – 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta

US$38,115,000
August, 2014, Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Bonhams

The first sale at auction of a Ferrari 250 GTO for many years created intense international interest at Pebble Beach this year, with the record almost certain to be broken well before bidding began.The rumor mill tends to report really big dollar sales and in recent times it had been working overtime and the word on everyone's lips was GTO. In February 2012, a 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO changed hands privately to become the most expensive car ever sold with a price of US$32 million. Then, just a few months later, a 1962 GTO sold for US$35 million, and in late 2013 a 1963 GTO sold this time for US$52 million.

As mentioned, the sale of the GTO returned the automotive auction record to Ferrari on the 26th anniversary of the death of Enzo Ferrari). The full story can be found here.

2 – 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Silver Arrow

US$29,600,000
July, 2013
West Sussex,United Kingdom

Auctioned by Bonhams

[image:278638:caption]

One of the most famous cars in the world, driven by the world's most famous driver, which we've covered in great detail previously.

Mercedes-Benz has a history of competing at the highest level of motorsport, trying out a host of new technologies, winning big, then retiring. The company returned to Grand Prix racing in 1954 with the stated intention of winning both the World F1 title and the World Sportscar championship, achieved everything it set out to do inside two years, then shut it all down.

Only fourteen W196R machines ever existed. Ten still exist, three are in museums and six remain inside Mercedes-Benz. That leaves this Silver Arrow W196R (chassis 006/54) as the only post-war Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow in private hands. The very recent (2010 – present) F1 cars of Schumacher, Rosberg and Hamilton all remain inside Mercedes-Benz too.

The car is a technological gem, having been built specifically to win world Formula One titles, the W196R won two inside 18 months with a final scorecard of 12 starts for nine wins. The engine is a 2½-liter straight-8 and the auction car was driven by Fangio who won both the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prix races in it.

The W165R was such a showcase of technological firsts that it is a milestone vehicle in motorsport history, and a car that demonstrates significant thought leadership on many levels.

Desmodromic valve actuation (as used by Ducati sixty years later), inboard brakes, independent suspension, the first first fuel-injected F1 motor, a lightweight space frame that weighed just 36 kg (73 lb), all wrapped in an aerodynamics package so far ahead of the game that it put the team in a different league.

As you shall see as this list progresses, almost every car has an impeccable provenance and derives at least some of its considerable value from being owned or driven or used by royalty, a celebrity, or a famous driver.

This particular Silver Arrow was driven by the most respected race driver of all-time, Juan Manuel Fangio. Fangio won several Grand Prix races in this vehicle including famous back-to-back victories that sealed his 1954 Formula One driver's title.

For those who know the name but not the deeds, Fangio's racing years were largely stolen by WWII. When he drove his first F1 race, he was 38 years of age, yet he went on to win 24 Formula one races, five driver titles with four teams (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati), and still easily retains the highest winning percentage of any driver in F1 history at 46 percent – 24 wins from 52 starts.

For the record, those behind him are Alberto Ascari (13 from 33 / 39.4%), Jim Clark (25 from 73 / 34.25%), Michael Schumacher (91 from 308 / 29.6%), Jackie Stewart (27 from 100 / 27%), Ayrton Senna (41 from 162 or 25.3%) and Alain Prost (51 from 202 / 25.2%) and his win ratio is better than double that of any current driver. The full story of both the car and the driver can be found in our in-depth write up when the Silver Arrow took the world record.

Racing historian Doug Nye said of Fangio: "He was a humble man, originally a mechanic from a potato town in Argentina – and he never forgot his roots. As a driver, he was simply a genius. As a man he had no enemies. He was universally loved, even by those he regularly beat on track. No standard-setting sportsman could have a better epitaph."

3 – 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider

US$27,700,000
August, 2013
Pebble Beach, U.S.
[image:278655] When North American Ferrari importer (and Le Mans 24 Hour winner) Luigi Chinetti said to his friend Eddie Smith, “I talked Enzo into building some spiders. Do you want one?”, the story of this car began. Eddie bought one of the ten N.A.R.T. (North American Racing Team) Spiders that were built and the car remained in the family until this sale when it was generously donated to charity.

The whole story is in the official auction page for the car. Fully restored, one of the most beautiful Ferraris ever made, and blindingly quick with its 300 bhp 3,286 cc quad cam V-12 engine.

Eddie Smith Snr.'s 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider was one of just ten built. It was sold by RM Auctions for US$27,700,000 in August, 2013. Photo © Darin Schnabel/RM Auctions.

4 - 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale

US$26,400,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

We've already written up the 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale to be auctioned by RM Auctions. The hand-built 275 GTB/C incorporated lightweight aluminum bodywork and a Tipo 563 chassis.

As a successor to Ferrari’s 250 GTO, the Speciale ran a lightweight, 3.3 liter V12 that, with the help of six Weber carburetors, managed to produce 320 hp (238.6 kW). That impressive bit of power was put to the road via a 5-speed manual transaxle gearbox that worked in conjunction with a four-wheel independent suspension set up, and disc brakes on all corners.

5 – 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider

US$18,450,000 (sold for EUR16,300,000)
February, 2015
Paris, France

Auctioned by Artcurial

The jewel within the world’s greatest ever barnfind (the Baillon Collection), this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider fetched US$18.45 million (EUR16.3 million) at Artcurial’s Retromobile auction in Paris on February 5, 2015.

It was formerly owned by actor Alain Delon, one of several cars unaccounted for in the Ferrari Register and thought lost. Full story.

6 – 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

US$16,390,000
August, 2013
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

[image:278665] A previous holder of the world auction record, this Ferrari Testa Rossa prototype sold for US$16.4 million at the 2013 Gooding & Co Pebble Beach auction.

The 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa auction car debuted at the 1957 Nurburgring 1000 kms but it is not the car's racing history which makes it so valuable, but the fact this is the very first Testa Rossa – the original prototype and rolling testbed for the 250 TR (Testa Rossa) line, one of the most successful sports racing cars ever.

Though Ferrari's Testa Rossa dominated sports car racing for the next half decade, only 34 were ever built, with this car's younger siblings winning the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1958, 1960, and 1961.

This is the original Ferrari Testa Rossa (Testa Rossa means "red head" in Italian), a nickname derived thanks to the bright red rocker covers on THIS CAR - Chassis 0666 TR).

Like many race cars that have seen action over a period, Ferrari 0666 TR is a little bit like Grandpa's axe (which had three heads and 12 handles during its lifetime), as it burned twice and was seriously bent out of shape during the 1958 Le Mans 24 Hour race. It is nonetheless the original Testa Rossa, and hence represents the beginning of a long and glorious history.

The full story of Ferrari 0666 TR regales its provenance in granular detail.

7 – 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus Spider Competizione

US$16,380,895
(sold for £10,753,500)
June, 2014
Goodwood, U.K.

Auctioned by Bonhams [image:278795]

Bonhams describes this car in the auction catalog as an "outstanding example of the biggest-engined, most powerful and most important sports-racing Ferrari model built purely for works team use at the outset of the 1954 International motor racing season."

One of the features of the "works" 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus Spider was its 4.9 litre V12 motor, which was known by the French racing community as "Le Monstre" and by the British as "The Fearsome Four-Nine."

The car ran second in the 1954 Mille Miglia in the hands of Umberto Maglioli, won an international race at Silverstone in May with JoséFroilán González behind the wheel, then Maglioli and Paolo Marzotto used this car in the Le Mans 24 Hour race, swapping the lead with a sister car driven by González and Maurice Trintignant until a gearbox failure finished its race. González and Trintignant won the race in an identical car and both cars shared the fastest lap.

Paolo Marzotto, the driver who had passed the exquisitely talented González (dubbed the "The Pampas Bull" by the British press) for the lead at Le Mans, described this car as "terrifyingly fast" as it had enough torque to out-accelerate anything out of a corner, and enough horsepower to breeze past the aerodynamically superior D-Type Jaguars on the straights.

This particular car has a long and interesting history which is well documented on the Bonhams auction page.

"The Fearsome Four-Nine" is perhaps best known as the winner of the final and fastest Carrera Panamericana in Mexico.

For those unfamiliar with the infamous Carrera Panamericana, it was a road race run on public roads in Mexico from 1950 to 1954. To picture the event, think of famous road races such as the Mille Miglia or Targa Florio on both steroids and acid. The race was twice as long as the Mille Miglia, and with no separation from the public.

The original Carrera Panamericana (it has now been revived in somewhat tamer and saner form) is arguably the fastest and most dangerous road race ever held on public roads, well beyond the African runnings of the Paris-Dakar, an event we previously labelled the world's most dangerous sporting event when it was still being run in Africa.

The 1950-54 Carrera Panamericana comprehensively trumps the Paris-Dakar as the world's most dangerous regularly staged motor race EVER! In five runnings of the Carrera Panamericana, 27 competitors were killed along with an unknown but substantial number of spectators and race officials.

When the race began in 1950, average speed for the 3000+ kilometer course was 142 km/h (88 mph) but by the fifth running, average speeds (remember this was on public roads, indeed, a national highway, and organizer resources to separate the public from the racing were so thin that "collateral damage" was almost guaranteed) had climbed dramatically to an average speed of 173.7 km/h (107.96 mph).

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame British band Pink Floyd's Nick Mason and David Gilmour made a film documentary about the Carrera Panamericana race which can be seen in two parts – part 1 and part 2 – with seven previously unpublished tracks along with some music you will undoubtedly know.

Factory teams from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, Gordini, Buick, Cadillac and Oldsmobile competed, and the world's best drivers (Juan Manuel Fangio, Alberto Ascari, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Ritchie Ginther, Piero Taruffi, Umberto Maglioli, Felice Bonetto, Louis Chiron, Herman Lang, Karl Ling and dozens of other well-known names) drove in the event, and it held world championship status in both 1953 and 1954.

8 - 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

US$15,180,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

This Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider features the highly attractive covered-headlight treatment, which Scaglietti applied to just 37 of the 56 examples built. It is also one of a limited number of SWB California Spiders that came factory-equipped with an optional hardtop. This car has been displayed at such world-renowned events as Concorso Italiano, Monterey Vintage Ferrari Concours and Cavallino Classic, as well as participating in important rallies such as the Colorado Grand and the Copperstate 1000. Accompanied by a Ferrari Classiche certification, it will most likely push its way into the top 20 most valuable cars ever sold at auction, and top 10 is also a possibility.

9 – 1964 Ferrari 250 LM

US$14,300,000
November, 2013
New York, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Described by RM Auctions in the auction catalog as "one of the finest original examples of Ferrari’s first mid-engined car", the Ferrari 250 LM (for "Le Mans") was a derivative of the 250P (for prototype) and 275P mid-engined factory race cars which won the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1963 and 1964 – a genuine racecar available to the public.

Only 32 of the 320 hp V-12 250 LMs were built, and one duly went on to validate its model designation by winning the 1965 Le Mans classic in North American Racing Team (NART) colours, driven by Masten Gregory, Ed Hugus and Jochen Rindt (who would win the World Formula One Champion in 1970, albeit posthumously).

The full history of this car, which included eighth overall and first in class at the 1968 24 Hours of Daytona, can be found on the official RM Auctions page.

10 – 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta 'Competizione'

US$12,745,707
(sold for EUR9,856,000)
May, 2013
Tivoli, Lazio, Italy

Auctioned by RM Auctions

This is a car of legend. It is the CAR in which Umberto Maglioli famously averaged 222 km/h (138 mph) for the final 365 km (227 mile) stage of the infamous Carrera Panamericana to ensure Ferrari won the 1953 World Sports Car Championship - an all-time record for a public road stage that will undoubtedly stand forever, at least in the bizarre circumstance of having the public using the same roads while the race is in progress.

This is one very special automobile for many reasons. It is a genuine factory Ferrari racing car, and was driven in the World Sports Car Championship by three World Champions: Mike Hawthorn, Alberto Ascari, and Giuseppe "Nino" Farina.

It was one of the three works 375 MM cars entered at the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans race where it was disqualified while running in second place (driven by Hawthorn and Farina) because brake fluid had been added during a pit stop on the 12th lap, violating an obscure rule that prohibited the addition of any fluids before the 28th lap.

The car went on to play an integral part of Ferrari’s 1953 World Sports Car Manufacturer’s Championship, participated in the 24 Hour of Spa, and won the 12 Hours of Pescara.

There is one particular feat however, which stands above all that - this car achieved the fastest road stage average speed ever recorded, and in a world championship event at that.

We've already mentioned the outrageous Carrera Panamericana road race staged on public roads in Mexico in the early fifties in coverage of the 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus Spider Competizione which sits in third place in this Top 100 list. The Carrera Panamericana was legally sanctioned insanity.

This car (0320AM) was one of five 375 MM Ferraris entered in the 1953 Carrera Panamericana, all competing under the private banner of Franco Cornacchia’s Scuderia della Guastalla. It began the race driven by Mario Ricci, but during the fifth stage of the Carrera, Umberto Maglioli’s identical 375 MM (0358AM) lost a rear wheel and was unable to continue in the event – the attrition rate was understandably horrific with only one third of cars completing the race.

As the regulations of the Panamericana allowed for the substitution of drivers, Maglioli was then swapped into Ricci’s 0320AM and set about ensuring Ferrari collected the points it needed to overhaul Jaguar in the final event of the 1953 World Sports Car Championship.

Maglioli moved the car from eighth place when he took over, to a sixth place at the finish, but his drive during the eighth and final 365 km (227 mile) stage of the race is the stuff of legend.

In this car, Maglioli AVERAGED 222 km/h (138 mph), an all-time record for a public road stage that will undoubtedly stand forever, at least in the bizarre circumstance of having the public present while the race is in progress.

Part of a world championship, a car of legend, and beautiful too, it has been presented at and awarded at numerous concours d’elegance, including Pebble Beach, the Louis Vuitton Classic, and the Goodwood Revival.

11 – 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

US$12,187,280
(sold for EUR9,020,000)
May, 2009
Maranello,Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Another former world record holder for the most expensive car ever sold at auction, as we predicted and reported back in 2009. This was the fourth Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa built and the second customer car.

12 – 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster

US$11,770,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

This ultra-rare 540 K Special Roadster was purchased new in 1936 as the personal car of Baroness Gisela von Krieger of Prussia. Among the very elite of international society, the beautiful Baroness was named one of the ten most fashionable women in the world, mixed with European society's elite, led a very colourful lifestyle and kept the car until her passing in 1989.

Like most cars on this list, this Hermann Ahrens-designed Special Roadster 540 K Special Roadster has a tale to tell. The beautiful Baroness enjoyed a privileged life for many years, residing at the Ritz and Hotel Le Meurice in Paris, Hotel Martinez in Cannes, and frequenting the best European destinations and social events, including the coronation of King George VI. Suitors adored and admired her, and in one account a devastated gentleman jumped out of a plane to his death after his proposal of marriage was declined.

Unlike many supercharged Mercedes-Benz, which were often stolen or lost during the war, the von Krieger’s Special Roadster remained an important possession of the family, carefully stored and accounted for even while they lived outside of Germany avoiding Nazi orders. In 1942, at the height of the war, Baroness Gisela shipped the car to Switzerland.

With her beloved Special Roadster as a comforting reminder of her carefree past, she continued traveling on her own for several years throughout Europe seeking sanctuary from the war. After the war ended and the family reunited, Gisela and her brother Henning moved to New York, shipping the Special Roadster on the Queen Elizabeth. To escape the city’s heat, Baroness von Krieger summered at the Homestead Inn in Greenwich, where she kept her precious Special Roadster.

Following the death of her brother and mother, Baroness Gisela returned to Switzerland where she lived as a recluse until her passing in 1989. Still among her impressive possessions was the Mercedes-Benz Special Roadster, tucked away in a Greenwich garage for the better part of four decades. The 540 K remained an undisturbed time capsule, with such items as the Baroness’s driving maps, lipstick-stained cigarette butts and silk gloves intact.

13 - 1964 Ferrari 250 LM by Scaglietti

US$11,550,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Like the Ferrari GTO, (the car it replaced), the LM is another model which is destined for public recognition due to the prices it commands on the auction block. Ferrari won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1963 and at the Paris Automobile Show in October 1963 it showed the replacement for the GTO – the 250 LM. Though it had been intended to compete in the GT category, only 32 units were ever built and 100 were needed for homologation, so it had to compete in the prototype class. It nonetheless lived up to its name and won Le Mans outright in 1965 at the hands of the NART driving combination of Masten Gregory, Ed Hugus and Jochen Rindt.

14 – 1960 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Competizione Spider

US$11,275,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

Ferrari’s California Spider is widely recognized as one of the greatest sports cars of all time and thus an important inclusion in any premier post-war collection. This 1960 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Alloy California Spider, chassis 1639 GT, is one of only nine alloy-bodied LWB California Spiders ever built and with ultra-desirable covered headlights and full race specifications, this beautiful sports car is even more rare.

When new, this car was delivered to the prestigious Illinois-based Ferrari dealer and racer George Reed and displayed at the 1960 Chicago Auto Show. In the late 1970s, Sherman Wolf purchased the California Spider, a significant acquisition for the first-time Ferrari owner who later drove it on the inaugural Colorado Grand.

In addition to its lightweight alloy body, it is equipped with full competition specifications including an outside plug motor with TR heads, disc brakes, velocity stacks and a ribbed gearbox. Restored by Ferrari specialist David Carte, this alloy-bodied California Spider remains in show condition and is among the most desirable 250 Ferraris in existence.

15 – 1968 Ford GT40

The most valuable movie car ever sold at auction

US$11,000,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

The camera car for the 1971 blockbuster Steve McQueen film Le Mans, the full history of this GT40 is available on the official RM auction page and its drivers during its racing period include Jacky Ickx, Dr. Dick Thompson, David Hobbs, Brian Redman, Mike Hailwood, and Paul Hawkins.

Ford's GT40 was the American car which took on Ferrari in endurance racing and won (full history here).

This 1968 GT40 was the first of three lightweight production GT40s which number among the very first race cars to utilise carbon fibre-reinforced bodywork, and one of just two surviving examples.

The full history of this car is available on the official RM auction page where its drivers list some of the best of its racing period including Jacky Ickx, Mike Hailwood, Dr. Dick Thompson, David Hobbs, Brian Redman, and Paul Hawkins.

Undoubtedly, Le Mans is one of the best films ever made about motor racing, but it is the association with the film in general and Steve McQueen in particular that has most likely added the X-factor which vaulted this car into the most valuable cars ever sold at auction.

16 – 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

US$10,894,900
(sold for EUR7,040,000)
May, 2008
Maranello,Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Auctioned by RM/Sothebys

James Coburn in the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider which set a world record of EUR 7,040,000 (US$10,894,900) at RM Auctions Ferrari – Leggenda e Passione" auction in May, 2008. Image: RM Auctions

You'll find this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider listed in many reputable internet sites as the Ferrari driven in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – it's not the car used in that movie, though this particular Spider was owned and loved for more than 20 years by one of the screen's greatest male leads, James Coburn.

At an RM Auction in 2008, British TV and radio personality Chris Evans purchased the car for US$10.894 million, which at the time was a world record.

17 – 1931 Duesenberg Model J Long-Wheelbase Coupe

US$10,340,000
August, 2011
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

In its press release announcing the forthcoming offering of this vehicle,Gooding & Company, described it as "the most elegant American Classic ever created":

A bespoke Duesenberg Long Wheelbase Model J, the Whittell Coupe was originally designed by Murphy Coach Builders under the direction of one of America’s outlandish Roaring Twenties bad boys, Captain George Whittell Jr.

Beautifully-restored and boasting just 12,000 original miles, the automotive masterpiece captivates admirers with its striking and glamorous black, red and chrome livery. Originally purchased in 1931 for $17,000, the Whittell Coupe is now considered to be one of the most extraordinary and valuable Duesenbergs in existence.

Historically, Duesenberg Model J owners were among the most powerful and worldly of America’s pre-war elite and, with six model Js in his collection, George Whittell was Duesenberg’s best customer of all time, even surpassing Clark Gable and Gary Cooper,” said David Gooding, President and founder of Gooding & Company. “In my opinion, the Whittell Coupe we are presenting in Pebble Beach is the most elegant custom-bodied American Classic ever created and among the finest automobiles built prior to World War II.

Captain George Whittell Jr. was heir to an impressive California Gold Rush and real estate fortune, and the ultimate playboy of his day, who famously liquidated his entire stock portfolio (approximately $50 Million at the time) just two weeks before the infamous stock market crash of 1929. A larger-than-life public figure in San Francisco society, Whittell engaged in numerous escapades with women, reckless street racing and outrageous public appearances, like the time he famously showed up to a local tavern with Bill, his pet lion. Whittell’s love for exotic beasts, along with his appreciation of technology, influenced his many private collections and the creative design of his legendary 40,000–acre Lake Tahoe estate, Thunderbird Lodge.

The Whittell Coupe is the result of a unique collaboration between Captain Whittell and legendary automotive stylist, Franklin Q. Hershey, who began his career at Murphy Coach Builders just before Whittell commissioned the renowned Pasadena firm to create this Duesenberg. The Whittell Coupe was one of Hershey’s earliest projects and its brilliance helped launch him on a successful design career. Recognized for his great influence in the automotive community, Hershey was elected to be an honorary judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1988, a role he served for nearly ten years.

The entire car is a masterpiece and one of the few automotive designs that is perfectly proportioned from every perspective,” adds Gooding & Company Specialist David Brynan. “And the interior, in and of itself, is a work of deco-era art, which is a key feature that makes the Whittell Coupe stand apart.

The culmination of Whittell’s visionary ideas of proportion and detail resulted in one of the most exquisitely-executed Classic cars of all time. Under his direction, the powerful two-passenger, sporting coupe was constructed atop a long-wheelbase chassis, which added a dramatic 11 inches to the standard Model J frame. The most distinguishing feature of the Duesenberg is its low-slung, brushed-aluminum roof, designed with a complete folding top mechanism and exterior “bows”, to mimic the closed fabric top of a convertible coupe.

The car is enhanced with numerous unique characteristics including a chrome-plated gas tank, port and starboard lights inspired by the Captain’s love of boats and a polished chrome “waterfall” adorning the rear deck. The Whittell Coupe also boasts a lavish black patent leather interior, decorated with a polished-aluminum and black Bakelite cockpit, as well as a brilliant red undercarriage, just as it did when Whittell took delivery in 1931. With the turn of its key, the Whittell Coupe’s mighty 420 cubic inch, inline eight-cylinder engine springs to life with a low rumble, and the gentleman’s car smoothly transitions from a still beauty to a powerful mechanical masterpiece.

18 - 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

US$10,175,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Delivered new to Hollywood and motoring icon Steve McQueen on the set of the movie Bullitt and owned by McQueen for more than four years, the car was subsequently owned by Guy Williams, of Zorro and Lost in Space fame.

Restored by Ferrari Classiche to McQueen’s original specification, the car is Classiche certified, spent time in Ferrari's museum exhibit "From Cinecittà to Hollywood" and pror to this sale was owned by former F1, Indy, and Le Mans racer Vern Schuppan.

So beloved by the baby boomer generation is McQueen that the race suit he wore as Michael Delaney in the film Le Mans was sold at auction by memorabilia specialist Profiles in History for an astonishing $984,000 – almost as much as the 1971 Porsche 911S which he drove for the first three minutes and 40 seconds of the 1971 film.

19 – 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster

US$9,680,000
August, 2011
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

The Mercedes-Benz 540 K was one of the most prestigious and – in the eyes of many – the most beautiful automobile of the interwar years. Its combination of power, light weight and sheer beauty made it the master of the road, and it was a testimonial to the astonishing capabilities of the German automotive engineers of the day.

It was also breathtakingly expensive, guaranteeing exclusivity amongst its owners; just 419 chassis were built, and of those, only 25 carried the superlative long tail Spezial Roadster coachwork that may well have been the high point of the coachbuilder’s art at Mercedes-Benz’s own "Sonderwagenbau" in Sindelfingen.

Of the 25 540 K Spezial Roadsters, only a limited few were created in the long tail style with a cover over the single spare tire recessed into the rear deck, one of which this car is one.

20 – 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe

US$9,666,250
(sold for £5,500,000)
November, 1987
London, U.K.

Auctioned by Christies

The 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe sold for £5,500,000 (US$9,666,250) in November, 1987 at a Christies auction in London. It was for many years the most expensive car ever sold at auction and still retains a place in the top 20 more than a quarter of a century later.

The Type 41 "La Royale" was a massive project championed by Jean Bugatti designed to create a car exclusively for royalty, and when conceived, it was anticipated that 25 would be built.

This particular car was personally commissioned by Ettore Bugatti to Kellner Coachbuilding Company with a view to making an impression on the rich British marketplace at the 1932 Olympia Show.

At £6,500, it was the most expensive car at the show. Allowing for inflation and exchange rates at the time (GBP1.00 = US$4.87) puts its relative value at US$458,000.

The Great Depression was taking its toll however, and despite the grandest plans of the world's most technologically outstanding automaker of the day, only a handful of T41s were ever built (believed to be six or seven units). Despite this failure in business terms, the "Royale" was one of the largest and most extravagant automobiles ever created.

The Kellner car failed to sell in depression-racked Britain and remained in the Bugatti family until after WWII when it was purchased from L'Ebe Bugatti by Briggs Cunningham to become part of his famous collection which was on display for many years at the Cunningham Museum in Costa Mesa, California. The car was sold by Cunningham in this sale and unconfirmed reports suggest it was privately resold in 1990 at a price around double this one. Ownership is presently unknown, though Volkswagen Group, owner of the Bugatti marque, is known to have purchased at least two of the six known Royales.

21 – 1964 Ferrari 250 LM by Scaglietti

US$ $9,625,000
January, 2015
Scottsdale, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Ferrari’s 250 LM holds a special place in Ferrari history, being the last car from Maranello to win the prestigious “24 Heures du Mans” half a century ago (1965). This car is the ninth of 32 LMs built, has an extensive race history (including an initial campaign by Scuderia Filipinetti with Ludovico Scarfiotti and Nino Vaccarella behind the wheel) and has at times been fitted with a different engine, had its chassis shortened, and been fitted with the body of a Porsche 906 Carrera, complete with gullwing doors. It was purchased in 1977 by Eric Stewart (from British pop band 10CC) who set about restoring it to original factory condition including finding and fitting the original motor. That massive restoration resulted in Ferrari Classiche certification. The end result is that the car was sold on January 17, 2015 at RM’s Scottsdale auction for US$ $9,625,000, along with a complete ownership history (including such notable collectors as Paul Schouwenburg, Lord Irvine Laidlaw, Federico Della Noce, and Henri-Louis Maunoir) documented by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini.

22 – 1957 Ferrari 250 GT

US$9,460,000
January, 2014
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

One of only nine examples built and eight remaining, this 1957 Ferrari 250 GT has seen action in some of the great races, including ninth outright and fourth in class in the 1957 Mille Miglia, fourth outright in the 1957 Coppa Inter-Europa and a participant in the inaugural Colorado Grand, making it eligible for participation in the Mille Miglia and similar prestigious events of today. An exacting restoration by Dennison International, 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Award Winner and full documentation by Ferrari Historian Marcel Massini.

23 – 1935 Alfa Romeo Tipo C 8C-35

US$9,425,188
(sold for GBP£5,937,500)
September, 2013
Goodwood, United Kingdom

Auctioned by Bonhams

One of the great pre-war Grand Prix racing cars - the ex-Tazio Nuvolari 1935 Alfa Romeo Tipo C 8C-35 '50013' - Scuderia Ferrari Nr '65' sold for GBP£5,937,500 at Bonhams Goodwood Revival Meeting on September 14, 2013, setting a new world record for an Alfa Romeo sold at auction.

The 330-horsepower supercharged Alfa Romeo 8C-35 was campaigned as new by Alfa's proxy factory team, the celebrated Scuderia Ferrari – including the legendary Tazio Nuvolari, one of the greatest racing drivers of all time.

The supercharged Alfa Romeo Tipo C 8C-35 Grand Prix car is a superb example of the first all-independently-suspended, big-engined Grand Prix racing design from Alfa Romeo which the Portello factory tailor-made in 1936 to combat the might of the rival State-backed German 'Silver Arrow' Mercedes-Benz W25E and Auto Union C-Type cars. It was in this Alfa Romeo and its sisters that the legendary Italian superstar driver Tazio Nuvolari and his team-mates fought a bitter rearguard action against the overwhelming might of the German teams and their own star drivers such as Bernd Rosemeyer, Rudi Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Hans Stuck. Here is an artifact which in essence these great names would have seen, touched, experienced, campaigned and confronted around the world's most demanding road racing circuits of the mid-1930s.

24 – 1966 Ferrari 275GTB Competizione

US$9,405,000
January, 2015
Scottsdale, Arizona

Auctioned by Bonhams

A three-time participant in the GT Class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and boasting the 1967 GT Class win in the race (and 11th outright), this 1966 Ferrari 275GTB Competizione (chassis 09079) was campaigned by the famous Scuderia Filipinetti, one of Ferrari's four factory-preferred privateer teams.

With class wins in both the 1000 Kms de Spa-Francorchamps and 500 Kms de Imola, chassis 09079 has an impeccable race provenance, combined with rarity and specialty of construction, being the second-to-last GT car ever built by Ferrari's factory competition department, representing a long line of important models dating to the 340 Mexico and 166 MM.

The car is certified by Ferrari Classiche and accompanied by an original factory build card, promising to draw major consideration at world-class Concours d'Elegance and prestigious Ferrari events. At Pebble Beach, this car was adjudged second in its class, losing by a few tenths of a point to the prototype Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (chassis no. 0666TR) which sits in the top ten cars on this listing.

In October 2014, this car enjoyed the distinguished privilege of being invited by Ferrari to take part in Driving Through the Decades, the 60th Anniversary celebration of Ferrari North America held in Beverly Hills, California. The Competizione was one of just sixty special Ferraris from across America chosen for display on the Sunday morning concours on Rodeo Drive, a rare honor and indication of just how significant the car is among Ferrari's greatest motorcars.

The car’s rich history is covered in great detail on the Bonhams catalogue page.

25 – 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM Spider

US$9,288,469
(sold for EUR6,875,000)
May, 2007
Maranello,Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Auctioned by RM/Sothebys

Another Ferrari with all the boxes ticked for a stellar price, this car is the very last Testa Rossa and also the last front-engined sports racing car built by Ferrari. As the official RM auction page for the car points out, "The first car in a series is good. But the last car is best. It is inevitably refined, improved and developed. Its weaknesses have been addressed and its strengths have been enhanced."

This 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM, chassis number 0808, is also the only 4-litre Testa Rossa built, and was driven by the highly successful endurance racing pairing of Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien to outright victory in the 1962 Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

There is much more to this car. Technically, it has twice qualified for a top 20 placing on this listing, having been auctioned by RM Auctions at Pebble Beach in August, 2002, selling for US$6,490,000. It would no doubt move into a top ten spot if it were to cross the auction block again.

26 – 1953 Ferrari 375 MM Spider

US$9,075,000
August, 2013
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

This car was commissioned, owned, and raced new by legendary driver, James "Gentleman Jim" Kimberly, the grandson of one of four founders of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, which produced Kleenex and a variety of other paper products. It then proceeded to win all but one of the races in the 1954 SCCA National Championship.

It is one of only twelve 375MM Spiders, the only 375MM Spider with unique pontoon-fenders, and liveried in unique "Kimberly Red."

A detailed and illustrious provenance, an exhaustive and well-documented restoration and single-family ownership from 1968 until it was auctioned at Monterey in 2013 resulted in its stellar price.

27 – 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider

US$8,800,000
January, 2014
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

This car is the eleventh of just 50 LWB California Spiders built. The California Spider is as close as Ferrari came to building a touring class sports car since the early Barchettas, and only it and the later 275 GTB/4 N.A.R.T. Spiders have the elemental high-speed, open-air attitude that sets these cars apart from their more common cabriolet counterparts. Chassis 1055 GT is a spectacular example, with a notable absence of apparent or known damage in its well-documented past. Photo: Patrick Ernzen

28 – 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante

US$8,745,000
August, 2013
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

The 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante is an undisputed masterpiece of automotive art, designed by Jean Bugatti with a competition-derived surbaisse chassis and a factory supercharger.

Just two supercharged Type 57SC cars were built new, but most 57S owners wanted the additional power afforded by the blower. Therefore, most of the original Type 57S cars returned to Molsheim for the installation of a supercharger, pushing output from 175 hp (130 kW) to 200 hp (150 kW) and 120 mph (190 km/h).

This 1937 SC is an extremely authentic example with original chassis, engine and coachwork and features outstanding, unbroken provenance including participation in the prestigious inaugural International Bugatti Meeting in 1958.

Faithfully presented at auction in its original black livery, this Bugatti was masterfully restored to the highest standards and was awarded first in class at The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2011. Fully documented by Bugatti Historian Julius Kruta.

29 – 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

US$8,580,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Another stunning SWB 250 GT California Spider (chassis no. 3119 GT). Sold new in March 1962, through the official Belgian importer Jacques Swaters’, eventually finding its way to the United Staes. The car was shown at the 40th Annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won its class. It was subsequently shown at the 29th Annual Ferrari Club of America national meeting in Palm Beach, where it was also a class winner. Full history.

30 – 1997 McLaren F1

US$8,470,000
August, 2013, Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

The McLaren F1 is a modern day supercar that became an instant collectible when it was released in 1994.

McLaren developed a racing version of the F1 road car to run in the FIA GT1 category in the 1995 season. Despite a design and development period of just 3 months, the F1 GTR swept all before it, winning not only the 1995 GT1 Championship, but also the 24 Heures du Mans on its debut.

McLaren not only won, but dominated the rain-soaked endurance race, finishing in 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th places.

Just how collectible the F1 would become was not entirely evident at the time the cars were available, but it's stocks grew quite quickly.

In 1998, with a total of 106 of all variants built and its production run complete, the McLaren F1 went on to achieve its greatest feat outside competitive motorsport. McLaren development and race driver Andy Wallace took XP5, the fifth and final prototype F1 with some 45,000 hard test miles on the clock, to the Ehra-Lessien proving ground in Germany and on 31st March 1998 set a world record for a production car of 240.1mph.

Several production cars have since gone faster (the Koenigsegg Agera R, the Bugatti Veyron, the SSC Ultimate Aero TT, the Hennessey Venom GT and the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport), but the McLaren F1 remains the fastest naturally-aspirated (i.e. not turbo-charged or super-charged) production car to this day. There are many "firsts" which make the McLaren F1 road car very special but the biggest was that unlike previous supercars, it was not constructed primarily of metal (or wood).

In 1981, McLaren became the first team in Formula 1 to use a carbon fibre chassis and in 1984 it used those techniques to create the most successful Formula 1 car in history – the McLaren MP4/4.

Having completed just a handful of laps in the new 1988 MP4/4 at the beginning of 1984, Alain Prost reportedly told Team Principle Ron Dennis that he knew the car would win the World Championship. The car won 15 of 16 races in the hands of Prost and Ayrton Senna.

The construction techniques refined in Formula One were developed to create the carbon monocoque for the McLaren F1 with the resulting structure weighing just 100 kg whilst offering the highest levels of strength and safety. The bare carbon fibre passenger doors weighed just 7 kg each (which included the weight of the side intrusion beam).

The F1 defined the McLaren road car DNA: low weight, low polar moment of inertia, clever packaging, superb quality and innovative design, resulting in an outstanding driving experience.

The F1 bristles with innovative design. The central driving position, which ensures superb visibility and no compromise on control positions for the driver; the pannier side lockers providing unprecedented levels of luggage capacity in a car of this type; the patented suspension system to provide both control and ride quality.

The McLaren F1 was launched at a price of £540,000 in 1994 – at an exchange rate of 1.5355, that price of US$829,170 represents an excellent investment by comparison to the US$8,470,000 paid for this 1997 model at Pebble Beach in 2013. For a recent road car, it's unprecedented.

Over the course of the next four years (1994-98), just 64 F1 road cars were produced, plus five F1 LM and three F1 GT road cars. There were also 28 F1 GTR race cars and six prototypes produced.

The word was out long before the 2013 Pebble Beach sale that the McLaren F1 was going to become a benchmark in automobile investment – one of those cars which would become so cherished by collectors and drive values forever skyward.

A 1997 McLaren F1 recently deposed from this Top 100 list was sold at RM Auctions' Automobiles of London sale in October, 2008 for £2,530,000 (US$4,058,120).

There were those who thought the price paid was one of those irrational behaviors which auctions regularly throw up, and there were those who thought it indicative that the modern day supercar had been recognized. The latter is now known to be true, and already that investment is proving to be spectacularly successful.

A 1995 McLaren F1 was sold by Gooding & Co at the same Pebble Beach venue in 2010 for US$3,575,000 and it seems certain that other McLaren F1s will appear over the coming years.

So newsworthy are the F1s that reports of private sales are surfacing. The U.K. Sun reported an F1 sold privately for £3,500,000 (US$5,580,000) in November 2012.

Jalopnik recently reported that an F1 (chassis #28) which McLaren built for Michael Andretti to secure "his early departure from their F1 team" had changed hands yet again, for a reported US$10.5 million.

There is of course, an even rarer and more powerful F1 – the F1 LM.

This is McLaren's description of the LM: The McLaren F1 LM was a more extreme version of the F1 road car, and even more than the GTR on which it was based. With a version of the race-spec 6.1-litre V12 BMW engine from the F1 GTR, but without any race restrictors, the F1 LM produces more power – 680 bhp in total.

The styling is heavily derived from the race-winning car, with the front bodywork and rear wing are based on those of the GTR, and full underbody ground effect with a Le Mans-inspired diffuser to optimise downforce. Weight-saving measures are extreme as well, with the F1 LM actually tipping the scales 60 kg lighter than the race version.

The XP car, along with three of the five production models, is finished in the historic Papaya orange paintwork, in homage to the early Bruce McLaren racing cars.

In 1999, XP1 LM joined the standard McLaren F1 road car in the record books, when Andy Wallace set a new 0-100-0 mph standard of 11.5 seconds at RAF Alconbury. Acceleration was such that, from a standstill, 60 mph was reached in less than 4 seconds, 100 mph within 7 seconds, on to a top speed of 225 mph.

While this is lower than the "standard" McLaren F1 due to the GTR-derived rear wing which increases drag, the improved levels of downforce give considerable advantage to cornering performance.

The Sultan of Brunei reportedly purchased two of the five LMs, with special black paint. Don't expect any F1 LMs at market any time soon, but if they did appear, they'd be at the top of this list.

31 – 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider

US$8,250,000
January, 2013
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

31 – 1955 Ferrari 410S

US$8,250,000
August, 2012, Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

31 – 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo Roadster

US$8,250,000
August, 2013
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

It's little surprise that this 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S fetched a price of US$8,250,000 at auction, having Best of Show title at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The bodywork was designed by famous French coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik, captured the hearts of the judges, who named it the finest vehicle on display at the prestigious event – quite some honour considering the company.

The low-slung torpedo roadster body by Carrosserie J. Saoutchik, of Paris, is a perfect example of coachbuilding of the late 1920s. It showcases some of the more exotic materials available to the coachbuilders of the day. The hides used to create the lizard skin interior were supplied by Alpina, a company that sourced products from the French colonies in Southeast Asia. The beautiful trim wood, known as Purpleheart, was also sourced out of the French colonies in South America.

Establishing himself by creating stylish designs coupled with high-quality workmanship, Saoutchik took many risks with design and materials. Nicknamed the “Viollet-le-Duc,” after a famously creative French architect, he was obsessed by form and often used brightwork appliqué to highlight the strong lines of his coachwork.

His background as a cabinet maker is evidenced in the tight tolerances and body panel fits that can be seen on his creations. One of his favoured design features, the disappearing top, provides an elegant and innovative solution to hide the convertible top.

33 – 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione

US$8,140,000
January, 2013
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

In the finest tradition of Ferrari’s dual-purpose road and racing berlinettas, the new 250 GT SWB was a tractable and well-mannered daily driver about town, but it was a veritable beast in a race, where the ever more powerfully-tuned Colombo V-12 and revised rear suspension delivered unprecedented performance.

Competition-specification cars with additionally uprated engines and lighweight alloy aluminum bodies were immediately made available for racing customers, 43 of these competizione examples were made in the model’s first year of production, 1960. (Just two SWB examples were produced in late-1959, the show cars of Paris and Torino.)

The SWB immediately fulfilled the legacy of its LWB predecessor, claiming victories at the Tour de France from 1960 to 1962, and at the RAC Tourist Trophy classic races at Goodwood in 1960 and 1961, where famed driver Stirling Moss was overwhelming in his praise of the car. “As a grand touring car for really serious road racing,” he later recalled of the SWB, “it was quite difficult to fault, in fact.”

34 – 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster

US$8,106,150
(sold for £3,905,000)
October, 2007
London, U.K.

Auctioned by RM/Sothebys

Mercedes-Benz built 406 of its powerful, massive 540K models and only 26 of them were the sleek, luxurious, imposing Special Roadsters such as this 1937 model. One of the most striking variations on the Special Roadster theme, it is the high-door, long-tail version with exposed spare wheels and tyres built into the rear deck. The car was delivered new through Mercedes-Benz UK in 1937 to Sir John Chubb, of the lock family.

After the war, the ownership of this car changed hands several times, crossing the Atlantic twice and along the way picking up an Antique Automobile Club of America National First Place award in 1987 and a first in class award at Pebble Beach in 1988.

It became part of the Bernie Ecclestone Collection in 1995 and was sold by RM/Sothebys for US$8,252,201 in October, 2007.

35 – 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante Coupe

US$7,920,000
August, 2008
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

36 – 1929 4½-Litre Supercharged 'Blower' Bentley Single-Seater

US$7,906,745
(Sold for £5,041,500)
June, 2012, Goodwood,Sussex, U.K.

Auctioned by Bonhams

The Blower Bentley in main and top right on the Brooklands banking. Top left is two-time Le Mans winner Sir Henry Birkit and many-time land speed record holder Malcolm Campbell, waiting for a race to get underway.

This 1929 4½-Litre "Blower" (supercharged) Bentley has a provenance of the highest order, having broken the Brooklands outer circuit lap record in 1931, been owned by the famous horseracing and motorsport identity Dorothy Paget, and campaigned by the diminutive Bentley-driving Baronet, Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin.

Birkin combined his "Bentley Boy" high-society image with a fearless driving talent and was the hero of a generation of British motor racing enthusiasts. "Tiger Tim's" militarily-moustachioed, be-goggled figure, in his neat wind cap, often with a polka-dot scarf fluttering in the slipstream, personified an English ideal. This so-British hero became the absolute epitome of Imperial power, speed and daring ... full story here .

37 – 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione "Tour de France"

US$7,862,554
(Sold for £4,872,000)
September, 2014
London, U.K.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

38 – 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB / C by Scaglietti

US$7,860,285
(Sold for EUR €5,712,000)
May, 2014
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Auctioned by RM Auctions

The ninth of 12 examples of the Ferrari 275 GTB / C produced and perhaps the finest, most original example of its kind. Fully matching numbers with Ferrari Classiche certification.

39 – 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider

US$7,700,000
May, 2015
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

One of only 50 Long Wheelbase California Spiders ever built, this car is not a perfectly restored example of one of Ferrari’s most sought-after models, but a car that was purchased 45 years ago by the late Jack Caster, and driven regularly until the well-known collector passed away. Castor also owned Elvis Presley’s BMW 507.

In an article in Forza magazine, Jack said of the car, “I drive this car now far more than I did back when I first bought it. Most Cal Spiders are restored, perfect, and are trucked to shows. I like this one the way it is, so I don’t have to worry about getting a scratch. I can just drive it and enjoy it.”

Despite his relatively modest means, Jack Castor sold his VW Beetle in 1972 and took out a loan to buy the Ferrari for US$2950 (with shipping from Italy and import duties, it cost him $3,750) because he was so taken with the model.

Over the years, he happily rebuffed countless written and verbal offers to purchase the Ferrari. As letters arrived in his mailbox, promising ever-increasing sums of money in exchange for the California Spider, Jack politely dismissed each offer, telling hopeful suitors that he would prefer to drive and enjoy his car.

Although more than 55 years have passed since it left the factory, 1425 GT has never warranted a full restoration. Simply maintained as required, the Ferrari is largely unchanged since Jack Castor acquired it over 45 years ago. Still wearing its late 1960s red paint and original black leather upholstery, this California Spider possesses a glorious, irreplaceable patina that is sure to resonate with sophisticated collectors.

The late Jack Castor’s 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider sold at auction on January 16 for $7,700,000.

40 – 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe

The second most valuable movie car ever sold at auction
US$7,685,000
August, 2009, Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Mecum Auctions

The second most expensive "movie car" in history, though to be fair, it's a car with an impeccable race history and world championship in its own right that just happened to have also been used in a film – the immense price this car fetched at auction can almost entirely be attributed to its racing provenance.

This 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe is one of Carroll Shelby's Daytona Cobras which was used to win the F.I.A. (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) World Manufacturers Championship for GT cars in 1965.

Subsequent to the win, the car was leased to Paramount Pictures for use in director Howard Hawkes cult classic movie Redline 7000 (1965).

41 – 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster

US$7,480,000
August, 2013
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

This particular 540K has a fascinating history, having been driven in Germany until the war, then commandeered by a conquering Soviet General. In 1962, it was discovered in the Soviet Union by a Swedish newspaper reporter who then had to negotiate its purchase and repatriation to the West at the height of the Cold War. Read on ... Photo: Pawel Litwinski

Mercedes-Benz’s success with the 500K was aided by the continuing defaults of its sporting luxury competitors as the Great Depression worked its way through the ranks of society, politics, royalty, and finance. In 1936, the company followed up on that success with the 540K. Regarded by many and respected by all as the high point of the Classic Era among German automobiles, the 540K reflected the restless pursuit of perfection by Mercedes-Benz’s engineers, technicians, and craftsmen, and by the coachbuilders of the Sindelfingen Werke.

The ultimate 540K was the Special Roadster. Constructed on a nearly 130-inch wheelbase chassis and stretching over 17.5 feet in overall length, it was a massive automobile in which to accommodate only two passengers. Yet, that awe-inspiring blend of cost-be-cursed size, performance, and style is what gave it a commanding presence that remains palpable in any surroundings. Better still, Hermann Ahrens and the Sindelfingen designers succeeded in so skillfully blending the car’s styling elements that its overall proportions are harmonious.

This particular 540K has a fascinating history, having been driven in Germany until the war, then commandeered by a conquering Soviet General. In 1962, it was discovered in the Soviet Union by a Swedish newspaper reporter who then had to negotiate its purchase and repatriation to the West at the height of the Cold War. Read on ...

42 – 1929 Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSK

US$7,427,010
(Sold for £4,181,500)
September, 2004
Goodwood, Sussex, U.K.

Auctioned by Bonhams

George Milligen was a teenager when the British press began to carry prominent coverage of the S-series Mercedes-Benz models of the 1920s. Mercedes' competition successes were followed by advertisements which justifiably screamed, in capital letters, THE FASTEST SPORTS CAR IN THE WORLD.

In the advertising style of the period the adverts read: The many years of the Mercedes factory in the manufacture of Sports Cars, combined with their well-known workmanship and materials used, has enabled them to construct this super sports model. The Model possesses a high maximum speed, a power of acceleration which was considered unattainable hitherto, wonderful hill-climbing and the highest possible degree of reliability.

It has put up a number of records in the Sports Classes and in the 1927 German Grand Prix, against considerable international competition (it) obtained FIRST, SECOND & THIRD PLACES.

It would be fourteen years before George Milligen would get an opportunity to engage directly with a Mercedes-Benz of his own, but this car which Bonhams sold at Goodwood in 2004 for £4,181,500 (US$7,427,010) was the car Milligen purchased second-hand just prior to WWII – this 1929 7.1-litre Mercedes-Benz 38/250 Model SSK Short Wheelbase Two-Seat Sports Tourer. The full story is on the official auction page.

43 – 1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Double Pullman Limousine

US$7,379,785
(Sold for £4,705,500)
June, 2012
Goodwood, Sussex, U.K.

Auctioned by Bonhams

This 1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Double Pullman Silver Ghost Limousine, is one of the most recognizable classic cars in the world, thanks to being chosen as a model for the Corgi Classics series of die-cast model cars.

It was created at a time when custom coachbuilders flourished – craftsmen of extraordinary skill made one-off automobile bodies for the the rich. The Pullman Limousine style is named after American Railway Car manufacturer George Pullman's luxurious and extravagant railway cars, so the intention from the beginning was to create a grand opulent vehicle.

It was built on the Silver Ghost chassis, which had been proclaimed by the highly influential Autocar magazine as "the best car in the world" just five years prior, by Barker & Co. of South Audley St., London and delivered new to John M. Stephens in South Croydon.

Stephens had previously purchased the first-ever Silver Ghost, and he was the first of a string of prominent collectors to own the car. Since WWII, the car has been part of several of the world's finest automobile collections, including those of John C. Sword, Denis de Ferranti, Richard Solove and John M. O'Quinn.

The car that Sports Car Market magazine once described as "a masterpiece of elephantine Edwardian elegance" was expected to fetch in excess of £2,000,000 when it went under the hammer in June, 2012, but eventually the bidding stopped at more than twice that amount – £4,705,500 (US$7,379,785). The image gallery for this car is truly breathtaking.

44 – 1904 Rolls-Royce 10 hp Two-Seater

US$7,274,300
(Sold for £3,251,500)
December, 2007
London, U.K.


Auctioned by Bonhams

This car carries with it great historical significance, being the oldest known Rolls-Royce in the World.

It was just the fourth car to carry the Rolls-Royce name and Barker coachbuilders were commissioned to build the Park Phaeton coachwork.

It was then driven to Southampton, shipped across the channel to Le Havre then driven to Paris where it was exhibited at the Salon de L'Automobile, an exhibition that ran from December 9–25, 1904. It was then exhibited at the Olympia Motor Exhibition in London in February 1905 on the Rolls-Royce stand.

The entire story of the beginnings of the famous Rolls-Royce brand can be found on the official auction page for the car, which sold for £3,521,500 (US$7,254,290) in 2007.

45 – 1953 Ferrari 250 Mille Miglia Berlinetta

US$ 7,260,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Bonhams

The Ferrari 250 Mille Miglia was tailor-made to compete in the marque long-distance races, using the new 3-liter V12 engine, a longer wheelbase chassis and the artistry of Carrozzeria Pinin Farina which created the two-seat closed-cabin bodywork. The new model was launched at the 1953 Geneva Salon as the Ferrari 250 MM (for Mille Miglia).

In May 1954, Road & Track tested a Ferrari 250 MM and recorded 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) time of 5.1 seconds, and 0-100 mph (161 km/h) in 13.7. "Never before have I accelerated so rapidly, traveled so fast, or decelerated so suddenly," wrote R&T's Technical Editor.

The Ferrari 250 MM on offer is an outstanding example of Ferrari's first 3-liter V12-engined Gran Turismo family – launching the line that over the following decade would spawn the 250 Tour de France, 250 GT SWB and 250 GTO models. It was the 17th of 31 Ferrari 250 MMs to be built overall, and the 11th of the 250 MM Pinin Farina Berlinettas.

It was sold in America and the first race outing of the new Ferrari was the Sports Car Club of America San Francisco Region's 3rd Annual Members' Madera race meeting on September 20 that year. New owner Bill Devin finished third in the novice event before handing the car over to fast-rising Santa Monica driver Phil Hill, who won the main event of the day. Phil Hill would go on to win the Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship as a works Ferrari team member in 1961. Plenty of wonderful history with this car, which also includes Count Vittorio Zanon in its resume.

45 – 1959 Ferrari 250 LWB California Spider Competizione

US$7,260,000
August, 2010
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

An alloy 1959 Ferrari 250 LWB California Spider Competizione had some credible racing results including fifth outright in the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring and third outright at the 1960 Nassau TT. It was sold by Gooding & Co for US$7,260,000 at Pebble Beach 2010

47 – 1955 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione

US$7,150,000
August, 2013
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

This 1955 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione was one of the first 250 GT Competition cars. With coachwork by Pinin Farina, it was delivered new to legendary racing driver Alfonso de Portago and raced at the 1955 Nassau Speed Week.

A known, continuous ownership, the car participated in the Mille Miglia Storica 15 times between 1984 and 2013 and was completely restored and certified by the Ferrari Classiche Department. Matching numbers, and fully documented by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini.

47 – 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Cabriolet by Figoni et Falaschi

US$7,150,000
November, 2013
New York City, New York, U.S.

Auctioned by RM/Sothebys

More Art Deco mechanical artistry from French coachbuilders Figoni et Falaschi, though this car has the rare distinction of being the first Teardrop Cabriolet and the only short-wheelbase example with original chassis, engine, and body.

49 – 1959 Ferrari 250 GT SWB "Competition" Berlinetta Speciale

US$7,040,000
November, 2013
New York, U.S.

Auctioned by RM/Sothebys

In Ferrari’s early days, many different coachbuilders constructed bodies on the company’s chassis. Countless beautiful and vastly different motor cars were produced in this period, with each different to the next, to a greater or lesser degree. Wealthy owners would specify precisely what they wanted during personal trips to the factory, frequently in direct conversation with Enzo Ferrari himself. It was not unlike having a bespoke suit constructed by a fine Italian tailor: one’s personality, style, and preferences were all clearly visible in the finished product, as was the craftsmanship of the coachbuilder who brought the design to life.

Pinin Farina would eventually gain Enzo Ferrari’s favour as a preferred design house and by the time of the 250 GT SWB, Pininfarina bodies had become the norm for Ferrari. Although there were detail differences from car to car, the 250 GT SWB had fundamentally become a standardized design.

There was still a demand for custom coachwork though, and six 250 GT SWB chassis were built with custom bodies – four by Pininfarina and two by Carrozzeria Bertone. This car (chassis 1739GT) is the first Bertone-bodied car and was once described by Auto d’Epoca magazine as “arguably the most spectacular and important of coach built Ferraris—combines classic Ferrari elements of sensuous form with a racing soul.”

At Bertone, this chassis was graced with a one-off body that was designed by an individual who would become a hugely influential automotive designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro. At just 21-years-old, Giugiaro gave 1739GT a variety of unique exterior and interior options that would further distinguish it from other SWB models that were produced at the time.

Regardless of his youth, it was evident that Giugiaro had an eye for design, and the public’s stunned reaction at the first glimpse of the car at the 1960 Geneva Salon clearly helped improve his stature in the industry. Giugiaro would go on to work at Ghia before founding his own firm, Italdesign Giugiaro, where he is credited with designing many notable sports cars, including the Iso Grifo, the BMW M1, and both the Maserati Ghibli and the Bora.

As with all cars of one-off coachwork, 1739GT enjoys fascinating provenance and was commissioned by Dottore Enrico Wax, one of the wealthiest men in Italy, and a personal friend of Enzo Ferrari.

The story behind the commissioning of 1739GT came from former Ferrari Vice President Amerigo Manicardi, who related that Wax had expressed interest in a speciale during a meeting with Enzo at the factory, if he would allow him one of the first short-wheelbase chassis that were then under construction. Both men walked to the Competition Department, where Enzo pointed to the first chassis in a line of just three. Enzo said that even though this specific chassis was earmarked as a Works team car, it would instead be immediately assigned to Wax’s account.

According to Ferrari historian Stan Nowak, this is “possibly the one Ferrari that possesses all the criteria to contend for Best in Show at any major international concours, including Pebble Beach—one-off coachwork, influential design, debut at international salon, commissioned by prominent personality, built on special chassis, abundant brightwork, impeccable history.”

50 – 1964 Ferrari 250 LM

US$7,014,433
(Sold for EUR 4,510,000)
May, 2008
Maranello,Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Auctioned by RM/Sothebys

An almost identical car to the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM which sold for US$14,300,000 in New York in November, 2013, and another sold for US$11,550,000 at Pebble Beach this year, so this car's price is more a reflection on how long ago it sold than its value today.

Though Enzo Ferrari tried hard in 1964 to convince the FIA that the new 250 LM was indeed just a variant of the 250 GTO which it replaced, and hence did not need to have 100 units produced for homologation purposes, no-one accepted the proposal. Even the car's name, which by all other Ferrari nomenclature rules should have been the 275 LM, is part of Ferrari's ruse.

As a result, the FIA refused the 250 LM homologation status and the cars were required to run in the much more competitive prototype classes. Nonetheless, their record is exceptional. In total, the 1964 cars would enter more than 50 races, winning more than a dozen of them outright – along with many other podium finishes. Notable examples included races at Snetterton, the Coppa Intereuropa, the Kyalami GP, and Elkhart Lake. Drivers notching victories in the LM included Roy Salvadori, Nino Vaccarelli, Willy Mairesse, and David Piper.

Only 32 of the 320 hp V-12 250 LMs were built, and the 250 LM will almost certainly go the same way as the GTO with ever appreciating value.

51 – 1964 Ford GT40 Prototype

US$7,000,000
April, 2014
Houston, Texas, U.S.

Auctioned by Mecum

One of the pioneering prototypes of the now-legendary GT40 juggernaut and one of the few that remains today, GT/104 is one of only two famously prepared and raced by Shelby American for the 1965 season.

One of the first race cars of any kind to benefit from computerised aerodynamic computation and the budding field of telemetry, it was crucial to the development of the GT40 into World Championship form, proving the project’s potential at Le Mans, reaching the podium at Daytona and participating in Ford’s first year in international competition. Its development involved such famous names as Lunn, Wyer and Shelby; it was driven by the top stars of the era at the world’s most famous venues.

As the first ever 1965 Shelby American-specification GT40, chassis GT/104 is widely regarded as the most original and correct prototype Shelby American team car and possesses what Ronnie Spain has described as "one of the clearest provenances… of all GT40s."

52 – 1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype

US$6,930,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Ford's GT40 dominated endurance racing in the mid sixties, but it was also considered as a roadster for public sale. This car is the first of six GT40 prototype roadsters built, the eighth of only 12 GT40 prototypes and the only roadster to remain in as-built condition. It was driven by Ken Miles, Carroll Shelby, Jim Clark, and other legends (see historic images on the official auction page).

Ronnie Spain, GT40 historian and author of GT 40: An Individual History and Race Record wrote: "GT/108 is one of the finest, and certainly rarest, examples of the Ford GT40 in existence. Its rarity value is stamped all over its history."

53 – 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Speciale Aerodynamica

US$ 6,875,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Bonhams

Ferrari’s collaboration with Pininfarina on the Superfast theme created a new streamlined 250 GT car which was shown at the the 1960 Turin Salone dell'Automobile. The highly aerodynamic shape offered not just superb aerodynamics but an elegant new form factor. At the Geneva Salon of 1962 a Superfast III revision of the innovative, aerodynamic, high-performance limousine was unveiled, offering a more open 'greenhouse' cabin window treatment. A Superfast IV followed, but the design of Pininfarina's peerless 'Coupe Aerodinamica' would also be applied to only four, we believe, 250 GT Berlinettas with shorter 2.40-metre wheelbase – the Passo Corto or 250 GT SWB chassis length - of which this fine example is one. And it is from the Coupe Aerodinamica theme that the so-called GTO Prototype car was produced to compete at Le Mans in 1961, leading ultimately to the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO itself.

54 – 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet

US$ 6,820,000
August, 2014, Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Bonhams

This Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet S1 Pinin Farina is a very early example, being only the eighth of some 40 units built overall. Its chassis was delivered to the Pinin Farina plant on September 9, 1957, and upon its completion with this strikingly handsome body it was exhibited at the 39th Salone dell'Automobile in Turin from October 30-November 10 that year. After a well-documented life in South America, the 250 GT was acquired by Italian enthusiast Fabrizio Violati and inducted into his Collezione Maranello Rosso in San Marino.

55 – 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza

US$6,710,000
August, 2010
Pebble Beach, California, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co [image:279411]

55 – 1956 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta 'Tour de France'

The third most valuable movie car ever sold at auction

US$6,710,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

This 1956 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta is unofficially known as the “Tour de France” model thanks to it winning the 1956 running of the legendary French (now defunct) public roads sports car race.

Ferrari had shown its new series-production 250 GT at the Geneva Motor Show of 1956. While the coupe on display featured an elegant body that would go on to be produced in quantity by Boano, thus providing necessary homologation, the underlying chassis proved to be the basis for the competition car, or berlinetta, that Ferrari sought to enter into the FIA’s new GT racing classifications.

Pininfarina designed a new lightweight body that was built by Scaglietti, using thin-gauge aluminium and Perspex windows and a minimally upholstered cabin. The finished car, then known officially as the 250 GT Berlinetta, was ultimately made in a sparing quantity of 77 examples that are further sub-divided by subtle differences in coachwork over the model’s four-year production run.

The Berlinetta was immediately successful, when Olivier Gendebien and Jacques Washer co-drove the very first car to a First in Class and Fourth Overall at the Giro di Sicilia in April 1956, with fifth Overall (and first in class) at the Mille Miglia later that month.

The model’s defining success occurred in September, when Marquis Alfonso de Portago, a Spanish aristocrat and privateer racer, drove one to a dominating victory in the 1956 Tour de France Automobile, a result that sealed the model’s reputation. The 1956 Tour de France Automobile covered 3,600 miles over a week which included six different circuit races, two hill climbs, and a drag race. Enzo Ferrari was so pleased with the outcome that the 250 GT Berlinetta was subsequently and internally, though never officially, referred to as the Tour de France.

The Berlinetta wore the name well, also winning the 1957, 1958, and 1959 installments of the French race in the hands of Olivier Gendebien, as well as a Third Overall at the 1957 Mille Miglia.

This particular unit is the very first example constructed of the second series design that featured 14-louver sail-panels, and was initially purchased by Southern California building construction magnate Tony Parravano who found that the American sanctioning body did not recognize it as a production car. The car subsequently changed hands before eventually being purchased by Walt Disney Studios for use in the 1966 film The Love Bug, the celebrated Disney classic about “Herbie,” the racing VW Beetle with a soul. Carandmotors has some images of the Berlinetta during its cinematic career.

The Ferrari subsequently fell on hard times, and quite remarkably for a car now in the 100 most valuable in the world, was reportedly abandoned on the Hollywood Freeway at one stage during the seventies. Redemption eventually came, and the story can be read in great detail on the official RM Auctions page.

57 – 1939 Delahaye 135 Competition Court Torpedo Roadster

US$6,600,000
March, 2014
Amelia Island,Florida, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Delahaye built just 30 cars using the Competition Court chassis and only two short wheelbase variants are known to have survived to this day – this car is one of them.

It’s pedigree is far grander however, as it wears a body tag verifying the involvement of famous stylist and illustrator Georges Hamel (Geo Ham) in its styling.

The design for the Torpedo Roadster that clothes the chassis is based on the famed 1936 Paris Auto Show car, traditionally recognized as a collaboration between Figoni and the illustrator. The body was subsequently built by Figoni’s equally famous Carrosier, Figoni & Falaschi and hence we have a gorgeous motor car sitting atop a competition chassis and engine – a street version of the purely competition Type 135 S.

57 – 1957 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Prototype Spider

US$6,600,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

This car carries some extraordinary history. It is the original Ferrari 250 GT California Spider prototype, a car which launched one of the most iconic series of sports cars in history.

As the prototype California Spider, it has many unique one-off features that never carried over into any of the production models, but it was nonetheless, the car which appeared in the brochures and publicity of the soon-to-be-released California in early 1958.

59 – 1957 Ferrari 625 TRC Spider

US$6,511,207
(Sold for EUR 5,040,000)
May, 2012
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Auctioned by RM Auctions

One of only two factory-built 625 TRCs ever built, this 1957 Ferrari 625 TRC Spider was sold with a fully documented provenance by RM Auctions in Monaco in May, 2012 for EUR 5,040,000 (US$6,511,207). It was purchased new by famed racing driver and pioneering American Ferrari importer, John von Neumann and has been successful in both period and vintage racing history, with a history including such luminaries as Richie Ginther.

60 – 1931 Bugatti Royale Berline de Voyager

US$6,500,000
June, 1986
Reno, Nevada, U.S.

Auctioned by Kruse International (purchased by RM Auctions in 2010)

The Bugatti Type 41 was one of the most luxurious and immense cars ever produced. Designed by Jean Bugatti, only a handful (different sources claim 6, 7 and 8 in total) were produced. The second Bugatti Royale in the list belonged to Bill Harrah – the owner of a 1,400 strong car collection. It was sold in 1986 in Reno, USA during an event called "Evening Royale."

61 – 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet

US$6,473,454
(Sold for EUR 4,704,000)
May, 2014
Monte Carlo,Monaco

Auctioned by RM Auctions

62 – 1955 Ferrari 857 Sport

US$6,270,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co [image:281007]

This 1955 Ferrari 857 Sport is one of four 857 Sports produced and as the price suggests, it ticks all the boxes. It is a matching-numbers, original-bodied (with one-off Scaglietti coachwork) factory racing Ferrari with a distinguished race history that includes being driven by Carroll Shelby, Jack McAfee, Olivier Gendebien, Richie Ginther and Masten Gregory.

An extremely significant Ferrari, it is fully documented by Ferrari Historian Marcel Massini and sold at Pebble Beach in 2012 by Gooding & Co for US$6,270,000.

63 – 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet

US$6,380,000
March, 2015
Amelia Isand, U.S.

Auctioned by RM/Sothebys

This Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet sold at the RM/Sothebys auction during the Amelia Island Concours celebrations on March 14, 2015, fetching $6,380,000 to comfortably set a new world record for the model at auction. The car had just undergone a no-expense-spared restoration by marque experts.

64 – 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1

US$6,160,000
January, 2014
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

65 – 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB Competizione SEFAC Hot Rod

US$6,105,000
August, 2010
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

This Ferrari Classiche-certified, matching-numbers 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB Competizione SEFAC Hot Rod underwent a two-year restoration at the Ferrari factory prior to selling for US$6,105,000 at Pebble Beach in 2010. One of only 20 SEFAC Hot Rods built, it was raced by Trintignant, Hill, Bonnier and Gendebien.

66 – 1928 Bentley 4 Litre Le Mans Sports 'Bobtail'

US$6,050,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

Of all the legendary drivers and machines to compete at the world’s premiere endurance event, there is no legacy greater than that of the Bentley Boys and their five outright Le Mans victories. The small number of works team cars that remain, such as this 11928 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Vanden Plas Le Mans Sports "Bobtail," are the most sought-after of all Bentleys in existence.

This car, YW 2557, is one of the few purpose-built 4 1/2 Litre Le Mans team cars and the only remaining example in Bobtail form. It was completed in 1928 for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which ended up being a victorious race for the marque. In 1929, this team car competed in the inaugural Double Twelve race at Brooklands, placing second overall against an Alfa-Romeo with a generous handicap. Primed for success, the Bentley Boys continued their winning campaign at Le Mans later that year, where they gloriously crossed the finish line 1, 2, 3 and 4. This Bobtail placed third overall with J. Dudley Benjafield and Baron Andre d’Erlanger at the wheel, resulting in the car’s second podium position out of three 24-hour events in its racing career.

In keeping with its originality, the Bobtail was restored to its 1929 Le Mans specification in recent years, and therefore remains as one of the purest and most important Bentleys in the world.

67 – 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider

US$5,907,325
(Sold for EUR 4,507,104)
February, 2012
Paris, France

Auctioned by Artcurial

The California Spider is one of the rarest and most sought after Ferraris in the world. We have documented more than a dozen such Spiders while curating this list, but this one probably has the most storied existence. Apart from full history and matching numbers and covered headlights, it was owned and driven across the South of France by one of the world's most famous playboys, noted screenwriter, film director/producer, author and actor Roger Vadim.

Vadim was married five times (his wives included Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda) but was known for his extracurricular and high profile romances. Urbandaddy has some pics of Vadim with this Ferrari and budding 17-year-old actress Catherine Deneuve, who also went on to become one of the greats of the silver screen.

In a country where philandering is regarded as a high art form, it's not surprising that this car was sold not by one of the recognized automotive auctioneers but by one of the world's leading art auction houses, Artcurial.

68 – 1972 Porsche 917/10

US$5,830,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Mecum

The instantly recognizable L&M-sponsored; Team Penske Porsche 917 which dominated the 1972 Can-Am series with its 5.4L Twin Turbo 12 cylinder engine and one of the most frightening power-to-weight ratios ever assembled between four wheels - capable of over 1150 horsepower, and running 0-100 mph in 2.9 seconds. This car was driven by racing legends Mark Donohue and George Follmer, it reappeared in 1973 wearing Rinzier RC Cola livery and placed second in the series.

A true icon for automotive racing history directly related to the car which gave Porsche its first Le Mans win and World Sportscar Championship.

69 – 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta Competizione

US$5,721,697
(Sold for EUR4,235,000)
May, 2007
Maranello, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Auctioned by RM/Sothebys

A sister car to the world's fastest road car which sits ninth on this listing, this 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta Competizione sold for EUR4,235,000 (US$5,721,697) in 2007 and would fetch much more in today's climate.

The ex-factory Ferrari was driven by the likes of Paul and Giannino Marzotto, Umberto Maglioli, Piero Carini, Luigi Vileresi, Nino Flour and Mike Hawthorn, and finished fifth at Le Mans, before winning the 24 Hours of Spa. The official auction page has an extensive history of the car.

70 – 1930 Bentley Speed Six Tourer

US$5,658,536
(Sold for EUR4,188,250)
July, 2004
Le Mans,Sarthe, France

Auctioned by Christie's

A very significant racing Bentley with some of the greatest Bentley Boy names in its provenance. This is the Works No. 2 Bentley Speed Six Tourer from 1930.

This magnificent car came second in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1930 when piloted by Clement and Watney, and was also winner of the ‘Double Twelve’, the equivalent British Endurance race. That's it crossing the line at Le Mans in 1-2 formation below.

Since this sale a decade ago, the car has regularly appeared around the continent, delighting crowds wherever it goes.

71 – 1966 Ferrari 330 P3

US$5,616,000
August, 2000
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Christie's

Motor racing's golden era between the years of 1964 and 1971 was the era of the no-holds barred big displacement sports-prototypes in World Championship sports car racing for the Manufacturers' Championship.

It was the time of such legendary race cars as the Ford GT40, the Lola T70, the Ferrari 512S and M, the Porsche 917 and, perhaps the greatest of all, the Ferrari "P" (for "prototipo") series.

This Ferrari 330 P3 is one of only three factory prototypes built. It runs a 3,967 cc V12, (with double overhead camshafts on each bank and twin spark plug per cylinder), and produces 420 bhp at 8,200 rpm.

This car was driven by the likes of Jean Guichet, John Surtees, Bob Bondurant, Pedro Rodriguez, Mike Parkes, Lodovico Scarfiotti, Lorenzo Bandini, and Giancarlo Baghetti in its day and has a long and fascinating history since its days battling the GT40.

It recorded wins in the 1000kms races at Monza and Spa along with its third place finish in the famous Daytona 1967 Ferrari 1-2-3 triumph.

An extensive history of the car is on the official Christie's Auction Page.

72 – 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Series I Cabriolet

US$5,610,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

The Last of Only 40 Examples built, this 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Series I Cabriolet with coachwork by Pinin Farina sold for US$5,610,000 at Pebble Beach 2014 by Gooding & Co. Photo: Brian Henniker

72 – 1958 Ferrari 412S

US$5,610,000
August, 2006
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

The most expensive car to change hands during the Monterey Classic Car Weekend (Pebble Beach) in 2006, this 1958 Ferrari 412S (chassis number “0744”) with coachwork originally by Scaglietti is one of, if not the greatest, sports racing Ferraris ever built. This historically significant car represents one of the only examples Ferrari built specifically to challenge American racers on the North American SCCA circuit.

Throughout its life and different owners, the 412 S was continually raced by a who’s who of famed drivers such as Phil Hill, Richie Ginther, Skip Hudson, Fred Knoop and Steve Earle, who used it to promote the first Monterey Historic Races in 1973. Hill described the sound of the car's twelve-cylinder engine as "the most delicious sound of any vintage Ferrari."

Capable of 440 horsepower from its Vittorio Bellantani-designed four-cam, twelve-cylinder engine, it was the most powerful engine offered by Ferrari at the time. The engine installed by the Ferrari Factory in the 412 S was originally used in the De Portago 335 S racer that had been constructed for use in the 1957 Mille Miglia race. Following the race, the engine was returned to the factory where it was further improved and essentially hot rodded for use in the single seat racecar entered in the "Race of Two Worlds." At the Monza Indianapolis Race of Two Worlds, Luigi Musso qualified for the pole, pushing the car to speeds in excess of 174 mph on one of the world’s fastest tracks.

Following the race and at the request of its first privateer owner, John Von Neumann, the special engine was mated to a new sports racing chassis which had just finished competing as a Ferrari factory team car. It was at this juncture that the nomenclature of the 412 S became widely known and designated as the 412 MI (Monza Indianapolis). Von Neumann campaigned the car until he sold it to J.B. Nethercutt in 1959. The 412 S has since changed several times and has competed in some of the world’s premier vintage racing events.

74 - 1955 Aston Martin DB3S

US$5,500,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Company

In 1951, Aston Martin unveiled the DB3, designed by Professor Eberan-Eberhorst, the Austrian engineer who helped develop the Auto Union Grand Prix cars of the 1930s. Frank Feeley penned the DB3’s open bodywork, and the twin-cam engine was derived from the Lagonda LB6 by Willie Watson, under the direction of W.O. Bentley. The subsequent DB3s was a smaller, lighter, and faster version with an all-new chassis design, a David Brown-built final drive, numerous weight-saving measures, and curvaceous bodywork, distinguished by cutaway front wings and dramatically peaked fenders.

When Aston Martin finally retired the DB3s, it had served as a frontline sports racing car for four seasons, during which the factory team won 15 of the 35 races entered – a superb record considering that it was often pitted against much larger cars from Ferrari, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz. Not only was the DB3s a success in competition, it was also revered by its drivers who found the Aston Martin to be a particularly enjoyable and well-balanced machine.

In total, Aston Martin built just 36 DB3s chassis, 16 of which were retained for the Works team. Building on the success of the Works cars, Aston Martin constructed 20 production DB3s chassis. Except for a few coupes, the customer cars were similarly equipped, finished in Feeley’s gorgeous second-series body style and sold to private customers beginning in May 1955.

This Aston Martin DB3s, was constructed at the factory race shop and debuted on the Aston Martin stand at the 1955 Earls Court Motor show.

74 – 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake

US$5,500,000
January, 2007
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by Barrett-Jackson

Sold in 2007 for US$5,500,000, Carroll Shelby’s personal 800 horsepower Super SnakeCobra crossed the auction block again on January 17, 2015, selling for US$5,115,000.

The car is defined by its unique combination of ownership history, specification, performance and sheer rarity. Called the Super Snake, CSX3015 boasts two Paxton superchargers feeding a 427 side-oiler big block Ford.

Just shy of fifty years ago, this 800 horsepower Super Snake would run from 0-60 in around 3.2 seconds, a time only a handful of modern supercars can achieve with the aid of traction control, fuel injection and other electronic aids.

For the non-enthusiast, this car became a mainstream celebrity when Shelby built one for his friend, celebrity comedian Bill Cosby. Though the car differed slightly, Cosby’s Cobra shared the same twin supercharged power train. Bill Cosby only drove his car one time. So terrified by the Super Snake’s angry demeanor, Cosby returned it to Shelby American. He then used the harrowing experience to create a legendary comedy routine called 200 MPH.

This one-of-a-kind, fully documented 190 mph Cobra owned by Carroll Shelby himself was already a top 100 car before its second sale, and is listed here under its original (higher) auction price.

76 – 1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail

US$5,280,000
January, 2014
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

The most successful 1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail (021R), with wins at Hockenheim and Helsinki, and two other podium finishes in its FIA GT Championship Rraces. This car was campaigned by the Works BMW Motorsport Team and raced by J.J. Lehto and Steve Soper.

The car sold in its factory-delivered form with FINA livery at Scottsdale in 2014 after having been restored by McLaren and maintained by marque specialist, Lanzante Ltd.

76 – 1960 Ferrari 250 SWB Berlinetta Competizione

US$5,280,000
August, 2011
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

The Ferrari SWB Berlinetta’s competition success is extensive, including GT category wins at Le Mans and every other FIA-sanctioned major European and American venue in 1960 and 1961, Tour de France wins in 1960, 1961 and 1962 and Stirling Moss’s Tourist Trophy wins at the wheel of Rob Walker’s SWB in 1960 and 1961.

In reality, the Scaglietti-built SWB is Ferrari’s last true dual purpose GT – a car that was driven by its owner to the circuit, had its luggage removed and race numbers applied and was then raced and collected trophies before the girlfriend and bags were re-installed and driven back home. Bellisimo!

78 – 1939 Horch 853A Special Roadster

US$5,170,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

You may not recognize the name Horch, but you only need to take one look at the gallery of this 1939 Horch 853A Special Roadster to comprehend the quality and style of the brand, and why someone would pay US$5,170,000 for such a vehicle. August Horch was a production manager for Karl Benz who left and started his own automobile brand in 1899. He later got pushed out of his own company and started another brand. As the name Horch (meaning "listen" in German) was already taken by his original brand, he used the latin equivalent - Audi. You'll see some of those familiar rings on this Horch. Fortuitously, the companies amalgamated in 1932, along with DKW, Wanderer and Auto Union to form the company we now know as Audi.

79 – 1962 Ferrari 250 SWB California Spider

US$5,115,000
August, 2009
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

Another Ferrari 250 California Spider just like a dozen others in the top 100 most expensive cars ever to have sold at auction. Covered headlights, Ferrari Classiche Certified, matching numbers, recent Paul Russell & Co restoration and rare factory hardtop.

This 1962 Ferrari 250 SWB California Spider has multiple concours wins to its credit, including a Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Award, a Cavallino Classic Coppa per Dodici Cilindri (best 12 cylinder at the Cavallino Classic) and two FCA Platinum Awards, which makes it more special than just special.

80 – 1927 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/180 Sportwagen

US$5,040,000
Pebble Beach, U.S.

August, 2011
Auctioned by Gooding & Co

This extremely rare 1927 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/180 Sportwagen with coachwork by Sindelfingen is one of just five still known to exist. With a chassis designed by Dr Ferdinand Porsche and a massive supercharged 6.8 liter 6-cylinder engine producing 180 BHP with the blower engaged, the model enjoyed great racing success in Europe but this particular car was never raced. After an extensive restoration, the car was a class winner at Pebble Beach in 2004.

81 – 1955 Jaguar D-Type

US$4,996,248
(Sold for EUR3,360,000)
February, 2014
Paris, France

Auctioned by RM Auctions

The seventh customer Jaguar D-Type produced, this highly original example was delivered new to Australia where it was campaigned by four-time Australian Drivers' Champion Bib Stillwell and subsequently owned by 1970 Le Mans winner Richard Attwood.

82 – 1960 Jaguar E2A

US$4,957,000
August, 2008
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Bonhams

By 1960 Jaguar had won the Le Mans 24-Hours, no fewer than five times; twice with its original competition-tailored C-Type and three times with the tail-finned D-Type. Sir William Lyons then decreed it was time to translate this sporting pedigree into a production car with an all-new semi-monocoque chassis. This new car would emerge in 1961 as the now legendary Jaguar E-Type.

One prototype was produced. This car is the "missing link" between the D-Type and E-Type, the E2A, a powerful fuel-injected 3-liter sports-racing two-seater.

This unique and celebrated prototype Jaguar E2A was driven by no fewer than four of the world’s greatest racing drivers, Dan Gurney, Sir Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and Walt Hansgen. https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/16133/lot/364/.

83 – 1960 Ferrari 250 SWB California Spider

US$4,950,000
January, 2009
Scottsdale, Arizona,U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

83 – 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Competizione Spider

US$4,950,000
August, 2007
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

This 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Competizione Spider finished fifth overall in the 1959 Le Mans 24 Hour Race, placing third in the GT class. It went on to race successfully in America and in other international events.

85 – 1939 Talbot-Lago T150C SS Teardrop coupe

US$4,847,000
August, 2008
Pebble Beach, California, U.S.

Auctioned by Bonhams

There were four Talbot-Lago T150 C SSs with Pourtout Aerocoupé bodies made. Two are in private collections and there are shadowy rumors of another in pieces, although no one has seen so much as a picture. The last is offered here, and is the perfect storm of exceptional provenance.

Begun as war clouds gathered in 1939, it was not seen complete until the conflagration was over. It was built to plans drawn by a legendary designer, and assembled by one of France’s premier coachbuilders. After the war, the Talbot was owned by a wealthy gentleman driver who drove it to many victories on the road courses of France. It was sold in original condition, showing the makeshift field modifications that racing sometimes demands.

86 – 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione

US$4,840,000
August, 2013
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

This car is one of the rarest and most important post-war Alfa Romeos known. It is one of only two factory-made sports cars developed for the 1948 racing season, and successfully campaigned by legendary driver Franco Rol for four seasons, participating in the Mille Miglia on four consecutive occasions, Targa Florio three times and other important Italian events including Pescara and Coppa D’Oro delle Dolomiti.

Decades later, the 6C 2500 was unearthed in France as part of Michel Dovaz’s "Sleeping Beauties" collection. This remarkable, superbly-restored and authentic alloy-bodied Alfa Romeo is equipped with a twin-cam six cylinder engine, triple Weber dual-throat carburettors and a dry sump oil system.

This 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione is one of the rarest and most important post-war Alfa Romeos known. It is one of only two factory-made sports cars developed for the 1948 racing season, and successfully campaigned by legendary driver Franco Rol for four seasons, participating in the Mille Miglia on four consecutive occasions, Targa Florio three times and other important Italian events including Pescara and Coppa D’Oro delle Dolomiti.

87 – 1956 Maserati 450S Prototype by Fantuzzi

US$4,816,558
(Sold for EUR3,500,000)
May, 2014
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Auctioned by RM Auctions

This car, dubbed the "bazooka" by Juan Manuel Fangio and also driven by Sterling Moss, is the prototype of the legendary 450S Maserati. A remarkable history.It sold for EUR 3,500,000 (US$4,816,558) at RM Auctions Monte Carlo auction in 2014.

88 – 1952 Jaguar C-Type

US$4,769,837
(Sold for £2,913,500)
December, 2013
London, U.K.

Auctioned by Bonhams

For many connoisseurs the discretely beautiful lines of the early-1950s Jaguar C-Type sports-racing car define the period. The original works-entered C-Type Jaguars won the Le Mans 24-Hour race in 1951, and the thin-gauge bodied, Weber-carbureted "Lightweight" C-Type works cars of 1953 won again.

Some 54 C-Types were manufactured in all, the majority of course for customer sale, leaving the model more rare than examples of the replacement D-Type family. The 1952 C-Type offered here was raced by the Ecurie Ecosse racing team and campaigned throughout 1953.

Raced by Jimmy Stewart (older brother of three-times World Champ Jackie), Ninian Sanderson, Jock Lawrence, Sir James Scott-Douglas and Frank Curtis, the entire history of the car can be read at the official Bonhams auction page.

89 – 1955 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta

US$4,757,424
(Sold for EUR 3,136,000)
May, 2011
Tivoli, Lazio,Italy

Auctioned by RM Auctions

This car’s first public outing was on the Ferrari stand at the Turin Motor Show from April 21 to May 1, 1955. It is the last of the 24 375 MM built, and one of only ten 375 MM Berlinettas, featuring a one-off Pinin Farina body that foreshadows the subsequent Tour de France model in many ways.

Unlike many of its sister cars, this brutally fast 340 hp V-12 engined Berlinetta has never been raced. It was fully restored in 2004 by Wayne Obry’s Motion Products of Wisconsin, shown at the most exclusive events (Pebble Beach, The Quail, Cavallino Classic, Villa d’Este) and has been a class winner at Pebble Beach in 2004 and the Cavallino Classic in 2005. It is fully documented by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini.

The car was sold for EUR 3,136,000 (US$4,757,424) in May, 2011 by RM Auctions.

90 – 1953 Ferrari 340 MM Spider

US$4,730,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.


Auctioned by Gooding & Co

The 340 MM was the ultimate variant of the 340 series, which began in 1950 with the 340 America. A rare Ferrari indeed, Sherman Wolf’s 0350 AM is the last of ten 340 MMs as well as the last of five 340 MM Spiders bodied by Vignale.

This car was sold new, in a two-tone American racing scheme, to Sterling Edwards, a famous California sportsman and chairman of the Pebble Beach Road Races Committee. After picking up the car in Italy while on his honeymoon, Edwards returned to the US and raced it throughout 1953 and 1954, winning at Pebble Beach, Palm Springs, Stead AFB and Seafair.

In 1955, Los Angeles race car driver Tom Bamford purchased the 340 MM, which he drove in local races through 1955.

Sherman Wolf gained ownership of the Ferrari in 1984 and enjoyed taking it on long-distance tours, including the Mille Miglia Storica and Colorado Grand.

91 – 1931 Bentley 4.0 Litre Supercharged Le Mans

US$4,647,500
August, 2013
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Bonhams

Representing the epitome of 1930s "Boys Own" motoring, this fabulous original Bentley Blower embodies every ounce of the Bentley, Birkin, Barnato and Le Mans spirit and does so, because it was built that way.

In the words of recognized marque historian Dr. Clare Hay, this car (MS 3944) is a "rarity among rarities", being one of only three of the 50 production supercharged Bentleys recorded by the factory as having a Le Mans chassis on their build sheets.

There's a full, ripping yarn on the official Bonhams' auction page.

92 – 1956 Maserati 250F

US$4,620,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

This remarkable Maserati was triumphant in its inaugural outing in the hands of Stirling Moss in the 1956 Italian Grand Prix at Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Moss beat Juan Manuel Fangio (Lancia-Ferrari) by 5.7 seconds to take the win, but Fangio won his fourth drivers' title through his second place.

As documented by included paperwork from the Maserati archives, on November 16, 1956, the car was then sold to American racing team owner Tony Parravano and subsequently became part of the collection owned by Sir Anthony Bamford, then ownership moved through a who’s who of Italian competition machinery aficionados. This car has been in good hands since the very beginnings of its life and has been lavished with the utmost care throughout. It will likely become one of the top 100 most valuable cars ever sold at auction during this sale.

92 – 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Alloy

US$4,620,000
August, 2014
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

Almost all of the cars on this list have a history as interesting as the car itself. This one is no exception. In order to get to the detailed notes on each car inside Gooding & Co, you need to register, but it's more than worth the effort.

This car's first owner, was Haitian diplomat Albert Silvera, one of the wealthiest and most influential people in Haiti. Silvera was Haiti’s ambassador-at-large for as long as anyone could remember. No matter who was in power since the 1940s, Silvera used his wealth to charm his way into their circle.

A glamorous, old-world gentleman, Silvera maintained residences in Port-au- Prince, Paris, and Miami. He was almost never seen without his signature white linen suit and a cigarette in hand. In 1950, Silvera turned his private estate in Pétionville into the glamorous El Rancho Hotel, a popular jet-set destination frequented by celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger, and André Malraux.

Over the years, Silvera owned a variety of beautiful machines: Riva boats, top-of-the-line Rolls-Royce motorcars, and a seemingly endless succession of spectacular Italian sports cars, including Lamborghinis such as a Miura SVJ, an Espada, and three Countaches, plus a succession of Ferraris including an 250 SWB Berlinetta, a 275 GTB/4, two Berlinetta Boxers, and this alloy-bodied 275 GTB.

92 – 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta

The equal fourth most valuable movie car ever sold at auction

US$4,620,000
August, 2010
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

In 1956, this car was featured in the classic Italian film La Fortuna di Essere Donna starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni and set in Rome. The film was released in the United States under the titles Lucky To Be A Woman and What A Woman!

The fifth of only seven examples of a 340 hp V12 racing car built specifically for use in events such as the Mille Miglia (the MM in its name), it's price has almost nothing to do with its film appearance. This is a rare and valuable car in its own right. It was never raced and sold for US$4,620,000 with a fully documented history at Pebble Beach in 2010.

92 – 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

US$4,620,000
January, 2012
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Company

The rarest and most desirable of all 300 SL Mercedes-Benz, this car is the sixth of 29 aluminum-bodied 300 SL Gullwings built, it was sold with numerous competition-born features, Rudge wheels, belly pans and luggage, original matching numbers and had just had a major refurbishment by Rudi & Co.Numerous awards at concours events.

92 – The Batmobile (from 1966 TV Series)

The equal fourth most valuable movie car ever sold at auction

US$4,620,000
January, 2013
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by Barrett-Jackson [image:281369]

While the cars above it on this list may have sold for more money, the Batmobile is one of the most significant automobiles in the history of moving pictures and heavily influenced society's relationship with the automobile. It began a trend of using motor vehicles as stars or co-stars in television series, a trend which has since spawned a substantial industry and many television series and movies.

The car we know as the original Batmobile began life as a concept car: the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, created by Ford and the Lincoln Styling Department. The 19-foot long, two-seat, grand touring car prototype was hand-built in 1954 by Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, Italy, and unveiled with pearlescent Frost-Blue livery at the 1955 Chicago Auto Show.

The Futura's instruments were housed in the steering wheel, had a push-button transmission, exterior microphones to pick up and transmit the sounds of traffic to the occupants inside, and a host of the forward-thinking features and technologies which automakers traditionally deploy in concept cars to evaluate public reaction, and to promote the automaker's R&D prowess.

As we pointed out when writing up the forthcoming auction of this car, the use of external microphones to transmit ambient noise to the occupants is exactly the opposite of today where automakers go to great lengths to block out such sounds.

In 1959, sporting a fresh red paint job, the Futura was recycled into another feature film, It Started with a Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford. The Futura even appeared on the movie's poster.

George Barris then acquired the vehicle and kept it in his garage for several years. In late 1965, 20th Century Fox Television and William Dozier’s Greenway Productions contacted Barris and asked him to produce a car for the heroes to drive in an upcoming television series based on the super successful Batman comic book series. An extensive history of the Batmobile and this vehicle can be found on our article covering the most expensive movie & TV cars.

92 – 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster

US$4,620,000
August, 2011
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Mercedes-Benz’s success with the 500 K, aided by the continuing defaults of its sporting luxury competitors as the Great Depression worked its way through society, politics, royalty and finance, encouraged the introduction in 1936 of the 540 K.

Regarded by many, and respected by all, as the high point of the Classic Era’s great chassis, engine and coachwork combinations, the Mercedes-Benz 540 K reflected the restless pursuit of perfection by Mercedes-Benz engineers, technicians and craftsmen and by the coachbuilders of Sindelfingen.

92 – 1884 De Dion, Bouton et Trépardoux Dos-à-Dos Steam Runabout La Marquise

US$4,620,000
October, 2011
Hershey, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions page.

By far the most historically significant vehicle on this list, this is the oldest running motor car in the world, turning 130 years of age in October, 2014. It is Count Jules-Albert de Dion's prototype quadricycle of 1884, having been built the year before Karl Benz and Gottleib Daimler invented the internal combustion engine. Remarkably, it fetched only US$4,620,000 in 2011, and will no doubt be worth considerably more at some future point.

Dubbed "La Marquise," after the Count’s mother, this quadricycle drives the back wheels through connecting rods, the same principle as the Hilderbrand & Wolfmuller motorcycle.

This quadricycle is also the world's first family car, as it carried four passengers dos-a-dos and unlike its predecessors dating back to Cugnot’s tractor of 1770, it still works.

Writer David Burgess-Wise examined La Marquise closely for Automobile Quarterly in 1995. He pointed out that it is both De Dion’s prototype quadricycle and the oldest running real car in private hands, so its credentials are unmatched.

"The only older functioning vehicle is the 1875 Grenville," (basically a powered gun carriage), he said. "Amedee Bollee’s ‘L’Obesissant’ of 1872, now in the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers in Paris, was working in 1923 and presumably could be got working again, but the museum doesn’t normally run its exhibits. There’s the chassis of the 1830 Gurney Drag in the Glasgow Museum, and the 1854 Bordino steam coach in the Turn museum is apparently complete, but neither is likely to run again."

The vehicle has a very sophisticated boiler, at least for it's day, which can be steamed in 45 minutes. It is also compact at only nine feet long and relatively light at 2,100 pounds. But, it has four wheels, seats four, and can be driven by one person, like a modern car.

This vehicle won, indeed, was the only participant in the world's first motor race which was run from the Pont de Neuilly (Paris) to Versailles and back in 1887 (pictured above). The course of 32 km was covered in 1 hour and 14 minutes with De Dion and Bouton sharing the driving, meaning the world's first auto race was won at an average speed of 25.9 km/h, reportedly topping out at 60 km/h on the straights. The next year, De Dion again used La Marquise to beat Bouton on a three-wheeler, at an average of 28.9 km/h. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, the car's range is almost exactly the distance of that "race."

There's a video about this remarkable vehicle and you can read the full story is on the official RM Auctions page. The car was previously auctioned in 2007 by Gooding & Co at Pebble Beach in 2007, selling for US$3,520,000.

92 – 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C Lago Speciale Teardrop Coupe

US$4,620,000
August, 2010
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Beautiful and functional, this 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C Lago Speciale Teardrop Coupe not only features stunning streamlined Figoni et Falaschi coachwork, but also won its class in the 1948 24 Hours of Spa.

After taking control of Talbot in 1935, Anthony Lago renamed the French-based enterprise Talbot-Lago. He immediately hired an engineer named Walter Brecchia, and together they created the first Talbot-Lago, based on a Talbot-Darracq three-liter Type K78.

Brecchia’s next engine proved brilliant. Based on the six-cylinder K78 block, displacement grew to four liters, and a new cylinder head dramatically improved breathing and volumetric efficiency. The hemispherical-head design featured a valvetrain actuated by a low-set camshaft with crossed pushrods, acting through both long and short rocker arms. The engine developed 140 hp, and initially, it breathed through twin Solex carburetors.

A consummate salesman, Lago persuaded French racing great René Dreyfus to manage his new Talbot-Lago race team. Dreyfus delivered in June of 1936 at the French Grand Prix at Montlhéry, when Lago asked him to "stay ahead of the Bugattis for as long as you can." All three Talbot-Lagos finished in the top ten, running toe-to-toe with the Bugattis before mechanical problems slowed them near the end.

The next year, Talbot-Lagos placed first, second, third and fifth at the 1937 French Grand Prix. Victories continued with a win at Tourist Trophy races at Donnington Park and a first place in the 1938 Monte Carlo Rally. While the Talbot-Lago racing cars were outclassed by the omnipotent German Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union GP cars during the late 1930s, the Talbot-Lagos were uncannily reliable and often finished surprisingly well.

Lago’s greatest achievement remains without doubt the Talbot-Lago T150-C chassis, with the “C” standing for competition – a clear reference to the car’s racing success. Features such as a large capacity oil pan, punched handbrake lever, a dual braking system, and a higher compression ratio were taken directly from the racing program. Two versions were offered. The first, designated SS (taken from the English phrase "Super Sport") referred to a short-wheelbase chassis, designed for elegant two- or three-place coachwork.

A second, somewhat longer (2.95 m) chassis was also offered, called the "Lago Speciale." Mechanically identical to the SS, it was intended to accommodate more luxurious coachwork. In fact, the weight difference was just 130 kg, and the performance of the new four-liter engine was great enough that many owners raced their Lago Speciales as well. Both chassis offered exceptional handling, a result of the car’s independent front suspension with its advanced geometry, along with light weight and excellent brakes.

This car is the only long-wheelbase Lago Speciale Teardrop Coupe in existence.

100 – 1964 Aston Martin DB5

The sixth most valuable movie car ever sold at auction

US$4,595,998
(Sold for £2,912,000)
October, 2010
London, U.K.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

An original United Artists publicity photo for the 1964 feature film Goldfinger. Sean Connery is pictured with this Aston Martin DB5 which we wrote up at the time of the auction. One of the most expensive movie cars ever to have sold at auction.

When Ian Fleming created James Bond for his novel Casino Royale in 1953, he unwittingly set the imagination of a generation in motion. Bond was made famous by the film franchise (the longest continually running and second-highest grossing film series ever), and the almost–believable fictional super hero combined girls, guns and gadgets.

The car which set this price (US$4,620,000) is the original and most memorable of 007’s gadget-festooned automobiles, the Aston Martin DB5 which starred in the films Thunderball and Goldfinger, is to be sold at auction. It was possibly the most famous automobile in the world during the 1960s when Fleming’s books became box office hits, and the highly-modified 1964 model Aston Martin which was presented by gadgetmeister Q to Sean Connery (Bond) in the movie Goldfinger has an extraordinary tale to tell.

That tale is told in much more detail in our Top 25 Movie cars feature, complete with detailed images of the .30 calibre Browning machine guns behind the front indicators, retractable tyre slashers, a retractable rear bullet proof screen, a radio telephone concealed in the door, a radar scanner with a tracking screen in the cockpit, a passenger ejector seat, an oil slick and smoke screen generator and revolving number plates.

Cars recently deposed from the top 100 list

101 – 1931 Bentley 4 Litre "Blower"

US$4,510,000
8/19/07
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Company

Constructed as a 1931 supercharged model, this car was sent as a completed chassis to Gurney Nutting to receive its sports 2/3-seater boattail body. The coachwork was the second of three identical bodies built in the style of "Bentley Boy" Wolf Barnato’s personal "Blower" under the direction of Bentley Motors. The body style features a radical boattail shape around a two- seat configuration, with a third occasional seat in the center rear. In typical Bentley fashion, the coachwork consists of ash-wood framing covered in fabric for weight savings.

The car was further outfitted with a fold-flat screen and typical sporting long wings. Additionally enhancing the sleek appearance of the car was the standard blower shrouding. For 1931, it was a sensational design, and the weight savings no doubt played a role in the enhanced performance of the blown chassis. This car fetched the US$4,510,000 price which puts it on this list at Pebble Beach in 2007, but the Gooding & Co auction links below are to the reappearance of the car on the auction block at Pebble Beach in 2012 when it was expected to sell for between US$8,000,0000 and US$10,000,000 but failed to make reserve.

101 – 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB Berlinetta

US$4,510,000
August, 2008
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

101 – 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC

US$4,510,000
August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Company

Ferrari’s 500 TRC is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful Ferrari sports racing cars ever built. One of nineteen 500 TRC’s built, this 1957 example was delivered new to sports racing pioneer John von Neumann. Von Neumann raced it briefly before he sold the car to Dr. Frank Becker of Washington, who competed with the 500 TRC successfully throughout the US in the 1950s. Eventually the Ferrari was sold to Thor Thorson and then Sherman Wolf, who owned it for 20 years until sold at Pebble Beach in this auction. A Monterey Historics and Colorado Grand participant, this rare, matching-numbers vintage racer remains an exquisite example of one of Ferrari’s most celebrated race cars.

101 – 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Convertible

US$4,510,000
March, 2013, Amelia Island, Florida, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

Arguably the most beautiful convertible coupe on the Duesenberg chassis, production of this body style was handled by the A.H. Walker Body Company, of Indianapolis, one of several firms that produced bodies for Duesenberg under the pseudonym of "LaGrande."

With Duesenberg’s days waning and the Great Depression still largely at its zenith, Walker built only three examples of the Newport-designed convertible coupe, and this car was the only one with a factory-fitted centrifugal supercharger. The supercharger added 60 hp over the naturally-aspirated 420 ci (6,882 cc) DOHC inline eight-cylinder engine for a total 320 hp, and a top speed of 140 mph.

Shown at the 1998 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, it was honored with a First in Class, as well as the Gwenn Graham Award for Most Elegant Convertible. No mere pretty face, it has seen enthusiastic road use, including completing the highly regarded Duesenberg Tours in Wyoming and Texas.

105 – 1955 Maserati A6G/2000 Spider

US$4,455,000
November, 2013
New York, U.S.

Auctioned by RM/Sotheby's

A Maserati A6G/2000 in any body style is a rare and desirable automobile; it is a treasure that is always in demand from the world’s finest collectors. Clothed in one-off Zagato coachwork, this example is nothing short of breathtaking.

When this car was first displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in 1955, it caught the eye of Juan Perón, then President of Argentina, who asked that it be changed slightly and shipped to Argentina. Before the changes were complete, a coup resulted in Peron's exile and the car fell back into the hands of Carrozzeria Zagato.

105 – 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California

US$4,455,000
August, 2007
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co

105 – 1935 Duesenberg SJ Mormon Meteor

US$4,455,000
May, 2004
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Company

The "Mormon Meteor" is a purpose–built speed record attempt car built by Ab Jenkins in 1935 and based on a supercharged Duesenberg Model J rolling chassis. The engine was tuned by August Duesenberg and in raising sponsorship to finance the project,

Ab guaranteed his benefactors that he would break speed records with the car. He delivered on his promise in October the same year, when he set a one hour record of 153.97 mph (247.79 km/h) and a twenty-four hour record of 3,253 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 135.57 mph (218.18 km/h) at a circuit on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The 24-hour record would stand until 1961. Following this purchase at the 2004 Pebble Beach auction, the Mormon Meteor underwent a complete restoration which was finished in 2008. The picture above shows it in its restored glory.

108 – 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C SS Teardrop Coupé

US$4,440,262
(Sold for EUR3,136,000)
May, 2011
Tivoli, Lazio, Italy

Auctioned by RM Auctions

It's hard not to get carried away with the superlatives when writing of the art deco, four–wheeled sculptures of Paris-based automotive couturier Giuseppe Figoni. We wrote up this rare Talbot-Lago T23 Teardrop Coupe in 2012, and it fetched US$2,640,000, after the auction car in question, a 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C SS Teardrop Coupé, brought EUR 3,136,000 (US$4,475,072) just twelve months prior.

A triple award winner at Pebble Beach in 2009 and Best of Show at Meadow Brook in 2010, this 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C SS Teardrop Coupé is one of only eleven examples with "New York" Figoni coachwork. it is also fitted with a rare factory sunroof, it is built on the race-bred, short-wheelbase chassis.

109 – 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante

US$4,408,575
February, 2009
Paris, France

Auctioned by Bonhams

Originally the property of Francis Curzon, the 5th Earl Howe, the entire history of this 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante can be found on the "Automobiles d'Exception à Retromobile" auction page (English can be found at the bottom of the page).

110 – 1973 Porsche 917/30

US$4,400,000
March, 2012
Amelia Island, Florida, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Co.

This 1973 Porsche 917/30 is one of just six examples of history's most powerful road-racing car. It was so dominant that it has been called, "the car that killed CanAm racing." The 1973 Porsche 917/30 used a twin-turbo 5,374 cc DOHC 12-cylinder engine producing 1200 hp at 8000 rpm. It was sold by Gooding & Co. for US$4,400,000 at Amelia Island in 2012.

According to wikipedia, "the 917/30 could go from 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 1.9 seconds, 0-100 mph (160 km/h) in 3.9 seconds, 0-200 mph (320 km/h) in 10.9 seconds, and on to a top speed of more than 260 mph (420 km/h)."

A similar car to this crossed the auction block in Paris early in 2014, but was passed in at EUR2,000,000.

110 – 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Town Cabriolet

US$4,400,000
August, 2007
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

From the RM catalogue page: Considered the most beautiful formal town car of the period, this outstanding one-off creation was penned by Christian Bohman and Maurice Schwartz. Commissioned by Mars Candy Company heiress Ethel Mars, SJ553 is one of just 36 factory supercharged Duesenbergs, and one of the few to retain its original coachwork, drivetrain, and chassis. It remains a superlative example of the art of custom coachbuilding in America.

112 – 1928 Mercedes-Benz 36/220 6.8-litre S-Type

US$4,393,680
June, 2012
Goodwood, West Sussex, U.K.

Auctioned by Bonhams

Astonishingly, this 1928 Mercedes-Benz 36/220 6.8-litre S-Type remained in the same family from new until it was sold, in completely original condition – as the Bonham's catalogue entry described it, "a breathtakingly-original time-capsule car for the truly discerning connoisseur."

113 – 1950 GM Futurliner

US$4,320,000
January, 2006
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Auctioned by Barrett-Jackson

The General Motors Futurliner was originally made for the 1939 New York World's Fair, but following the fair, it was used as a travelling self-contained exhibit of futuristic technologies in GM's "Parade of Progress" where the Futurliners travelled small town America in convoy.

One of 12 built under the direction of GM designer Harley Earl, this 1950 Futurliner is one of just seven surviving, and one of just three in their original livery (one can be seen at the National Automotive & Truck Museum)

A symbol of the American auto industry at the height of its power and influence, this Futurliner sold for US$4,320,000 in January, 2006 and went under the hammer again at the same Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas event in January, 2015. The second time around, it sold for US$4,000,000 and drew another US$650,000 in pledges, with the full auction price and pldegs going to the Armed Forces Foundation.

114 – 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupe

US$4,290,000
March, 2011
Amelia Island, Florida, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

This 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico is one of three Ferrari works cars built specifically for the 1952 running of the infamous Carrera Panamericana.

The three Ferrari 340 Mexico cars built for the 3113-kilometre border-to-border Carrera Panamericana were lightweight, bare-bones adaptations of the four-liter V12 340 America with which Luigi Villoresi had won the 1951 Mille Miglia. This car finished third in the hands of Luigi Chinetti and Jean Lucas, just six minutes and 15 seconds behind the second-placed Mercedes-Benz 300 SL of Lang and Grupp.

115 – 1956 Jaguar D-Type "Shortnose"

US$4,241,491
December, 2013
London, U.K.

Auctioned by Bonhams

The Ex-Ron Flockhart, Ninian Sanderson, Jock Lawrence 1956 Jaguar D-Type 'Shortnose' Sports-Racing Two-Seater with many important wins, full paperwork and a spare engine in a lower state of tune for road use, was sold for GBP2,577,500 (US$4,241,491) at Bonhams' London December Sale in 2013.

116 – 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Castagna Drop Head Coupe

US$4,180,000
August, 2009
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Gooding & Company

117 – 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 K/540K Spezial Roadster

US$4,179,100
July, 2014, Stuttgart, Mercedes-Benz Museum, Germany

Auctioned by Bonhams

The sensation of the 1934 Berlin Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz's legendary 500K supercar was the creation of the gifted engineer and former racing driver Dr Hans Nibel. Designs upon which he had worked ranged from the 1909 200hp Blitzen Benz to the 1934 Mercedes-Benz W25, the first of the legendary 'Silver Arrow' racing cars, created after Dr Nibel had taken sole charge of engineering at the amalgamated Mercedes-Benz empire after the departure of Prof Dr Ferdinand Porsche at the end of 1928.

118 – 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Pinin Farina Cabriolet

US$4,072,500
August, 1999
Pebble Beach, U.S.

Auctioned by Christie's (no direct link to auction page). No image available

118 – 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider

US$4,070,000
August, 2013, Monterey, California, U.S.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

This 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider was sold with a complete and fascinating history by RM Auctions in August 2013 for US$4,070,000. Image: Pawel Litwinski and RM Auctions.

120 – 1997 McLaren F1

US$4,058,120
October, 2008
London, U.K.

Auctioned by RM Auctions

When a buyer paid £2,530,000 (US$4,058,120) for a 1997 McLaren F1 at RM Auctions' Automobiles of London sale in October, 2008, there were those who thought the price paid was one of those irrational prices which auctions regularly throw up, and there were those who thought it indicative that the modern day supercar had been recognized. The latter is now known to be true, and already that investment is proving to be spectacularly successful.

Some disclaimers

The prices contained on this list have been standardised in American dollars (USD). If a car sold elsewhere, we've converted the GBP, EUR or FRF to USD on that day and rounded it to the nearest dollar.

This listing is almost certainly inaccurate in some regard. We've been compiling it for months and even in the days immediately prior to publication, we're still weeding out minor inaccuracies. If we've missed something, or got it wrong in some way, please use the moderated comments to alert us, and we'll check it out, and fix it post haste. Our aim is accuracy so that we can keep our valued readers well informed.

View gallery - 1239 images
Show 5 comments

Recommended for you

Latest in Automotive

Editors Choice

See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning