Auto auctions find a large audience on TV due to the excitement and sheer insanity of the prices. There is everything from the super rare exotic, or the very first of the production run, to the historic race car previously owned by a celebrity. While car auctions are not a good barometer of actual retail and resale prices, they are fun to watch, and to occasionally gawk at the prices. While cars in private sales go for truly bonkers prices, you would need seven figures to purchase any cars on this list. Here are the top five most expensive cars sold at auction in the States.
5. 1960 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Competizione
In August 2012, the world economy was still on shaky ground, but a Ferrari was still a safe bet. Increasing in value approximately 15% a year, a classic prancing horse offers better returns than Standard & Poor’s. Of course, it helps when there are only nine of the beautiful long wheelbase roadsters in existence. Sold by Goodings at Pebble Beach, the classic brought in $11,275,000.
4. 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster
August of 2012 was a great time to sell, as this car was another Goodings at Pebble Beach sale. These cars were expensive and rare when new, so the private and auction sales have massively inflated the going price. The supercharged straight-8 may have only 180 horsepower, but bidders didn’t care. The slick German coupe brought in a solid $11,770,000.
3. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM
November 2013 saw the return of the monster-priced Ferrari, as RM Auctions presided over a bidding war in New York City. The excitement was understandable, as this racecar is hot. RM called it “the epitome of design perfection.” Bidders may have been more interested in its class win at the 1968 24 Hours of Daytona. The low and sleek racer brought in a respectable $14,300,000.
2. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa
There is something in the air in August, as that is also the month for this 2011 record setting sale. More of Goodings presiding over the elegant cars and even more elegant people at Pebble Beach, and more of the classic Italians showing they own this segment. The “red head” had racing livery and gorgeous curves the likes of which we will never see on a car again. In that sense, the winning bid of $16,390,000 seems almost reasonable.
1. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spider
August, 2013, a bidder went absolutely nuts for a what looks to be a more subtle version of the above cars. Being a bit less extravagant looking, with its more conventional ‘70s roadster look, it was a bit of a surprise that this 275 GTB/4 went as high as it did (see video below.) RM Auctions listed its entire back story, including racing at Sebring and being driven by Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair. The racing pedigree plus the star power combined with the classic good looks made the Monterey crowd go all-in. Final price, $27,500,000.
*All figures USD price at time of sale.