It’s been a big year for classic-car auctions. Numerous records have been set and then re-set, including the most valuable car ever sold at auction: the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that RM Sotheby’s hammered sold in Monterey at $48,405,000 this past August. Below are the top 10 most valuable cars sold at auction in 2018, and you’ll notice that even the lest pricey cars on the list just dip into the $5 million range. It would take tens of additional vehicles to even begin to explore sub-$1 million territory, showing that the upper end of the market is still relatively strong.
It’s also worth noting that Canadian auction house RM Sotheby’s isn’t just responsible for the top two sellers on our list, it lays claim to fully half of them, with California-based Gooding & Company and U.K.-headquartered Bonhams picking up the remaining five cars between them. RM Sotheby’s reported that it sold $423 million in cars and memorabilia this year, while rival Gooding & Company sold some $201 million. Bonhams has not yet released its annual sales total.
We’re already looking forward to hitting the ground in Scottsdale in January, where we’ll bring you auction reports live from the biggest sales.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO | $48,405,000 | RM Sotheby’s, Monterey
A top price for a legendary car and one of just 33 ever built. While this particular GTO’s in-period re-body to Series 2 coachwork likely brought its value down by some 20 percent, there’s no doubting that any 250 GTO is a grade-A collectible. [Read more]
1956 Ferrari 290 MM | $22,005,000 | RM Sotheby’s, Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles
As an ex-Scuderia Ferrari team car and having been driven by such motorsports royalty as Phil Hill, Olivier Gendebien and Peter Collins), this 290 MM was a late, but high-dollar entry to RM Sotheby’s 2018 results. [Read more]
1935 Duesenberg SSJ | $22,000,000 | Gooding & Company, Pebble Beach
An American car on our top 10 auction sales list? You betcha. This Duesenberg SSJ is one of just two ever commissioned and its first owner was actor Gary Cooper. Legend has it that when Clark Gable saw Cooper’s SSJ, he had to have one for himself and that’s how the second car was built. The SSJ was essentially a 1930s supercar and this one is the most valuable American car ever sold at auction.
1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype | $21,455,000 | RM Sotheby’s, Monterey
Though Aston’s one-off DP215 prototype wasn’t as successful in period as the British automaker would have liked, it was a very quick car and easily topped the quickest Ferraris in the early laps of the ’62 24 Hours of Le Mans with American Phil Hill behind the wheel before suffering a mechanical DNF. Not only did it set a new record for most valuable Aston ever auctioned, it set the record for most valuable British car ever sold at auction. [Read more]
1961 Aston Martin MP209 DB4GT Zagato ‘2 VEV’ | $13,302,239 | Bonhams, Goodwood Festival of Speed
Another strong result for an Aston Martin one-off racer, this MP209 was driven by the likes of Jim Clark at Goodwood. A Ferrari 250 GTO competitor in its day, this Zagato-bodied lightweight prototype (with British registration ‘2 VEV’) briefly was the most valuable Aston Martin ever sold at auction until the later sale of the DP215. Who knew cars liked playing leapfrog? [Read more]
1966 Ford GT40 Mk II | $9,795,000 | RM Sotheby’s, Monterey
The third-place finisher in Ford’s 1-2-3 sweep of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, this GT40 is really a piece of motorsports history on wheels. It’s also been raced at the Le Mans Classic in recent years and joined its fellow ’66 Le Mans finishers at the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Élégance in 2016. The GT40 is also the second American car on our list this year. [Read more]
1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Speciale | $8,085,000 | Gooding & Company, Scottsdale
An early styling prototype built by Pininfarina, there are subtle differences between this 275 GTB and the production versions that were built at Scaglietti shortly thereafter, including the rear diffuser that looks almost modern. It served duty on the auto-show circuit, was likely used for a while as Pininfarina founder Battista Pininfarina’s daily driver, and ultimately made its way to Gooding & Company’s 2018 Scottsdale auction, where it brought about four times what a standard 275 GTB commands. [Read more]
1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF | $6,600,000 | Gooding & Company, Pebble Beach
The fourth Ferrari on our top 10 list, this 250 GT Tour de France was named after the famous Tour de France road race, which the model won four consecutive times between 1956 and 1959. Known to be much easier and more friendly to drive than many of its period rivals, the 250 GT TdF continues to be one of Ferrari’s most desired models. [Read more]
1985 Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar | $5,945,000 | RM Sotheby’s, Porsche 70th Anniversary Sale, Atlanta
The Porsche 959 is the most modern car to make our 2018 auction toppers by some 19 years, but you can expect to see more of these “young timer” classics bring big money in the coming decade. This car brought several times the value of a standard roadgoing 959 as one of the factory development mules entered in the famous Paris-Dakar rally. It was sold at a Porsche exclusive sale to celebrate the marque’s 70th anniversary. [Read more]
1932 Alfa Romeo Tipo B Grand Prix Monoposto | $5,822,789 | Bonhams, Goodwood Festival of Speed
Prewar Alfa Romeos are very special cars in that they were largely hand-built and custom-ordered machines from before the company’s postwar series-production days. Monopostos—“single-seaters”—are even more so. This Tipo B Grand Prix car dates to the days when a young Enzo Ferrari managed Alfa’s competition department and is one of the brand’s most lusted after models. It’s also guarantees instant acceptance at just about any of the most prestigious vintage-racing events in the world.