The most popular car in the world might be the Toyota Corolla, but not everyone wants to drive one. True, they’re great little cars, but going to the opposite end of the scale, you realize why movie stars, billionaires, and museums drive something altogether different. The rarest cars in the world weren’t produced in their millions, not even in the hundreds, and it’s that exclusivity that makes them also some of the most expensive cars in the world.
Icona Vulcano Titanium – 1 @ $3.8 Million
As much function as form, the singular Vulcano was entirely hand-crafted in titanium and carbon fiber; basically, what the Delorean DMC-12 was to stainless steel. Powered by a supercharged V8 engine, the car can sprint to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds, and it’s indeed built for racing, but is powerful and efficient off the track, too. Only one has been built.
Maybach Exelero – 1 @ $8 Million
When German tire maker Fulda wanted to test its premium lineup of tires, it called upon Maybach to build a new coupe to test them on.
Porsche 917K – 12 @ $14 million
The last time a 917K was at auction, it became the world’s most expensive Porsche, and it’s not all about how rare the car is. True, just a dozen were ever built, but was quite a successful race car. Able to sprint to 60 mph in just 2.3 seconds, the 917K put that agility to use to win the 24 hours at Le Mans twice, setting a distance record that stood for nearly forty years.
Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato – 19 @ $14.3 million
Already an iconic and beautiful race car, the DB4 GT wasn’t “enough” for Aston Martin, not with Ferrari and others nipping at its heels, and so the company turned to coachbuilder Zagato. A unique conglomeration of Italian style and English designs, it’s the best of both worlds, and often recognized as one of the most beautiful Aston Martins ever built.
Bugatti Type 41 Royale – 6 @ $15-20 million (estimated)
Powerful, luxurious, and huge, this 21-foot long coupe was originally meant to be sold to royalty, but only three of the cars ever sold. The 12.7-liter engine was based on aircraft engines of the day and one of the largest automobile engines ever built. Today, all six are in museums, though they make regular appearances at car shows.
Helica de Leyat – 2 @ >$20 million (estimated)
French automotive pioneer Marcel Leyat believed air power was the way to go. Basically an airplane without wings, Leyat figured the lightweight propeller-driven vehicle would be both fast and efficient, but it was never a commercial success. Of the thirty or so ever built, only two are known to remain, both in museums.
Aston Martin DBR1 – 5 @ $22.5 million
In the late-1960s, Aston Martin built one of its purest race cars, the DBR1. Just a handful were ever built, and they were wildly successful racers, even winning the World Sportscar Championship and 24 Hours at Le Mans in the same year. The last time one was auctioned, it was the most expensive British car ever sold at auction.
1904 Rolls-Royce 15 hp – 1 @ >$35 million (estimated)
Before Rolls-Royce was a company, the two men worked together on at least one project, one of which was the 1904 Rolls-Royce 15. The car is so old we can’t really call it vintage, but veteran. Today, of the six built, only one remains, protected in a museum.