Asset Adrenaline: The Most Expensive Cars And Their Jawdropping Price Tags
Iconic cars like the 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti, Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, and Bugatti La Voiture Noire demonstrate why the most expensive cars could be worthy investments.
Updated Apr 6, 2023
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The most expensive cars are masterpieces—exhilarating to drive and retaining their value over time. Luxury manufacturers usually offer limited edition high-priced models, encompassing classic and vintage cars all the way to cutting-edge hypercars. These automobiles are artistic creations, boasting premium features, optimal performance, and safety.
Unlike regular models, high-end cars are usually exclusive, with outrageous features and technological wizardry. The global luxury car market size was $540 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $1.03 trillion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 6.6% from 2022 to 2031—largely due to the increasing demand for luxury automobiles.
The most expensive car ever sold is the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe Prototype, which was auctioned for a staggering $142 million in 2022.
You’d have to dish out $12.8 million to make the Sweptail yours, making it one of the most expensive automobiles on the market.
Several other Ferraris have fetched high prices at auctions—the 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti sold for $37.5 million, and the 1962-63 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta sold for $70 million. These cars were sold at auction houses such as RM Sotheby’s, Rick Cole Auctions, RM Auctions, Artcurial, and Bonhams.
The best luxury automobiles offer exceptional niceties like heated steering wheels, advanced safety features, entertainment systems, and built-in seat massagers.
While it’s easy to assume that high price tags determine the most expensive cars, it’s actually more nuanced. The most valuable cars boast cutting-edge specifications, have sophisticated design, are rare, and highly-sought after by the highest echelon of automotive aficionados.
Why are some cars so expensive?
Why are some cars so expensive?
Elite cars outshine ordinary automobiles with their extensive array of upscale features. Their lavish interiors and cutting-edge systems justify the steep price tag. Offering a unique meld of technology, comfort, and elegance, these cars deliver an unparalleled driving experience—and their stunning appearance never fails to impress.
When you buy a luxury car, you're not just getting from one point to another, you're getting an entire experience. Luxury cars provide an enhanced road experience that you just can't get in an economy car, and you get a feeling of achievement every time you sit behind the wheel.
High-end cars have a quality fit and finish that’s executed at a higher level with more care put into the construction and materials. Higher-skilled labor is usually required to manufacture a few units of luxury cars, making them more valuable and sought-after than economical types.
The world's most expensive cars are symbols of luxury. And unlike regular cars, high end automobiles values trend over time with proper maintenance, making them a potentially rewarding investment.
Most expensive cars in the world
Most expensive cars in the world
Investing in the most expensive cars presents an enjoyable and intriguing opportunity. As a prospective investor, always gather vital information on the luxury car's initial condition, serial numbers, maintenance records, bodywork, aesthetics, competitive history, and past ownership before making a decision.
Vintage cars—aged 20 years or older—can be gratifying investments, but it's essential to carefully assess the potential risks and returns before venturing into this market.
The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, worth $142 million in 2022 is the most expensive car ever sold.
Owning an investment car offers a degree of portfolio diversification. But if you’re not into the idea of collecting and maintaining a car, you can invest in car stocks like the electric car company Tesla. However, any profits made on the sale of car stocks are subject to capital gains tax.
There is no doubt that all cars can depreciate in value over time. But luxury cars usually pay off since they tend to hold their value much longer than standard cars. They also have higher resale values—up to 75% of their initial cost.
Collectible cars and other luxury cars take a certain amount of care and effort. The car must be serviced and maintained regularly, stored in a secure location, and driven as little as possible. An updated service history document is required, and with these cars come high storage and insurance costs, so potential investors should think carefully before jumping in with both feet.
We present a curated list of the eight most expensive cars worldwide, highlighting their exceptional performance, rarity, and remarkable features that make them worthy investment choices.
1. 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO
- Price Range: $52 million to $70 million
- Highest Sale Price: $70 million
- Supply: 36
- Type: Sportscar
The 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO dominated the World Manufacturer’s Championship in 1962 and fetched $70 million in 2018.
The legendary 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO is not only revered for its stunning aesthetics, but its captivating history contributes to its immense worth.
A small team led by Giotto Bizzarrini developed the Ferrari 250 GTO while Carrozzeria Scaglietti designed the supercar, giving it the renowned sports car design and aluminum body.
In the 1962 season, the 250 GTO dominated the World Manufacturer’s Championship, scoring maximum points in the Division III Championship for sports cars over two liters. It also placed second and third overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and left the governing body with a dilemma as to whether the Ferrari is a real GT car. It was declared legal due to its “normal evolution of the type”.
The 250 GTO was based on the 250 GT Racing chassis and featured a Tipo 168/62 Comp V12 engine. It also had a chassis upgraded with Koni adjustable shock absorbers, a dry-sump lubrication system, a stiffer suspension, and a lower drive line.
The car was tested by Stirling Moss, Willy Mairesse, Lorenzo Bandini, and Giancarlo Baghetti before its release at Ferrari's 1962 press conference.
Between 1962 and 1964, only 36 Ferrari 250 GTOs were produced to race in 24-hour Le Mans and other high-profile European races. In the late 1960s, the base price of the car decreased significantly to $2,500 but recaptured its value by 1975, when it sold for $48,000.
Throughout the 1980s, the car’s worth continued to rise, reaching $180,000 in 1980 and peaking at $650,000 in 1985. Later in 1989, the car sold for a record-breaking $10 million, the highest it has ever been sold for.
The 250 GTO was made even more valuable when Derek Hill, the son of Formula One Champ Phil Hill, drove it in multiple endurance races and described the experience as “a certain kind of ecstasy.”
The heightened demand for this remarkable automobile is further bolstered by its sleek, fastback body, which bears resemblance to the Jaguar E-Type's front design. Additionally, features like the wooden Nardi steering wheel and the Borletti/Veglia 10,000 rpm tachometer in the binnacle make the 250 GTO an extraordinary blend of elegance and prowess.
2. 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti
- Price Range: $30 million to $34 million
- Highest Sale Price: $35.9 million
- Supply: 4
- Type: Sportscar
The 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti is one of the rarest cars of all time, worth $35.7 million.
The 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti ranks among the most valuable cars ever and is an extremely rare find. Of the four 250 GTO models produced, one was destroyed, leaving just three in existence.
This highly-prized classic car was sold for a staggering $35.7 million at the 2016 Artcurial Motorcars Retromobile auction in Paris. The 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti boasts a 4.0L V-12 engine, generating 390 horsepower and reaching 7400 rpm—a remarkable achievement during its era.
The car was built specifically to replace predecessors such as the 290 MM. It was designed by Sergio Scaglietti and became a true feat of engineering with its sleek build and upgraded engine.
This stunning Ferrari had a short but remarkable racing history, driven to victory by Masten Gregory at the Cuban Grand Prix, and later rented by Gaston Andrey and Lance Reventlow. Its racing history ended tragically during the 1957 Mille Miglia due to a blown tire resulting in the death of 10 people.
Despite its unfortunate history, the 335 S's value has appreciated over time, and when Ferrari collector Pierre Bardinon acquired it, he declined numerous enticing offers to sell it. His passing in 2012 caused his collection to be broken up and the car was eventually auctioned off for $35,930,639 on February 5, 2016.
The 335 S's value soared when renowned drivers, such as Formula 1 greats Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss, took it for a spin.
3. Rolls Royce Boat-Tail
- Price Range: $25 million to $28 million
- Highest Sale Price: $28 million
- Supply: 3
- Type: Luxury car
The Roll-Royce Boattail is worth $28 million and has a unique nautical design inspired by the 1920’s Auburn 851 Speedster and Bentley Speed Six Boat-Tail.
Rolls-Royce's Boat Tail is an immensely valuable creation, a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that took two years to come to fruition. Stemming from an agreement between three wealthy clients who were in love with modern boats, this car was crafted by the exceptional design team led by Alex Innes of Rolls-Royce Coachbuild Design.
Rolls-Royce debuted the Boat Tail on May 27, 2021. It’s believed to be the most expensive luxury car to date, surpassing Bugatti’s La Voiture Noire at $18.7 million. The design is inspired by the 1920s Auburn 851 Speedster and Bentley Speed Six Boat-Tail.
The Rolls Royce Boat Tail boasts 19 feet of intricate design, six luxurious compartments, and 6.75 liters and V-12 engine capacity. It also has a mileage of 9.8 Kmpl, a maximum output of 453 horsepower at 5,350 rpm, and 531 ft-lb of torque at 3,500 rpm.
The Rolls Royce Boat Tail boasts 19 feet of intricate design, six luxurious compartments, and 6.75 liters and V-12 engine capacity. It also has a maximum output of 453 horsepower at 5,350 rpm and 531 ft-lb of torque at 3,500 rpm.
The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is a rear-wheel drive automobile with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a seating capacity of two. Rolls-Royce offers a bespoke experience where clients select a hand-painted color and get a painted Rolls-Royce pantheon grille, dual side-opening compartments, and an added parasol feature at the rear.
The Boattail's boot doors open up like butterfly wings.
At the push of a button, the butterfly-shaped deck elegantly unfurls, unveiling distinctive hosting amenities. A maritime theme accentuates the design, exemplified by the pantheon grille, as well as the deconstructed headlights and tail lights.
Incorporating opulent details like a BOVET 1822 timepiece, a Montblanc pen, and artisanal woods and metals, the Boat Tail pays tribute to the bygone era of fine coachbuilding.
In 2021, music power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z commissioned the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail for a remarkable $28 million. Their version includes lavish features such as a dual champagne refrigerator and a classic Rolls-Royce-inspired built-in umbrella at the rear, perfect for picnic outings.
Showcasing a meticulous selection of materials, elaborate craftsmanship, and awe-inspiring features, this bespoke automobile exemplifies Rolls-Royce's expertise and dedication to purpose-built design.
4. 1935 Duesenberg SSJ
- Price Range: $22 million
- Highest Sale Price: $22 million
- Supply: 2
- Type: Classic car
The 1935 Duesenberg SSJ is valued at $22 million, holding the 2018 Monterey Car Week auction record for the most expensive American car sold.
The 1935 Duesenberg SSJ, a true masterpiece, made history at the 2018 Monterey Car Week auction as the most expensive American car ever sold. With a remarkable value of $22 million, this exceptional automobilenot only exudes a rich heritage but also stands unparalleled as the priciest American car sold to date.
The timeless SSJ, a classic with a celebrated history, is distinguished by its short 125-inch wheelbase, potent 400-horsepower twin-cam inline-eight engine, and LaGrande coachwork.
It has a distinct look, one that has held its stature as a vintage-style stalwart in the automotive industry. What’s more, the SSJ was also ridden in by Hollywood royalty such as Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, and even Miles Collier—who had the car repainted from sand color to a dark-dark green with silver trimmings.
The SSJ’s rich history has elevated its desirability, ultimately leading to its 2018 appearance at the Gooding & Co. auction.
The 1935 Duesenberg SSJ, a collector's dream, holds potential for value appreciation and stands as a unique piece of American automotive history.
5. Bugatti La Voiture Noire
- Price Range: $12.5 million to $18 million
- Highest Sale Price: $18.7 million
- Supply: 1
- Type: Sportscar
Valued at $18.7 million, the La Voiture Noire pays tribute to the original Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe lost during World War II.
Bugatti La Voiture Noire is an impressive feat of engineering and artistry—a one-off sculpture designed by Bugatti’s Achim Anscheidt and his team. The Bugatti La Voiture Noire is strikingly beautiful and distinct from the regular Chiron. It’s designed as a minimalist coupe with a sleek black body, polished aluminum inlays, and uniquely designed lights with 25 milled elements per side.
Despite its limited space, the La Voiture Noire compensates with remarkable performance and speed. This 1500-horsepower beast features a W16 engine with four turbochargers and Bugatti's signature powertrain, enabling acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in just 3 seconds. However, Bugatti positions it primarily as a grand tourer rather than a hyper sports car.
To commemorate Bugatti's 110th anniversary, the La Voiture Noire was designed as a tribute to the original La Voiture Noire—a Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe from the 1930s.
Jean Bugatti personally designed and drove one of these classic cars. Sadly, one of the only four units ever made disappeared during World War II, and nowadays, car enthusiasts estimate its value to be over $100 million.
The sleek La Voiture Noire features not only a pointy nose and bug-like LED headlights but also six robust lined-up tailpipes inspired by the original model. Its unique rear light design is just one more reminder of the car’s history, as is the smooth, dorsal seam running down its centerline.
Before its sale to an unnamed Bugatti fan, La Voiture Noire went through the same thorough testing as any other Bugatti to ensure it met the highest standards. This amazing automobile perfectly combines the innovative work of the design team and the long-lasting tradition of the Bugatti family.
6. Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta
- Price Range: $17.6 million
- Highest Sale Price: $17.6 million
- Supply: 3
- Type: Race car
Valued at $17.6 million, the Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta features the exclusive Carbo-Triax HP52, making it lighter and more robust than comparable automobiles.
The Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta is a 'one-of-a-kind' automobile created in tribute to Horacio’s mentor, Juan Fangio, which is evident in the car’s design and quality of materials used. It also serves to commemorate the model that launched Horacio Pagani as a legend of the automotive industry.
Created by Pagani and his team as a 60th birthday gift for himself, this outstanding car serves as a fitting testament to his incredible accomplishments and further establishes his reputation as a leading figure in supercar design.
This car is designed to perfection with the use of cutting-edge technology. It has a 7.3-liter Mercedes AMG V12 engine giving off an unbelievable 790 horsepower and an impressive 221 mph top speed.
Outfitted with a monocoque chassis made from the Pagani-exclusive Carbo-Triax HP52, making the Zonda HP Barchetta lighter and stronger than other cars of its kind. It has a special custom-shaped wrap-around windscreen.
The Barchetta embodies a breathtaking masterpiece, skillfully marrying Pagani's signature style and Horacio's craftsmanship, culminating in the epitome of automotive perfection.
7. SP Automotive Chaos
- Price Range: $6.4 million to $14.4 million
- Highest Sale Price: $14.4 million
- Supply: 100
- Type: Race car
The SP Automotive Chaos is worth $14.4 million.
SP Automotive Chaos is a revolutionary automobile created by the award-winning designer Spyros Panopoulos in Athens, Greece. With its unique and captivating design, the name Chaos is apt for an ultra car of its caliber.
The beastly twin-turbo 4.0-liter V10 engine powers the car in two versions—Earth and Zero Gravity. Earth Version generates 2,049 hp and 1,025 lb-ft of torque, while Zero Gravity boasts an astounding 3,065 hp and 1,463 lb-ft of torque. This enables the car to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in just 1.55 seconds and 0 to 300 km/h (0-186 mph) in a mind-boggling 7.1 seconds.
But performance isn’t its only distinguishing feature. The Chaos is created with an aggressive design, F1-inspired aerodynamics, and 3D printing. Spyros Panopoulos utilized high-end luxury materials such as titanium, zylon, magnesium, and carbon fiber to provide a highly comfortable and stylish interior.
The exterior has a futuristic outlook—like something out of a sci-fi movie—with its sleek lines and aggressive silhouette.
The heavy price tag of the SP Automotive Chaos speaks to its quality and value. Prices start at $6.4 million for the Earth version and reach up to $14.4 million for the Zero Gravity model. Only 100 of these cars will be produced—20 for each continen—and will be sold exclusively by Sotheby’s.
For those in the market for an ultracar that's impressively engineered, aesthetically pleasing, and ahead of its time, look no further than Spyros Panopoulos’s SP Automotive Chaos.
8. Rolls-Royce Sweptail
- Price Range: $13 million
- Highest Sale Price: $13 million
- Supply: 1
- Type: Luxury car
The $13 million Rolls-Royce Sweptail is a limited-edition luxury car that draws inspiration from vintage yachts and the 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Aerodynamic Coupe.
The Rolls-Royce Sweptail is an awe-inspiring display of craftsmanship and design. You’d have to dish out $12.8 million to make the Sweptail yours, making it one of the most expensive automobiles on the market.
It was built for an unnamed individual who wanted his chosen model from the prestigious Rolls-Royce brand, and it was put on display on May 27th at the Concorso d'Eleganza at Villa d'Este.
The vision for this exclusive car was brought to life by Giles Taylor, the Director of Design at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, who spent four years carefully hand-crafting the Sweptail. Its distinctive external shape is truly eye-catching, and its interior is made of unrivaled luxury materials.
The car is yacht-inspired and comprised of a polished Macassar ebony, open-pore paldao accented with moccasin, and dark spice leather seating. In its center console lies a unique hand-built mechanism that grants the driver access to a pair of crystal glasses and chilled vintage champagne.
But that’s not all, as the Sweptail packs more than a few surprises. Its uninterrupted glass roof spans the full length of the cabin, granting its occupants spectacular daylight views that go above and beyond anything else a car can offer.
On the exterior, the Sweptail is truly spectacular. It’s crafted with a front grille made of solid aluminum—giving it a stunning mirror finish.
The Sweptail was crafted with inspiration from the 1925 Phantom I Round Door, the 1934 Phantom II Streamline Saloon, and the 1934 Gurney Nutting Phantom II Two Door Light Saloon.
This is one of the most exclusive cars in the world—powered by a 6.75 liter V12 engine giving off an impressive power output of 453 horsepower. It can reach a top speed of 155 mph.
The Rolls-Royce Sweptail is a luxurious and unique car that has been crafted with precision and attention to detail. It’s a symbol of luxury, exclusivity, and fine craftsmanship, and is a testament to the power of creativity.
Is an expensive car a good investment?
Is an expensive car a good investment?
Investing in high-priced cars, like luxury and classic automobiles, can be a smart decision for those who understand the automotive market's intricacies and have long-term investment goals.
Putting money into an expensive car isn't for everyone, as market fluctuations and meticulous maintenance demands can be challenging.
The value of classic cars depends on numerous factors, including rarity, distinctiveness, maker, production numbers, involvement in races or rallies, automobile age, and demand. As a collector, possessing a deep understanding and expertise is essential.
Investing in a mid-engine sports car not only fuels the thrill of driving but also transforms the journey into an artistic expression of speed and elegance.
If you prefer a more stable and lower-risk alternative to car collecting, you may want to diversify your portfolio by investing in car company stocks, equity shares, or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
That way, you’ll still get exposure to the automotive industry without the direct challenges associated with owning valuable automobiles. Diligently research and analyze potential investment opportunities to maximize your returns and manage risk.
The good news is, over the past decade, classic car appreciation rates have exceeded that of art, wine, and gold coins. Additionally, collector and investor interest has soared, making expensive cars a viable asset class.
Performance of the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index by asset classes for Q4 2004 to Q4 2014, with classic cars having almost 500% progress.
Luxury cars are increasingly becoming an attractive investment option, particularly for those seeking a top-tier automobile to enhance their lifestyle. High-end automobiles often boast superior quality, cutting-edge technology, and safety features. As the owner of one of the most expensive cars in the world, you’ll surely ride in comfort and style.
By diligently choosing a luxury car model with robust maintenance packages, investors can enjoy long-lasting value and an impeccable driving experience.
Leasing a luxury car is an optimal way to save money on the purchase and to drive a car more expensive than most people would be able to afford. Although paying insurance on a luxury automobile may seem pricey at first, it can be worth it in the long run—it’s something to take into account before investing.
It's important to remember, funds to purchase an expensive car should come from excess capital and the investment should fit into a diversified portfolio. While owning the most expensive car in the world could be cool, it shouldn’t be a central component of one’s portfolio since it’s riskier than most traditional investment assets.
Investing in classic cars often entails additional expenses for insurance, maintenance, and detailing, while time may take a toll on the vehicle. Procuring spare parts can also be costly.
View classic car investments as an alternative option due to potential fees and issues with parts that may diminish returns, and be aware that some automobiles might not yield the expected outcomes.
For those lacking the capital to invest in an expensive car, various financing options are available. Consider approaching credit unions, banks, or online lenders to obtain the necessary financial assistance for purchasing your desired exotic vehicle.
Investing in exclusive cars presents an opportunity for those with robust credit profiles. To qualify, individuals would need to have high credit scores, a history of comparable credit, and a demonstrated capacity for loan repayment. Typically, lenders require a minimum down payment of 20%—a potentially significant sum, given the substantial price tags of these luxury automobiles.
Some lenders may offer extended loan terms of up to 144 months as well, but they may also have higher interest rates. In terms of alternative options, you can also consider buying outright, leasing, or going with a subscription service that allows you to drive different cars for a given monthly fee.
Investing in alternative assets like expensive cars are an exciting and potentially lucrative opportunity for collectors and investors with a passion for automobiles.
In a market filled with contenders, the most valuable car brand will continuously uphold its reputation for luxury, performance, and quality. With careful research, market knowledge, and strong consideration of the financial implications, these investments can be part of a diversified portfolio that offers long-term financial gains.
However, investors must strike a balance between their passion for remarkable automobiles and the ability to navigate the risks and demands associated with owning such exceptional pieces of automotive history.