With sales from the major automotive auction houses in 2013 going over $1 Billion in sales, we thought we would take a look back at the Top 10 Car Auction Sales to ever happen in a public setting. Below are those cars that brought the most money sold through Bonhams, RM and Gooding from 2008 to 2013. It’s a telling indicator of where the market is that all 10 have come within the last 6 years and 2014 looks set to break even more records than ever before.
The top-selling car at all the Pebble Beach auctions in 2012, this Special Roadster was owned by a German Baroness who drove it while hiding out in Switzerland during World War II. She owned this car until she died in 1989 but for the last 40 years of that time it sat in a Connecticut garage. Once it was brought out, new owners treated it to a thorough restoration.
This was one of three 340/375 MM Ferraris entered in the 1953 24 Hours of LeMans race. It also raced at the 24 Hours of Spa, the Carrera Panamericana, and it won the 12 Hours of Pescara. Having been altered numerous times during its life, this car was recently restored to its original 1953 LeMans appearance.
This Mercedes-Benz race car sold at an auction in England last Summer for the highest price ever paid for any car at a public auction. It was part of a group of racecars that won 9 World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix races in 1954 and ’55. Driven by the legendary Argentinian-born driver Juan Manuel Fangio, this car, in particular, won two of those races.
Testa Rossa means “red head” and refers to the color paint used on the cam covers atop the engines. This particular one was the fourth Testa Rossa made and only the second delivered to a customer. It was raced extensively in South America and the United States.
This was the first 250 Testa Rossa built. Powered by a 300-horsepower V12 engine, it was driven by some of the top drivers of its time during an eight-year racing career.
This car was displayed at the 1960 Chicago Auto Show. It’s one of just nine alloy-bodied long wheelbase California Spiders. Ordinarily, California Spiders were built for street driving but this particular one came equipped for the track.
This short wheelbase California Spyder was once owned by the actor James Coburn who had it improved by the renowned Hollywood performance tuner Max Balchowsky. It’s powered by a 280 horsepower V12 engine.
This was one of Ferrari’s first mid-engined cars. It finished first in its class at the Daytona 24 hour race. RM Auction’s catalog for the 2013 “Art of the Automobile” sale described this one as “An Italian operatic masterpiece of sound and color.”
This 300-horsepower V12 Ferrari sold for the highest price ever paid for a Ferrari at auction. That’s saying a lot, since Ferraris are very valuable cars. It’s the second-highest amount ever paid for any publicly auctioned car, period. This Ferrari had been kept in the same family since it was new and all of the proceeds from the sale went to charity.
This was the most money ever paid for an American car at auction. This was one of three lightweight GT40s built and one of only two that still survive. Beyond its strong racing history, this GT40 was also used as a camera car for the Steve McQueen film “LeMans.” The strong collectible value of Ford GT40s has rubbed off on its successor, the 2005 and 2006 Ford GT supercars which also retain surprising value.