1. Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti
It didn’t quite beat the benchmark set by the 250 GTO, but the Scaglietti still went for more than $35,000,000 at the beginning of 2016 and is currently the most expensive racing car that has ever been sold. The particular car that went under the hammer had a unique provenance, often the key to record prices. It was driven by Mike Hawthorn in the 1957 Le Mans 24 Hours and in the Mille Miglia by Wolfgang von Trips.
2. Mercedes W196
The top 10 is dominated by Italian cars and Ferrari in particular, but here is a notable German interloper from the golden age of the ‘Silver Arrows’. When it was sold for $29,600,000 in 2013 this Mercedes was the most expensive car in the world, before being supplanted by the GTO. Again, the key to the value of this W196 was its history: it won two grands prix in 1954 driven by none other than Juan Manuel Fangio.
3. Ferrari 290 MM
As the name suggests, this was built for the 1956 Mille Miglia, and it was also driven by Fangio, which is what helped to make it worth $28,050,000. Rarity is also a key driver of cost: while 39 GTOs were made during the production run, for example, just four examples of the 290 MM ever left Maranello.
4. Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S NART Spider
Amazingly, Enzo Ferrari never travelled to America: the country that revered his cars like no other. But Ferrari was present through its NART (North America Racing Team) subsidiary: the only Ferraris ever to race in blue. NART also sold limited-edition road cars from the factory, and this particular car – one of only 10, auctioned for $27,500,000 – was once owned by Steve McQueen.
5. Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale
The 275 was probably Ferrari’s most illustrious car, having triumphed in events as diverse as Le Mans and the Mille Miglia. But what made the car that sold for $26,400,000 in 2014 (the height of the classic car bubble) so special was the fact that it was never actually raced. As such it’s a true one-off time warp: a factory fresh racing car from the 1960s.
6. Jaguar D Type
Britain is one of the heartlands of motorsport, but this is the only British car that makes it into the top 10. The Jaguar D Type won Le Mans three times on the trot from 1955 to 1957, and the car sold for $21,780,000 was the one that won in 1956 with the famous Ecurie Ecosse team. On this occasion, a bidding war pushed the price up: one of the main reasons behind record-breaking auction numbers.
7. Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider
One of the most beautiful cars ever made, this coach-built special (with only 12 produced) was based on the ultra-successful 8C, which also used Pirelli Stelvio tyres when it was new. It was built by Touring in Italy and proved to be as prominent in the auction house as it was on the road, raising $19,800,000.
8. Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider
This icon was sold for $18,500,000 in 2015 as a completely original car that had been forgotten for many years following the death of a French collector. Even restored cars are commanding a similar price level today: one car was recently offered for sale in the United Kingdom for £11,000,000. Given that most classic car prices have dropped considerably over the last few years, that’s a remarkable achievement.
9. Ferrari 375 Plus Spider Competizione
The 375 Plus was one of Ferrari’s best-known racing cars, winning at Le Mans with Pirelli in 1954, courtesy of Maurice Trintignant and Frolian Gonzalez, as well as on the epic Carrera Panamericana in Mexico. But this particular example, sold for $18,400,000 in 2014, finished second in the 1954 Mille Miglia.
10. Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione
A close relative of the SWB road car, this car was lightened for motorsport and also re-engineered to provide maximum stability on the race track. Only nine of these alloy-bodied cars were made, helping to ensure that this concours-winning example with documented race history sold for $18,150,000.