Every now and then, classic cars hit the news for the hefty prices that they command at exclusive auctions. For the uninitiated, it can be quite a wonder that people are willing to shell out such huge sums of money for old cars that have since been replaced by newer, more models. But to the discerning mind, these prices correctly depict the true value of these cars, establishing their places as key markers in the history of the automotive industry.
In this article, we examine the top 5 most expensive of these classic cars, and why they cost that much.
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR – $143 Million
At the top of this list is a true icon of German engineering – the Mercedes Benz SLR coupe from 1955. Often referred to by those in the know as the “Uhlenhaut Coupe”, only two of these vehicles were ever built by Mercedes. Neither of these two was ever sold back when it was produced. Both remained held by Mercedes, which then displayed one in the Mercedes-Benz museum, and used the other for demonstration purposes.
Mercedes eventually sold this demo car in Stuttgart, Germany, in an auction held by world-renowned auctioneer – R.M. Sotheby’s, for a world record price of $143 Million, on May 5, 2022. This nearly tripled the preceding world record of $48 Million held by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. The proceeds from the sale went towards the Mercedes-Benz Fund, which was started by the company to fund research in environmental sustainability, especially the reduction of carbon emissions.
Initially designed for the race track, the 1955 SLR was named after Rudolf Uhlenhart, a key engineer in Daimler-Benz’s racing team. At a top speed of 290 Km/h, powered by a 302hp engine, this vehicle was the fastest road-legal car manufactured at the time. However, due to an unfortunate track accident in 1955, the Uhlenhart Coupe never participated in any races as was intended.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – $48.4 Million
Of course, the next vehicle on this list is the immediate past world record holder – the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. Also auctioned by R.M. Sotheby’s in August of 2018, this 1952 GTO was just another on a long list of history-making vehicles in the GTO class. The previous record-holding GTO auctioned for $38 Million in 2014. There was also the reported private sale of a 1964 GTO for $70 Million.
The Ferrari GTOs have always been a highly sought-after class of cars. Right from when they were first manufactured, purchases were subject to the approval of Enzo Ferrari. And Ferrari only ever produced 36 of these vehicles, between 1962 and 1964.
Designed in the signature lipstick red color by 2 legendary Ferrari engineers – Sergio Scaglietti and Giotto Bizzarrini, the 1962 Ferrari GTO weighs 1940 Pounds, runs on a 3-liter 296HP V12 engine, and reaches a top speed of 174 mph.
1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO – $38 Million
Unsurprisingly, the next vehicle on the list is another GTO from the same series. Sold by Bonhams in 2014 for $38 Million, this Ferrari 250 GTO is just another testament to the unending allure of the GTO class. This particular car used to belong to Fabrizio Violati, a legendary race car driver and avid Ferrari collector, who passed away in 2010; it was reportedly the star of his collection. It is pretty fitting, that its time as holder of the world record was ended by yet another GTO.
1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider – $35.7 Million
This vehicle, particularly favored by many race drivers at the time, made headlines when it set the world record in 2015, after being sold at auction for $35.7 Million, by Artcurial Automobiles. The list of epoch-making race drivers who drove the 335 S Spider includes Stirling Moss, an English racing car driver who earned an OBE for his accomplishments, and Maurice Trintignant, a French driver who logged one of the longest career years at the time.
Ferrari only ever produced 4 of these cars, and as such, they are extremely rare; hence the price that this particular unit attracted when it came up for auction in 2015. With a 2-liter V12 engine producing 390 HP of power, the 1957 335 S Spider reaches top speeds of 300 Km/h.
1935 Duesenberg SSJ – $22 Million
Considering that most of the vintage cars that command the highest prices on the market are associated with the history of car racing, there are not a lot of classic American cars in the exclusive community of hyper-expensive vintage cars. Regardless, the 1935 Duesenberg SSJ made this list. Initially owned by Gary Cooper, one of Hollywood’s most known actors in history, this particular unit was sold for $22 Million in an auction in 2018.
Unlike the other vehicles on this list, the SSJ was intended as a luxury, not a race car, so it weighs significantly higher and is also significantly less fast. Weighing a massive 5,200 Pounds, the Duesenberg SSJ runs on a 7.3-Liter supercharged engine, producing 400 HP. The SSJ reaches 60 mph in about 8 seconds and hits a top speed of 160 mph.
The world of classic and vintage cars is a pretty exclusive one. Like most of the vehicles on the list, they usually cost millions to acquire, and also a lot to insure and maintain. But the experience makes it all worth it; there’s nothing that can be compared to the feeling of driving a drop-top vintage car, with the wind blowing through your hair. Even the president owns one – a green 1967 Corvette Stingray. Click here to find more stylish and exclusive Classic cars.
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.