The 10 Most Expensive Cars Sold at Auction in 2019—So Far

We wondered where prices might be going. We have at least a partial answer.

When the 2019 auction season began in Scottsdale, Arizona, this past January, there was a fair amount of trepidation about where prices were headed. 2018 showed the first signs of a slowdown after years of meteoric gains in the collector-car market, and the big question was how much further valuations might slide in the new year. Larger political and economic questions regarding global trade and tariffs were also at the fore: How would new economic policy affect sales, especially at the sharp end of things?

While there has been a broad pullback in several areas of the market, especially the hot volume-production Ferrari and Porsche road-car segments, one thing is clear: The rarest cars with the best provenance still bring strong money, as illustrated by our list of the top 10 collector-car auction sales thus far in 2019. Looking closer at our list, we find that six of the top-10 sellers are Ferraris, which isn't a huge surprise, and six of our top-10 sellers were sold by RM Sotheby's—again, not a big surprise given its heavyweight status in the industry and large volume of auctions.

Notable is that while Gooding & Company sold two of our entries and Artcurial another two, Bonhams is nowhere to be seen after several dismal auctions this year resulting in big-dollar cars remaining unsold (the Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider offered in Scottsdale comes to mind). Bonhams entered new ownership under U.K.-based Epiris, a private equity firm, in 2018 and it's possible we could see the new owner shut down the automotive division as Christies auctions did with its automotive branch in the previous decade. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, as auction entries continue to be added for Monterey Car Week in August, it's likely that this list will change significantly by the time the year is through. Are there any consignments in Monterey that could dethrone 2019's top seller? So far that looks unlikely, but stay tuned to Automobile to find out. Now, on to the cars:

__________

1985 Ferrari 288 GTO, $3,360,000
RM Sotheby's, Scottsdale

The times, they are a-changin'. Once the cheapest of the Ferrari ultra-supercars, the best 288 GTOs are now three times what a great F40 brings. Relative rarity (272 built compared with more than 1,300 F40s) and a legendary race-turned-road development story are two reasons why.

__________

1956 Porsche 550 RS Spyder, $3,435,919
RM Sotheby's, Paris

While not as evolved as the 550A, this 550 RS Spyder nonetheless was very competitive in its time. This car ran at the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans—one of just 10 550s to have done so, though it did not finish the race.

__________

1957 Porsche 550A Spyder, $3,774,967
RM Sotheby's, Villa Erba

The 550A Spyder was Porsche's 'giant killer' in period, often besting cars with double the displacement on the race track. With a tube-frame chassis and four-wheel independent suspension, it was significantly more sophisticated than the earlier 550s.

__________

1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider, $4,153,220
RM Sotheby's, Villa Erba

Ferrari's four-cylinder Mondials were a huge boost to the brand's racing successes in the mid-1950s, and this 2.0-liter 500 Spider had the provenance to bring a strong winning bid after several other examples had failed to sell in recent auctions.

__________

1966 Serenissima Spyder, $4,786,229
Artcurial, Paris

A rare, tube-frame racer that ran in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans (DNF in the fifth hour), this little-known Serenissima's incredible originality and just-raced patina brought in big bids. The aesthetic similarity to Ferrari's far more expensive 275P sports racers didn't hurt either.

__________

__________

1953 Ferrari 250 MM Spider, $5,395,000
Gooding & Company, Scottsdale

One of a trio of solid vintage Ferrari results for Gooding in Scottsdale this January, this 250 MM Spider had racing history but no thumbs up from Ferrari Classiche. No matter, it sold well on its previous ownership with well-known collectors.

__________

1987 Ferrari F40 LM, $5,468,665
RM Sotheby's, Paris

If this Le Mans-spec F40 race car's winning bid doesn't convince you a new generation is entering the market, nothing will. This was an iconic race car and livery to a certain generation of bidder, and that bidder is only getting wealthier with age.

__________

1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF, $5,890,000
Gooding & Company, Scottsdale

This 250 GT Tour de France, chassis #1037 GT is the 19th of some 36 built and was, simply put, the car to own if you were a gentleman racer in the late 1950s. This one had some period race history and Classiche certification—the winning combo for high bids when dealing with vintage Ferrari racers.

__________

1963 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, $7,595,000
Gooding & Company, Scottsdale

250 GT SWB #4037 GT was a late-production, street-trimmed car—a 'Lusso,' or 'Luxury,' version—as opposed to the many built with racing in mind. With a Classiche Red Book and a history of well-known owners like actor Nicolas Cage, the price paid was a bargain compared to what the car may have brought in the heat of the 2015 market.

__________

1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta, $18,997,883
Artcurial, Paris

Those in the know say this 8C 2900 B sold for a bargain price for the breed; after all, it's a sister car to the 1937 example that is the current concours darling with recent Best of Show wins at both Pebble Beach and Villa d'Este along with the Best of the Best award in 2018.

Related Articles