Three cars moved into the top 100 most expensive cars ever sold at auction during the Scottsdale Auction week and a total of 41 cars sold for more than $1 million. This overview provides a complete listing of the major sales, prices, images and links to all the auction descriptions.
This year the week of Scottsdale sales saw US$292,800,000 change hands across all of the auctions, which Hagerty's Insurance calculates to be an 18 percent increase on any previous year. Clearly there's plenty of money in this marketplace.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Hagerty's analysis always makes for some interesting reflection, none more so than the company's research on the 2015 Scottsdale sales.
The figure of 2,532 of 2,939 lots sold equates to an 86 percent sell-through rate and is also a high, but as Hagerty's analysis puts it, "many unsold cars were bid to amounts that would have purchased them six months ago" and "the average high bid of unsold lots more than doubled from 2014."
Hagerty's take is that sellers are continuing to expect their cars to maintain stratospheric appreciation while the ever-more-educated buyers aren't quite as bullish. That's a balanced perspective that we entirely agree with, but we also expect that growth will continue steadily throughout the year.
The number of high net worth individuals continues to grow by around 10 percent per annum, and greater percentages of investment portfolios than ever before are being allocated to investments of passion according to all the leading wealth reports.
There is no more compelling investment of passion than sticking your boot into a gas pedal and knowing that the V6/8/10/12 snarling back at you is not just accelerating like there's no tomorrow, but that its price is doing exactly the same because it is appreciating better than your share portfolio.
This marketplace can be expected to continue to grow, but it's only logical that those who have seen their investments grow at ridiculous rates for the last few years will be wanting to take a profit and invest in the many more moderately priced cars that are just as much fun to drive and don't make one nearly as nervous in traffic. Conversely, if it doesn't sell for a certain price, then the enthusiast buyers will happily drive it for another year or two. The enthusiast market cuts both ways.
It is, after all, still about having fun, and the wonderful story associated with the third car on this list is a great reminder of that. Cars are meant to be driven, and if you're investing for the long term and not for the driving pleasure, may we suggest the scientific instruments market will offer better returns over the next decade (the last section spells out why).
The advent of the internet and the ability to bid at auction from remote locations will also drive this market over the coming yeaairmedrs as investing in automobiles no longer requires a trip to Arizona, London, Paris, Florida or Monterey at a specific and perhaps inconvenient time.
Registering, watching and bidding over the internet is now heading for prime time. This marketplace has plenty of growth in it yet.
RM's star auctioneer at marquee events is Max Girardo. Max is fluent in English, French, Spanish, and Italian, switching seamlessly to the language of a buyer as required then back to the language of the main audience. He also loves his cars, competes in motorsport regularly and really knows how to entertain a crowd. Max has been in the vintage automobile industry since 1998, having joined Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialist in 1998. Max, BTW, is also the Managing Director of RM Europe. All the auctions from RM (and indeed, all the key automotive auctioneers such as Bonhams, Gooding & Co, Mecum and Barrett-Jackson, can be viewed live on the internet, As television audiences are increasingly finding out, auctions about the focus of your investment of passion make for particularly compelling viewing.
Finally, the marques which comprised this hyper-elite top 41 are heavily weighted towards Europe. Ferrari, as always dominated the sales, with 11 of the top 15 most valuable cars sold and 15 of the top 41.
Mercedes finished with eight cars in the million dollar club, finishing second to Ferrari as it does in the top 100 analysis, while Porsche and Shelby American have four cars each. Shelby's name is associated with one other car - the Ford Shelby GT350R Coupe, which is Ford's only entry.
Lamborghini and GM have two cars each, while Packard, BMW, Talbot-Lago, Bentley, Maserati and Ford have one each.
And finally, the roll of honour:
Sold by RM Auctions for US$9,625,000
320 hp, 3,286 aluminum-block V-12 engine with six Weber 38 DCN carburetors, five-speed transmission, independent suspension with front and rear unequal length wishbones with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, and anti-roll bars, and four-wheel disc brakes.
The ninth of just thirty-two 250 LMs (Le Mans) built, the only thing preventing this car from moving straight into the Top 100 most valuable cars ever sold at auction was its reserve price.
The Ferrari LM deserved its top spot during auction week. Wickedly fast, stunningly beautiful and an asset certain to appreciate. What's more, despite being the wrong side of 50, it'll hold its own against modern cars through any stretch of swervery.
The 250 LM holds a special place in Ferrari history, being the last car from Maranello to win the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans half a century ago (1965). This car in has an extensive race history (including an initial campaign by Scuderia Filipinetti with Ludovico Scarfiotti and Nino Vaccarella behind the wheel) but in the battleground of competitive motorsport, it has seen many incarnations, has at times been fitted with a different engine, had its chassis shortened, and quite remarkably, was for a time fitted with the body of a Porsche 906 Carrera, complete with gullwing doors.
The Ferrari 250 LM crosses the block, leading the Ferrari domination of rare car auctions once more. Two cars tied for tenth place at Scottsdale, meaning the "top ten" contained eleven cars - eight of which emanated from Maranello.
It was purchased in 1977 by musician and recording engineer Eric Stewart (from the Mindbenders and 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.
Sold by Bonhams for US$9,405,000
3,286cc SOHC V12 Engine with three Weber 40DFI/7 Carburettors, producing approximately 320bhp at 7,500rpm, five-speed transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, four-wheel Disc Brakes
A contender for the most valuable car sold at Scottsdale, this 275GTB Competizione was a three-time participant in the GT Class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning the 1967 GT Class in the race and placing eleventh outright after running in the top ten until the final hours. Like the car above, it was campaigned by 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, this car (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 catalog page with that provenance driving it to a new auction record for the model.
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$7,700,000
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.
The full story of Jack Castor's 250 GT California Spyder is on the Gooding & Co page for the car. It's the story of a true enthusiast of relatively humble means who sold his VW Beetle and took out a loan when the California Spyder was worth $3750, then drove it for a lifetime despite offers that grew to 2000 times its original price. Vale Jack Castor.
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 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.
4 – 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake
Sold by Barrett-Jackson for 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 at Scottsdale last week.
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$4,070,000
3,967 CC Single Overhead Camshaft 60º V-12 Engine, with three Weber 40 DCZ 6 carburettors, producing 320 BHP at 6,600 rpm, four-speed transmission with electric overdrive, four-wheel vacuum-assisted disc brakes, independent front suspension with coil springs and shock absorbers, live rear axle with radius arms, semi-elliptical leaf springs, and shock absorbers
At the 1960 Brussels Motor Show, Ferrari unveiled the latest evolution of its traditional, top-of-the-range gran turismo – the 400 Superamerica. Although it retained the hallowed Superamerica moniker of the outgoing 410 series, the new car shared little with its predecessor. To begin with, the 400 SA chassis – based largely on the well-developed 250 series – featured a number of noteworthy mechanical refinements, including four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes, telescopic shock absorbers, and a fully synchronized gearbox with overdrive.
The most significant change, however, was the powerplant. While the early "America" models had all used the Lampredi long-block, Ferrari ceased production of the motor in 1959 and instead employed a much larger variation of the Colombo V-12 for the newest Superamerica. Displacing four liters and topped by three substantial Weber carburetors, the V-12 produced as much power as the outgoing 410 Superamerica and further benefited from improved low-rpm torque and ease of maintenance.
The debut of Pininfarina's sensational Superfast II show car and 250 GT Sperimentale competition car in 1960 and 1961 inspired a distinctive line of coachbuilt bodies for the 400 Superamerica chassis. Many of the aesthetic features found on these aforementioned one-offs were incorporated into Pininfarina's Coupe Aerodinamico. The result was one of the most extraordinary series of road-going Ferraris ever built.
While each Coupe Aerodinamico was handcrafted to individual tastes, each one benefited from elegant proportions; a large greenhouse; graceful, fluid lines; and a tapered tail section. Inside, the lucky occupants were treated to a sumptuous interior, replete with comfortable seats upholstered in Connolly leather hides; a spacious luggage platform; a fluted headliner; and an ample selection of auxiliary gauges to monitor the status of the magnificent machine.
At a customer's request, any number of additional features or materials could be specified – Ferrari was only too happy to oblige. This was not an unusual occurrence given that the list of original 400 Superamerica customers included notable individuals such as Gianni Agnelli, Nelson Rockefeller, George Arents, Michel Paul Cavalier, Count Volpi, Count Somsky, and Felice Riva.
Sold by Barrett-Jackson for US$4,000,000
The General Motors Futurliner was originally made for the 1939 New York World's Fair, but following the fair, it was used as a traveling self-contained exhibit of futuristic technologies in GM's "Parade of Progress" where the Futurliners travlled small town America in convoy.
One of twelve Futurliners built under the direction of GM designer Harley Earl (they're all in the image above), this 1950 Futurliner is one of just seven surviving, and one of just three in its 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 pledges going to the Armed Forces Foundation.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$3,657,500
At the Paris Motor Show in October 1966, Ferrari introduced an upgraded version of the 275 GTB, outwardly near identical to its predecessor, as it also employed the long-nose body style that had been adopted later in the original 275's production run, which prevented front lift at speed.
The major difference was under the hood, where a revised version of Gioacchino Colombo's short-block, 300 bhp 3,286 cc V-12 engine sported double overhead camshafts on each bank of six cylinders – the first appearance of such valve actuation in a production Ferrari road car.
This car was delivered new in 1967 to film director John Frankenheimer and was sold with correspondence from the Maranello Concessionaires, a full history by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, various books and tools. The car has been submitted for Ferrari Classiche certification following a a recent mainly-cosmetic restoration.
Ferrari's 365 GTB/4 Daytona was the last of its series of front-engined V-12 grand touring cars, and was nicknamed "Daytona" after Ferrari's 1-2-3 finish at the 1967 24 Hours of Daytona. It carried the torch from the widely acclaimed 275 GTB/4 in spectacular fashion. Its design, penned by Pininfarina and handcrafted by Scaglietti, was vastly different from its predecessor, yet it was also instantly recognizable as a Ferrari in a style all its own.
The 365 Daytona received an all-new 4.4-liter V-12 engine, boasted incredible performance, as 60 mph could be reached from a standstill in just 5.4 seconds and it could achieve a top speed of 174 mph, making it the fastest production car in the world at the time of its unveiling in 1968.
While the Daytona itself is a rare car, with only 1,406 total examples produced from 1968 to 1973, the Spider is considerably rarer, with just 121 built, and these true Spiders are by far the most valuable and desirable variants in terms of road going Daytonas.
With only a handful of test miles accumulated since the completion of its restoration, and only 17,000 believed actual miles in all, this car is in absolutely immaculate condition. The brilliant Argento Metallizzato paintwork shines bright, the Nero leather upholstery appears as new, and the engine bay shows nary a sign of use.
Sold by Barrett-Jackson for US$3,300,000
Originally sold by Barrett-Jackson at Scottsdale nine years ago for US$3,024,000, this 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Concept is a very important piece of American automotive history, having featured in the famous General Motors Futurama touring exhibition (see image gallery for period images).
It's said that Harley Earl, director of GM styling, got the idea for a GM concept car while watching world speed records being set at the Salt Flats in Utah. It would be a sports racer called a Bonneville Special.
That was when 1954 models were being readied for production, and no GM car had ever carried the Bonneville name. Perhaps Harley Earl gave the assignment to Pontiac as the birth of its upcoming performance image.
Under the direction of Earl, Hommer LaGassey and Paul Gilland were directed to build two Bonneville Specials. The bronze car would debut in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf in New York and the green one in the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. The green model would later tour major dealerships around the country.
While many Futurama cars were clearly never going to see production, the Bonneville was realistic enough to be one of the best-remembered. That's it at far left above during the extravaganza of the fifties.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$2,750,000
The GTB was unveiled at the 1964 Paris Auto Show, alongside the drop-top 275 GTS, and it was clearly a worthy successor to the 250 series of cars that it replaced. It was designed and developed under the watchful eye of Enzo Ferrari himself. It featured gorgeous bodywork, which was arguably more attractive than the stunning 250 GT/L Lusso that it replaced, and incorporated a number of mechanical improvements that led to increased performance, making for Ferrari's best grand tourer yet.
10 – 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO
Sold by RM Auctions for US$2,750,000
The second coming of the GTO name was not something that Ferrari took lightly. Due to the thoroughness of the execution by Ferrari in living up to the original 250 GTO (GTO stands for "Gran Turismo Omologato", which is Italian for "Grand Touring Homologated" – essentially a car built for racing in sufficient numbers for homologation in the GT class) the 288 GTO is most likely to follow a similar value appreciation curve as its predecessor, though with 272 available (compared to the 250 GTO's 39 units), there's still time to get into one before they start bringing really silly prices.
This 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO sold by RM Auctions for US$2,750,000 at Scottsdale, indicating that the time is nigh.
When Ferrari revived the legendary moniker in 1984, there was little question the name would be devalued if the new GTO did not match or surpass the 250 GTO's record in motorsport.
Accordingly, Ferrari produced the 288 GTO in order to homologate it for competition within the FIA Group B rally circuit series, which required a production run of 200 cars. Group B was incredibly popular following its introduction in the early '80s, especially in Europe, and Ferrari was eager to jump into the fray, as they were certain that their car would be unmatched in competition. However, Group B was cancelled shortly thereafter, leaving a fully developed and homologated car but no series to compete in. It was clear that the public was anticipating Ferrari's newest no-compromises supercar, and the 288 GTO was produced with no series to race in.
This 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO sold for US$2,750,000. It was purchased new by Yoshiho Matsuda and was the first 288 GTO officially delivered to Japan, remaining in his collection until 2010. It has less than 11,000 kilometers on the odometer.
While it shared visual cues with the 308 and 328, there was no denying that the 288 GTO was far more special. Composites were used in the majority of the bodywork, while the doors, roof, and bonnet were formed from lightweight aluminum. The race-bred, 2.8-liter V-8 engine with twin IHI turbochargers pumped out 400 horsepower with 366 foot-pounds of torque. The 288 GTO had a top speed of 189 mph, making it the fastest road car ever produced at the time of its launch. Its acceleration was equally impressive, and the car could reach 60 mph from a standstill in 4.8 seconds and 100 mph in 10.2, which was fast enough to keep everything short of a fighter jet in its rearview mirror.
12 – 1968 Ferrari 330 GTS
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$2,420,000
One of just 99 examples produced, this 1968 Ferrari 330 GTS was completely restored to bare metal in 2000, and was sold by Gooding & Company with complete documentation by Ferrari Historian Marcel Massini for US$2,420,000.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$2,365,000
The 275 GTS premiered alongside the 275 GTB at the 1964 Paris Auto Show, and to the casual onlooker, these coupe siblings looked like completely different automobiles. Yet, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Both cars looked wholly different, but underneath they bore similar 3.3-liter Colombo V-12s, chassis, and suspensions. This 1966 Ferrari 275 GTS by Pininfarina sold by Gooding & Co. for US$2,420,000. Photo: Darin Schnabel ©2014
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,980,000
The first of a new generation, the Carrera 6 Type 906 redefined the concept of a modern Porsche race car, and its influence would be felt for many years, setting the stage for the all-conquering 917 program. The Carrera 6 was an immediate success in motor sports, debuting with a class win at the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona. From there, 906s went on to capture class wins at Sebring and Monza, followed by an outright victory at the Targa Florio. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 906s placed 4-5-6-7 behind three seven-liter GT40 Mk IIs, outlasting the prototype entries from Ferrari, Chaparral, and Matra. In total, Porsche built approximately 65 examples of the Carrera 6 between 1966 and 1967. Primarily run by a variety of privateer teams, 906s remained competitive at the highest levels of international racing well into the early 1970s, a testament to their inherent strength and versatility. This 1966 Porsche 906 Carrera 6 sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,980,000.
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,925,000
As the last 250 GT model, the Lusso was the culmination of a decade of steady chassis development and benefited from a rugged yet compliant suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and the brilliant three-liter V-12. The Lusso's exquisite coachwork, designed by Pininfarina and constructed by Carrozzeria Scaglietti, has always received great acclaim. Chuck Jordan of General Motors Styling Department famously remarked that "Pininfarina's Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso exhibits for all time that transformation of form and function into the spiritual presence by which great art transcends mere art." This 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,925,000.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,897,500
That this Miura SV Jota ONLY sold for US$1,897,500 is surprising as it has the capability of mixing it with its contemporaries at a track day, or winning a major Concours event. One of only a handful of Miuras SVs factory-converted to Jota specifications between 1971 and 1975, the exquisite SVJ was fully restored in 2007. Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,897,500
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,815,000
First shown at the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show were two new variations on the V-8-powered BMW 502: the 503 and the 507. Though both models were designed by Count Albrecht von Goertz, it was the spectacular 507 that stole the show. With a rigid box frame, upgraded suspension, synchromesh gearbox, and large Al-fn drum brakes, the 507 possessed an ideal foundation for BMW's robust twin-carburetor V-8 engine. The 507 was capable of 125 mph–135 mph and offered brilliant acceleration, reaching 0 to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds. Initially intended to fill a gap between the lower-priced English imports and the phenomenally expensive Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, the 507 commanded a princely US$8,988, making it one of the most expensive and exclusive cars of its day. As a result, the elegant BMW attracted celebrities as diverse as Elvis Presley and motor sports hero John Surtees. One of just 252 examples built, this 1959 BMW 507 Series II sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,815,000.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,705,000
Following the 953's win in the 1984 Paris-Dakar, Porsche decided to build a "Super Porsche" – a turbocharged 911 variant with all-wheel drive and variable ride height. The result was the 959, a technological masterpiece and arguably the most technically advanced automobile built during the 1980s: a race-proven 450 bhp, twin-turbocharged flat six, a six-speed transaxle, state-of-the-art PSK variable differentials, and aerodynamically effective composite bodywork. In 1986, the 959 finished 1-2 in the Paris-Dakar and the Group B car won its class at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Just 284 959s were built in two configurations, Komfort and Sport. Only 29 Sport models were built, and this car is built to the even rarer Factory Stage II Spec. It has an outstanding maintenance history Including a full €55,000 Porsche Classic Service in 2011. It was sold by RM Auctions for US$1,705,000.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,705,000
This 1962 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II by Pininfarina was sold by RM Auctions for US$1,705,000. Images: Darin Schnabel ©2015
The 250 series was Ferrari's crowning achievement of the 1950s and early 1960s. From the lovely Lusso and the sporty California Spider to the Tour de France and, of course, the Series II Cabriolet, the basic construction formula included a high-revving, powerful V-12 engine, a shiver-inducing exhaust note, and bodies by the best Italian coachbuilders that would clothe a chassis in two-door form.
The 250 GT Cabriolet Series II debuted in 1959 with a Pinin Farina design that was crafted completely by hand, and it was executed entirely at the discretion of the designer's senses of touch and sight. The lines, smooth and flowing from front to rear, exhibited an air of sophistication, which was complemented by four exhausts at the rear, a hood scoop, sporting wire wheels, and all the trappings that defined the finest Ferrari "grand touring" cars.
The Ferrari offered here is the 186th of 200 Cabriolet Series IIs produced, and it is noteworthy as the only example originally finished in Rosso Cina (Chinese Red). This Cabriolet was equipped with a Nero Connolly leather and vinyl interior when it was delivered in late July 1962 to Luigi Chinetti Motors in New York. It was sold in August to its original owner, Frank O'Brien Jr., who was the second-generation leader of Philadelphia's O'Brien Machinery Company, suppliers of power-generating equipment, and a prominent local socialite with a 70-acre horse farm in Chester County. Its entire ownership history since has been traced, and is detailed here.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,650,000
Designed by Ferdinand A. Porsche, (grandson of founder), the two-seat Type 904 competition coupe utilized a mid-engine boxed steel ladder tubing frame and composite body panels bonded to the frame, creating a semi-monocoque. In its inaugural 1964 season, the 904 GTS won at Sebring, the Targa Florio, Spa, the Nürburgring 1000 KM, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (a 1-4 class sweep), the 12 Hours of Reims, the Coppa Inter-Europa, the Tour de France, the Bridgehampton 500 KM, and the 1000 KM of Paris. In U.S. amateur racing, the 904 was considered potent enough to be classed with the much more powerful big block Corvettes and Cobras, and it still acquitted itself admirably. Porsche produced just over 100 of these exquisite coupes, before it was superceded by the space-framed 906. This 1965 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS was sold by RM Auctions for US$1,650,000.
Sold by Barrett-Jackson for US$1,650,000
One of just eight built using the SWB chassis of the Grand Prix cars, this Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport, this car has almost identical mechanicals to the T26 which won the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1950. It is one of only three Grand Sports with Franay coachwork and the only one fitted with a sunroof. The six-cylinder DOHC 4.5 Liter engine with its three carburettors also comes from the Grand Prix car, and produces nearly 200 hp, making it one of the fastest road cars available at the time. This car came with a detailed history, including receipts and pictures of a frame-off Concours-level restoration costing hundreds of thousands of dollars - it was recently displayed on the lawn at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. It is also eligible for the premier historic events, such as the Mille Miglia and California Mille. It sold for US$1,650,000.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,622,500
If you've made it to this point in the article, you'll no doubt know what an FXX is. Based on the Ferrari Enzo, it is a prototype race car built by Ferrari for its elite customers. The full auction description is worth a read. Like all FXXs, it has been fully maintained by the factory. Rare, super high tech, and with it's 860 hp 6.2 liter V-12 producing 860 hp, scarier than Genghis Khan unless you really know what you're doing.This car was the first customer FXX produced and has only been used three times on track days. Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,622,500. Images: Erik Fuller
23 – 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,595,000
One of only 200 examples built and upgraded in period to six-carb induction, this car was sold with a complete history documented by Ferrari Historian Marcel Massini, and a continuous 45-Year ownership. It sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,595,000
Sold by Barrett-Jackson for US$1,595,000
A genuine factory-spec 427 Street Cobra in its factory correct original shade of Vineyard Green. The car was sold with a full history and was the recipient of a recent no-expense-spared, nut and bolt restoration. Well-documented by the Shelby American Registry, original drivetrain, unmodified body and original Sunburst wheels. Sold by Barrett-Jackson for US$1,595,000.
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,567,500
In every respect, this 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster is a benchmark example of the legendary 300 SL Roadster – an exclusive and important Mercedes-Benz of unrivalled beauty and sophistication, whose authenticity, exceptional originality, and magnetic presence place it among the top tier of collectible automobiles. Read the auction description for the finer detail, but the car sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,567,500
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,525,000
The silent sportscar and a positioning that was unique. With a body made of light alloy, the Mulliner-bodied R-Type Continental combined the swiftness of a Ferrari, the driver-friendly agility of an Alfa Romeo, and the luxuriant comfort of a Rolls-Royce in one elite, built-to-order package that cost $18,000. In the early 1950s, there was no other automobile quite like it in the world, which made it a "must-have" for the burgeoning jet set. In the words of Autocar magazine, it was "a modern magic carpet." Of the 207 production Continentals built between May 1952 and April 1955, Mulliner would body 193 of them to variations of their prototype design, which was dubbed the Sports Saloon. This 1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Sports by Mulliner sold by RM Auctions for US$1,525,000. Images: Darin Schnabel
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,485,000
The Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI) tracks the rare car marketplace in general and the Mercedes-Benz marque in particular, publishing a specific Mercedes-Benz Classic Index (MBCI). Figures released by HAGI 12 months ago showed the average increase in value of the 300 SL Coupé since 1980 is 11 percent, but for the last ten years, the figure is almost 18 percent, which corresponds to a quadrupling of the value since 2004. In the case of the 300 SL Roadster, the rise in value since 1980 is almost 13 percent. For the 29 Gullwings that were built with aluminum bodywork, cars which are seen extremely rarely in the market, an average increase in value of more than 16 per cent can be demonstrated.
The original Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was created for the 1952 racing season with success beginning with second and fourth at the Mille Miglia, then followed a 1-2 at Le Mans, Nürburgring, and the Carrera Panamericana, with a 1-2-3 sweep at Bern.
Although Mercedes-Benz had no intentions of putting the car into production, US importer Max Hoffman convinced the factory to offer a production model by ordering 1,000 of them to be built and sent to the United States. The resulting car proceeded with a limited production, and the 300 SL became the first Mercedes-Benz to be introduced in the United States before it was shown in Germany.
At left, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198) and the 190 SL (W 121) dominate the stand of Mercedes-Benz importer Maximilian Hoffman at the New York International Motor Sports Show on February 6, 1954. The show was the international debut for the car, the first time that a car had been shown outside Germany before it was shown inside Germany. The German debut of the 300 SL and 190 SL was at the 1955 Frankfurt International Motor Show (right).
The 300 SL was unveiled in New York on February 6, 1954, and it took the automotive world by storm. The SL moniker reflected the pioneering use of multi-tube space-frame construction. It also featured fully independent suspension, in addition to its fuel-injected, 240-horsepower straight-six with dry-sump lubrication, as well as an engine that was inclined to the side in order to reduce the height of the bonnet. Power was delivered through a four-speed manual gearbox, giving the car a 150"mph top speed and a 0–60 mph time of just 8.8 seconds, making it the fastest production automobile of its time. The result was a car that you could buy in New York City in 1954 for a princely sum of $6,820.
Hoffman's original request of 1,000 cars was exceeded, as production of the semi-hand-built car reached 1,400 units. The 300 SL Coupe, or Gullwing as it became known, was discontinued after the 1957 model year. Today, it remains one of the most recognized and coveted of all sports cars ever built.
Sold by Russo & Steele for $1,430,000
While derived from the 300 SL "Gullwing" Coupe, the 300 SL Roadster was far more than a familial resemblance to its predecessors might suggest. Built around a revised and strengthened yet lightweight space-frame chassis, the 300 SL Roadster featured conventional-opening doors, a more pleasant ride and more forgiving handling characteristics, while retaining the sporting dynamics demanded by enthusiasts.
A revised camshaft profile delivered additional power and performance, and the convertible top and associated mechanisms disappeared neatly beneath a hard cover when lowered. Coveted from new by the top names in the business, entertainment, political, and social spheres, the 300 SL Roadster continues to weave its magic throughout today's sports-car market.
The lengths to which enthusiasts are prepared to go is recounted in minute detail in the auction description of this particular, better than new, prime specimen. It tells a tale of a "cost is no object" 12-year restoration project on this Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster.
Hundreds of hours are recorded with sub-contract receipts of a thorough engine refurbishment which includes a complete Magnaflux of the block, crank flywheel and connecting rods, the con-rods shot-peened then the complete balancing and surgeon-like assembly of all moving parts within the engine and gearbox.
Sold by Bonhams for US$1,375,000
Instantly recognisable as the Mercedes-Benz 300SL (for Sports Leicht) Gullwing coupe, this 1955 model was built with DB 534 Feuerwehrrot (Fire Brigade Red) paintwork for its first owner, The Right Honourable Lord Terence O'Neill, Baron O'Neill of the Maine. At the end of 1945, Lord O'Neill and his family went to live in Northern Ireland, where he served in a series of political positions. Around the time he acquired the Gullwing, O'Neill was elevated to cabinet level, until his appointment as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1963. Lord O'Neill remained in office until 1969. The entire history of the car and the model is detailed on the official auction page. The car was sold by Bonhams for US$1,375,000.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,347,500
The Maserati 3500 GT was launched at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show. This 1961 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder by Vignale was originally a Maserati factory demonstration unit, and comes with the 220 bhp, 3,485 cc DOHC inline six-cylinder engine with the preferred triple Weber 42 DCOE carburettors. It was recently fully restored and sold by RM Auctions with a full history for US$1,347,500. Images: Dan Savinelli ©2014
31 – 1990 Ferrari F40
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,265,000
In 1986, Porsche claimed the title of the world's fastest road car when it introduced the 959 which could achieve 197 mph. Ferrari's answer was this car, the F40, which was developed from the 288 GTO Evoluzione. Using advanced aerodynamics and a 478 bhp, 2,936 cc DOHC twin-turbocharged V-8 engine with Weber-Marelli fuel injection, the F40 was the first production car to break the 200 mph barrier, achieving a top speed of 201.4 mph. This particular example, highlighted by its low mileage, Classiche certification, and impeccable condition, was sold by RM Auctions for US$1,265,000. Photos: Robin Adams ©2015
Sold by Bonhams for US$1,237,500
This 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster spent the majority of its life in the loving care of one owner who kept it next to his Lamborghini Miura. When the original owner passed away, the car was sold to well-known Utah-based car enthusiast Jack Plumb, who stripped the body back to the metal in a complete restoration. The car's indicated mileage of under 57,000 is original and it was sold by Bonhams for US$1,237,500, complete with its original books, tools, and the factory hard top in its original wooden German shipping crate.
Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in May 1958, the 300SL Roadster wasn't the result of a quick fix to meet owner demands. Mercedes re-engineered the whole car, taking the opportunity to fix some niggles that afflicted the 300SL – first and foremost the suspension. Although the double wishbone front layout was famed for its precision, the rear swing arm axle, jointed at the differential, had developed a reputation for tricky handling and sensitivity to cambers. Lowering the pivot point helped calm the 300SL's predilection for oversteer.
At the same time the fabulous 3.0-liter straight six, which featured fuel injection years ahead of its time, was boosted from 215 bhp to 225 bhp (torque output remained at 202lb-ft at 4,600rpm) and the chassis was redesigned with lower sills to accommodate normal swing-opening doors – although additional strengthening was required in the lower half of the chassis which saw the SL's weight grow from 1,310 kg to 1,420 kg.
Partially to increase load space and partially to create room for the folding fabric roof, the fuel tank capacity was reduced from 130 liters to 100 liters, but arguably the biggest benefit the Roadster gained over the Gullwing was superior ventilation. Due at least in part to the coupe's small in/out side windows, the hard top 300SL was regarded by many as tough work on long trips due to heat buildup in the cabin. Even with its roof up the Roadster's wind-up windows allowed much better airflow through the cockpit.
By no means the poor relation to the Gullwing, the later refinements added to the Roadster made it a compelling proposition for collectors and enthusiasts despite a list price of $10,950, a ten percent increase over the Gullwing. And while the coupe had a model-run of under three years, the Roadster stayed in production until early 1963, by which time 1,858 had been built.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,210,000
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,155,000
This highly original and unrestored, low-mileage 289 Cobra was sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,155,000.
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$1,155,000
First shown as a bare chassis at the 1965 Torino show and then unveiled with its body fitted to stunned onlookers at the 1966 Geneva Salon, Lamborghini's Miura P400 made significant waves in the sports car world with styling by Bertone's Marcello Gandini, a chassis designed by a team led by Gian Paolo Dallara, with testing and development spearheaded by Bob Wallace.
While strictly a road car from the outset, the Miura's mechanical specifications rivaled those of the world's finest competition cars, including its lightweight chassis, all-independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and Giotto Bizzarrini-derived DOHC V-12 engine with four Weber twin-choke carburetors mounted transversely in unit with the five-speed manual transaxle. Capable of reaching nearly 180 mph in the hands of the brave, the Miura was soon developed into the comprehensively updated Miura P400 S (for Spinto, or tuned) version, which appeared in late 1968 at Torino.
Among its upgrades, the Miura P400 S was equipped with low-profile Pirelli tires, a power boost to 370 bhp, power windows, optional leather upholstery, redesigned interior switchgear, a passenger grab handle, and a glove-box lid; and on later examples, brakes were vented and air-conditioning was optional. External cues included chrome window and windscreen surrounds and rear badging. The final evolution was the SV model; by the time production ended in 1973, approximately 765 Miuras were built in all, including 275 P400s, 338 S-models, and 150 SVs.
Sold by Barrett-Jackson for US$1,100,000
This 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing has been driven just 200 miles since a 2,000 hour nut-and-bolt restoration, and has lived the last decade in a climate-controlled garage. It sold for US$1.1 million in Scottsdale
In 1955, Guatemalan Mercedes-Benz dealer, collector and veteran sports car racer Manfredo Lippmann imported three new 300SL Gullwing coupes to Guatemala for the Central American market.
From the Mercedes-Benz archives, the first Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster to be transported by air arrived at La Aurora Airport in Guatemala from Panama in 1956.
Of the 300 Gullwings built for export outside the United States, they were the only three sold to Guatemala. One of the three cars delivered to Lippmann by Mercedes-Benz was this Silver Grey coupe, serial number 5500606. Go to the Barrett-Jackson description for this car for the full history, which finishes with a 2,000 hour nut-and-bolt restoration completed in 2006 and fitting with period (reproduction) Rudge knock-off wheels. The car was sold with the original owner's manual and tools, has been driven fewer than 200 miles since the restoration, and has lived the last decade in a climate-controlled garage.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,045,000
The second of two Porsche 959s sold at Scottsdale was this Komfort Model. Only 284 959s were ever made, and 255 were Komfort models. Such was the development cost of the Porsche "halo" car that even with a price tag of $300,000, it is said that Porsche lost money on the project. As such, those that were built were destined for Porsche's favorite customers and most went to Europe, as they were not specified to be compliant with U.S. DOT and emissions standards. That didn't stop a few well-heeled Americans from bringing a few stateside under the Show and Display Law which was championed by 959 owners Bill Gates and Paul Allen. This 1988 Porsche 959 Komfort was sold by RM Auctions for US$1,045,000 in Scottsdale.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$1,045,000
Once owned by no less a far-sighted collector than Otis Chandler, this 1932 Packard Deluxe Eight Sport Phaeton is a genuine Dietrich Individual Custom Packard and one of just two known examples built by Dietrich on the 904 Deluxe Eight chassis. The full auction description is worth reading. This exceptional, meticulously maintained concours restoration was sold by RM Auctions for US$1,045,000.
Sold by Barrett-Jackson for US$1,045,000
Replete with many luxurious styling features of its big brothers, the 500K and 540K (many of which are in the top 100 most expensive cars of all-time), this elegant 1937 Mercedes-Benz 320 Cabriolet B sold for US$1,045,000, indicating the strength of the entire Mercedes-Benz brand in the pre-war period.
Sold by Bonhams for US$1,017,500
This Shelby Cobra 289 (CSX2570) was one of the Shelby American display cars at the 1965 New York Auto Show. The Bonhams' page details a delightful story of this car being deeply loved in one family from 1965 until 2011, being passed from father to son and being driven and serviced so that it never needed any major restoration work. Great story. It sold for US$1,017,500
Sold by Barrett-Jackson for US$1,000,000
Ford donated the coveted VIN 001 of the new GT350R Ford Shelby for auction at Barrett-Jackson with all proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the leading organization focused on type 1 diabetes research in the world. The all-new Shelby GT350R features the first-ever production V8 from Ford with a flat-plane crankshaft, the most powerful naturally aspirated engine Ford has ever produced, plus a specially tuned suspension. The Shelby GT350R sold for US$1 million.
Sold by RM Auctions for US$990,000
While much has been written about this Cobra, it is most famous for its appearances in promotional pieces for the menswear company, Mr. Formal Wear, the most famous of which depicts a buxom blonde, clad in white tuxedo shirt, bow tie, high heels, and nothing else, chatting on a payphone next to the Cobra before two astonished onlookers. Another piece, famously titled "Some Guys Have It Tough," depicts the Cobra beachside, with its driver and his lovely passenger skinny-dipping in the distance. Those posters appeared on bedroom and workshop walls all over the country and became legend among Cobra enthusiasts. This is THAT car. It sold for $990,000.
42 – 1990 Ferrari 641/2
Sold by Gooding & Co. for US$990,000
It's not often that a genuine Formula One Grand Prix winner comes up for auction, but this Ferrari 641/2 was campaigned during the 1990 F1 Season by Nigel Mansell, winning the 1990 Portuguese Grand Prix and scoring two further podiums in Spain and Australia. In 1992–1993 the car underwent a complete rebuild at the Ferrari factory. Pure gold at US$990,000.