It may take some doing to dislodge the car currently in first place, Fangio’s 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Single-Seater, which sold in July for an incredible $29,650,095. Still, this Ferrari 250 LM, of which only 32 were ever built, is viewed as equally special to Prancing Horse aficionados.
It was the first Ferrari to use a mid-engine layout meaning that Mr Scaglietti could ‘go crazy’ with the body shell design, wrapping the panels round the shorter body and creating the Ferrari design principles that persist to this day.
And that engine, a 320-horsepower V12, was a technological and engineering marvel, blitzing the competition. All of which explains why the final price paid make the car the fourth most expensive in history — just behind two other Ferraris — a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider which sold this year for $27.5 million and a 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype which fetched $16.39 million in 2011.
These prices may sound incredible and suggest that a classic car bubble is about to burst, but the truth is that the prices paid at auction are usually much lower than those paid in private and brokered sales.
The Ferrari 250 GTO is the ultimate classic collectors’ car yet it never gets a chance to get as far as an auction and as a result they regularly change hands for upwards of $40 million.
So, as of today, the Top 10 most expensive cars ever sold at auction are:
- 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Single-Seater $29,650,095.
2. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider $27,500,000.
3. 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype $16,390,000.
4. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM by Carrozzeria Scaglietti $14,300,000.
5. 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta ‘Competizione’ $12,812,800.
6. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa $12,402,500.
7. 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster $11,770,000.
8. 1960 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione $11,275,000.
9. 1968 Ford GT40 $11,000,000.
10. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder $10,894,400