8 of the World's Most Expensive Classic Cars

November 15, 2018
Written by Sarah Holt

In 2019, one of the world’s most expensive car events – the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este – will blow out the candles on its 90th birthday cake. Launched in 1929 and revived in the 1990s the elite event sees the owners of the globe’s most sought-after vintage vehicles gather on the shores of Lake Como to celebrate the charisma of collectable cars.

Prizes are handed out in classes such as ‘From Manhattan to Mayfair: The Golden Age of Motoring’, and the benchmark is set for what qualifies as the most superior set of wheels in the world. 

Here are a few of the most expensive vintage cars to keep an eye out for if you want to be a contender in the 2019 event.

Ferrari 250 GTO


The original buyers of Ferrari 250 GTOs had to be personally approved by Enzo Ferrari before they were given the green light to purchase the car. Only 36 models were ever made and, of those, only a handful had series two bodywork. A product of the 1960s, each car had Monroe curves and most came with Ferrari’s trademark lipstick red paintwork. In June 2018 a 1964 version of the car was rumoured to have reached $70 million at private action, making it the most expensive classic car in the world sold privately. Two months later, chassis number 3413 sold for $48.4 million at a public auction.

Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti

Ferrari_335_S_Spider Scaglietti_Classic_Car

Reaching speeds of up to 300 kilometres an hour, 1957/58 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scagliettis were the car of choice for some of the world’s greatest historical racing drivers. Only four were ever produced, though, so they’re rare as four-leaf clovers. That’s not to say they never come up for sale, though. In 2016 a 1957 scalietti sold for $32 million euros at an auction in Paris.

Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic


More than 700 Bugatti Type 57s were crafted in the 1930s and 1940s. However, only four of them were Type 57S Atlantics. Today, one of the three surviving models belongs to fashion heavyweight Ralph Lauren. It’s tar-black with wave-like lines and the designer describes it as ‘moving art’. The most recent sale of a Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic took place in California in 2010, when a 1936 model sold for $30 million.

Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider


Described as the Ferrari 250 GTO of its time, the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider is a peerless piece of engineering. With its tuxedo-black paint work and Italian tailored interior it’s more than a little easy on the eye as well. It’s thought that just 12 touring Spiders exist in the world today, meaning models are pretty rare. The last one came up for auction at Sotheby’s Monterrey in 2016 and sold for $19.8 million.

Rolls-Royce Phantom IV State Landaulette


Compared to the likes of the Ferrari 250 GTO and the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, Rolls-Royce Phantom IV State Landaulettes are among the most expensive cars in the world and sell for spare change – the usual auction price hovers around $1 million. What gives this model a little je ne sais quois, however, is the fact that Rolls Royce only ever intended these cars to belong to royalty and heads of state. In fact, the Queen of England sold her own in summer 2018 for $2.6 million.

Aston Martin DP215


When the Aston Martin DP215 no longer exists, people will still be able to read about it in the history books. This car reached the fastest speed ever recorded by a front engine vehicle on the old course at Le Mans. Only one was ever produced so it’s got near-mythical status in the classic car world. With its olive green paintwork, it looks like it’s been pulled from a classic James Bond novel. It last went on sale at Sotheby’s in Monterey California in August 2018, where it sold for almost $19 million.

Aston Martin DBR1


The Aston Martin DBR1 is another one-of-a-kind creation from Aston Martin. Like the DP215 it has also gone down in the history books for being one of only three cars in the 1950s to win both the World Sports Car Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours in the same year. Frog-green with a grill that resembles the mouth of a koi carp, it’s a classic car with character. It last went on sale at Sotheby’s in Monterey California in 2017 and sold for $22.550 million.

1962 Shelby 260 Cobra CSX 2000


With its gas flame-blue paintwork and wide eyed headlights, the original Shelby Cobra sold for $13.75 million when it last came up for auction in Monterey California in August 2016. Of course, this model was inimitable because it was the first of its kind to ever be made by car designer Carroll Shelby. Other models such as the Cobra 427 and the Supersnake fetch figures closer to 3 million when they come up for auction.

Rolls-Royce image courtesy of Top Speed, Ferrari GTO image courtesy of One Million Pound Blog, Bugatti image courtesy of New Car Design, remaining car images courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.