What is the most expensive car in the world ?
This is without a doubt one of the questions that comes up the most: What is the most expensive car in the world? Wether it’s via private message or comment, this seems to be a very important issue for people. I’ll write this article in 2 parts. First of all, and considering this is why you came here for: I’ll give you the most expensive cars in the world. My knowledge is far from being encyclopedic and I’m bound to make mistakes, but I did try to paint you the most accurate picture possible. Last but not least, I will try to give you an explanation of why we are fascinated by that kind of stuff, according to me.
Whenever people ask me the question, more often than not, it is followed by a possible answer. It’s almost as if people wanted a confirmation on their beliefs, which 90% of the time, are wrong. Most people seem to think the most expensive cars in the world are either the Koenigsegg (Agera, Regera), Bugatti (Veyron, Chiron). I can’t quite figure out why a vast majority of people give those answers, except for the fact it seems to be what is falsely advertized to them, provided you don’t do a bit of research. Indeed, those cars are advertised as being the best of the best. Hence, massive prices. Most lists will feature special or limited-edition cars, like the Lamborghini Veneno, the Ferrari F60 America, the Koenigsegg One:1, The Lykan Hypersport etc etc. They’re all wrong.
Sure, those are indeed very expensive cars in their own selective « hypercar » category, way above the million-euro mark. We are swimming in 2 million / 5 million euros territory. But that’s not even close to the most expensive cars in the world. I feel it’s necessary to specify that we’re mainly talking about road-legal cars here. There is a WHOLE OTHER WORLD of expensive cars in the racing grounds that far surpasses all that is new and shiny.
Speaking of which, let’s start tackling the real core of the subject at hand. What is the most expensive car in the world? As you will find out soon: they’re ALL classic cars. Forget your modern, speed-record-breaking marvels of technology: the real value of 4-wheeled machines lies in their history, especially their RACING history (for the most part). This is where « expensive cars » draw the line and begin to step into the world of fine automobiles. Those cars are often subject to speculation because they’re considered as safe investments.
#1 – The Ferrari 250 GTO ( 50 million USD)
To this day, there is a vast consensu and it remains the most expensive car in the world. Several Ferrari 250 GTO have been sold over the last few years, mostly over private deals. All went over the 45 million USD mark. The last Ferrari 250 GTO to enter the market is #3387GT, the 2nd 250 GTO made (out of the 36 units). I have had the luxury of seeing this specific model during the 2012 GTO Tour in Le Mans Classic. Estimates? More than $56 Million USD.
Back in 2014, auction house Bonhams had sold a Ferrari 250 GTO for $38 million USD. You can see prices have slightly gone up. Prices for a specific 250 GTO vary depending on the racing history of the car, but I don’t think there is one that is valued at less than 30 or 40 million euros. Nowadays, owning a Ferrari 250 GTO is not only a very very good investment, but it’s also a status car: you’re part of a very small family of very fortunate people. It’s like being part of a club, really. Back in the day, some people have owned several units of the 250 GTO (like french collector and Pierre Bardinon, who owned up to 3 at a time, or a japanese collector who had 4). Among the famous owners of the Ferrari 250 GTO we have fashion mogul Ralph Lauren or Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason.
#2 – The 1957 Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic ( 43 million USD)
Woot, a french car made it on the list! French pride! Whenever someone says a Bugatti is the most expensive car in the world, they COULD be right, even though they were probably thinking of the Veyron or the Chiron when saying that. Most people tend to forget the prolific past of Ettore Bugatti’s brand, and the exquisite dancing lines of the models from this era.
The Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic is the fruit of Jean Bugatti’s pencil drawings and is a real automobile myth, some might call it the pinnacle of Bugatti. Officially, 4 units of this car were built and have been kept by the owners for very long period of times. However, nowadays most purists will say there are only TWO « real original ones » left: Ralph Lauren’s black one (I failed to see it during an expo in Paris – silly me), and the Mullin Automotive Museum’s metallic blue one (this is the one I had the extreme privilege of seeing). The third one is considered a « rebuild », which sees its value drop significantly (still, it probably remains a 20 million USD car lol).
Considering there aren’t many units and not a lot of movement, it is hard to pin-point their true value. Peter Mullin’s was reportedly bought for a whopping +43 million USD a few years ago. It is notoriously known Ralph Lauren isn’t interested in selling his cars: he doesn’t need the money, and plans to make a museum in his legacy. But I have heard that the demand is so high for those cars, some collectors would be willing to go as high up as 70/80 million USD. I’ve ever heard 100 million price rumours. But then again, they’re just talks… I guess we’ll find out if one of those ever come on the market.
#3 – The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR « 722 » ( 40 million USD)
Forget your SLRs, and SLR 722 or SLR Stirling Moss (the car is an actual hommage to the 300SLR). This is wayyyyy different. There are quite a few 300SLR built by Mercedes-Benz, but as it is often the case, the big difference always lies in the sporting success of the car. This specific car is very famous for having raced (and won) in the famous « Mille Miglia » back in 1955, with Sir Stirling Moss and co-driver Denis Jenkinson behind the wheel. They completed the race in 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds with an average speed of 97,94mph (a record that stands to this day). Needless to say, this car is one of the most iconic race cars in the world and a much desired and sought-after model. BTW, if you’re wondering what the 722 stands for, it’s the assigned starting time of the car for the race, 7:22 am.
Some say the value of 722 is inestimable nowadays, and Mercedes-Benz hasn’t sold the car to anyone. However, it is commonly accepted that the car is valued at more or less $40 million USD. Who would’ve guessed a Mercedes would be all the way up there on the list of the most expensive car in the world? After all, they are dominating F1 as of today (2016), which comes to show they haven’t lost their heritage!
There are countless other VERY valuable cars out there:
- 1956 Ferrari 290 MM Scaglietti Spider (28,050,000 $ USD)
- 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Tre Posti Speciale (23,500,000 $ USD)
- 1954 Jaguar D-Type (21,780,000 $ USD)
Why are we so fascinated with PRICE?
If you’ve been hanging on the internet for quite a while, you know top fives and lists are very common. It is a simple yet effective manner to present information. More often than not, there is a lot of « click-bait » going on, but that’s a whole other story. We want to know the superlatives. I believe it is reassuring and makes us feel knowledgeable to be able to put an image/a name on something that is supposed to represent the « best of the best » in its category.
Furthermore, humans have always had that strange and odd fascination with everything that is expensive. It’s not so much the thing itself, but it’s what it represents. It gives you a whole new look on things and lets you dwelve into another dimension that is so far away from most people’s reality. We can’t possibly comprehend, therefore we fantasize and we take our own points of references to try and grasp the astronomic amounts. For example, when I see a 400k watch, I don’t think of it as having an expensive watch on your wrist, but as having a small parisian appartment on your wrist.
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