The World’s Two Highest Selling Cars At Auction

If you’re looking for the world’s highest priced automobiles, 2013 was your year. The top two priced high end show car’s sold at auction this year. One in England and the other in Monterey California.

If you thought paying $30 million for an automobile at auction is spending a lot of money, it is. You may also think that $27 million might be a lot to pay as well. Those were the selling prices of the two highest cars ever sold at auction.

The $30 Million Mercedes-Benz Race Car

This car was sold at the Goodwood Festival of Speed Bonhams in 2013. The actual selling price was $29,619,000 which is certainly pretty close to $30 million. This represents the highest price ever paid for a car at auction and set a record. The Mercedes-Benz W196 was sold to a private buyer over the telephone.

Photo of Mercedes-Benz W196 taken in 1976. From Creative Common 2.0 Germany.
Photo of Mercedes-Benz W196 taken in 1976. From Creative Common 2.0 Germany.

The single seat car sold was a Mercedes-Benz W196 and there are thought to be ten still existing today. This particular race car was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio in Formula One racing. Fangio, from Argentina, drove this car fir victories in both the German and Swiss Grand Prix.

Chassis number of this car is chassis 00006/54. This chassis number is also the only one in private hands the others either owned by the company or displayed in museums.

The Mercedes W196 first came out for the for the Formula One 1954 French Grand Prix. The chassis is of a steel tubuler spaceframe, the body aluminum paneling and the transmission a five speed manual.

The Mercedes W196’s engine is a steel block head straight eight delivering 290 horsepower with Bosch Direct Fuel Injection.

Front suspension includes torsion bars, double wishbones and telescopic shock absorbers. Rear suspension includes longitudinal torsion bars, a swing axle and telescopic shocks.

The $27.5 Million Ferrari

The $27.5 Million Ferrari Convertible 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder sold at an auction held in Monterey in 2013 by RM Auctions. California. While the 1954 Mercedes-Benz race car sold for a few million dollars more, the sale of this Ferrari is considered the highest price paid at auction for a “road car”. This road car however which had been stored in an aircraft hanger for several years could also be easily raced at a track.

A Ferrari 275 GTB. Public domain photo.
A Ferrari 275 GTB. Public domain photo.

The Ferrari 275 GTB/4 was debuted at the Paris Auto Show in 1964. The Ferrari 275 NART Spyder model, first produced in 1967, was seen in the movie, The Thomas Crown Affair withSteve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. Steve McQueen himself was a car buff and was an owner of a Ferrari NART Spyder but apparently totaled his car.

This fascinating automobile is a front engine two seater vehicle. it’s transaxle mechanics mean that the transmission and rear axle are integrated. The Ferrari 275’s were the first of the company’s road cars with independent rear suspension. The car’s power plant is a 3.2 liter V-12.

The 275 NART Spyder, of which only ten were sent to the U.S. all went to the company’s North American importer, Luigi Chinetti. All ten were sold through his dealership. Interestingly enough, the ten cars Chinetti received from Ferrari were less than the number he asked for but it was reported that he actually had a difficult time selling the last few and had to discount the prices.

This car sold in Monterey California at auction during the annual Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance was a one owner vehicle. It was purchased new for possibly $14,000 by a man from North Carolina who owned two Ferrari cars previously but kept this NART Spyder until his death in 2007. It was reported that he was approached by a few interested buyers over the years but never sold the Ferrari.

This one of a kind Ferrari was sold at the RM auction on behalf of his family. Bidding for this vehicle started at $10 million.

It has also been reported that proceeds from the auction of the Ferrari were to be given to charity. While it’s often said that charity auctions tend to inflate the value of a collector car, many collectors don’t feel it did in this particular case. The car sold was one of the rarest built by Ferrari and one of a total of ten sent to the United States.

(Article copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline. Photo  of Mercedes W196 licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Germany. Author is Lothar Spurzem. Photo of Ferrari 275 GTB from the public domain)