This 1956 Ferrari has been driven by the biggest names from motor racing in the 1950s, namely Sir Stirling Moss and five-time Formula One champion, Juan Manuel Fangio
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It was confirmed last week that an exceptionally rare 1950s Mercedes-Benz had sold at a top-secret auction in Germany for a world record £115million.

Not only is that the most amount of money someone has ever paid for a vehicle at auction, it’s among the top 10 most expensive items to go under the hammer in history.

But how does it compare to other supremely-valuable vehicles to have gone to the block? Here’s our rundown of the most valuable motors sold when the hammer dropped in auction rooms… 

Prices converted from dollars to pounds at the time of sale.  

10. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM by Scaglietti – $22,005,000 (£17.3m)

Sold: 8 December 2018

Auction: RM Sotheby’s The Peterson Automotive Museum Auction in Los Angeles, US

This 1956 Ferrari has been driven by the biggest names from motor racing in the 1950s, namely Sir Stirling Moss and five-time Formula One champion, Juan Manuel Fangio

This 1956 Ferrari has been driven by the biggest names from motor racing in the 1950s, namely Sir Stirling Moss and five-time Formula One champion, Juan Manuel Fangio

The 290 MM was produced for the factory Ferrari racing team originally to compete at the iconic Mille Miglia road race in Italy. It is one of four examples built, and one of three to survive today

The 290 MM was produced for the factory Ferrari racing team originally to compete at the iconic Mille Miglia road race in Italy. It is one of four examples built, and one of three to survive today

Starting our list is a classic Ferrari. And it’s one with plenty of racing pedigree. The 290 MM was developed to compete in the 1956 World Sports Car Championship and the Mille Miglia, which is where the ‘MM’ name derives.

It scored a podium finished at the iconic Italian event in 1956 and was raced by the official Scuderia Ferrari team by Juan Manuel Fangio at the Swedish Grand Prix of 1956. 

It also placed third at the 1000KM of Buenos Aires before being bought by a privateer team a year later was won at the Nassau Trophy and Memorial race with Stirling Moss at the wheel.

This car – chassis 0628 – is the final of four examples built and among only three surviving today. It went under the hammer in LA in 2018, fetching a fraction over $22million.

9. 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 – $22,550,000 (£17.6m)

Sold: 18-19 August 2017

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey Sale in California, US

This 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 sold in 2017 for a staggering £17.6million. It remain today the most expensive British-built car to ever change hands at auction

This 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 sold in 2017 for a staggering £17.6million. It remain today the most expensive British-built car to ever change hands at auction

The DBR1 was built to be raced at Le Mans and also took victory at the 1959 1000km of Nürburgring but it is more importantly recongised for being the blueprint for Aston Martin's incredible DB series of road cars

The DBR1 was built to be raced at Le Mans and also took victory at the 1959 1000km of Nürburgring but it is more importantly recongised for being the blueprint for Aston Martin’s incredible DB series of road cars

This classic Aston Martin is another that was graced at the wheel by Sir Stirling Moss. In 2017 it became the most expensive British car after it was bought for £17.6million. 

The 1956 DBR1 was built to be raced at Le Mans and also took victory at the 1959 1000km of Nürburgring.

It is considered the ‘most important’ Aston Martin ever produced. That’s not entirely because of its racing achievements but because it became the blueprint for Aston’s successful DB series of cars, including the legendary DB5. That’s why it was such a priced piece of motoring history when it went to the block in 2017.

It was the headline lot at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale in California that year and drew a huge crowd as well as a winning bid so sizable it has yet to be surpassed for a British built vehicle to date.

8. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale by Scaglietti – $26,400,000 (£15.8m)

Sold: 15-16 August 2014

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey Sale in California, US

Just three 275GTB/C Speciale Ferraris were ever created by coachbuilding specialists Scaglietti. The other two aren't likely to be made available any time soon

Just three 275GTB/C Speciale Ferraris were ever created by coachbuilding specialists Scaglietti. The other two aren’t likely to be made available any time soon

The other two are said to be cherished by private collectors who have no intention to sell - that might explain why the interest was so high for this one back in 2014

The other two are said to be cherished by private collectors who have no intention to sell – that might explain why the interest was so high for this one back in 2014

This is where the onslaught of high-price Ferraris really kicks off. 

The 1964 275GTB/C Speciale was designed in a no-expense-spared bid to take on the Ford GT40 and Shelby Cobra Daytona at Le Mans. 

It was the first Ferrari to feature independent rear suspension and this example is the first edition of a production run of just three models spawned from the Maranello factory in Italy. 

The other two are said to be cherished by private collectors who have no intention to sell – that might explain why the interest was so high for this one back in 2014. It sold for a massive $26.4million in California in August that year.

7. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4/S N.A.R.T. Spider – $27,500,000 (£17.6m)

Sold: 17-18 August 2013

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey Sale in California, US

This 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4/S N.A.R.T. Spider became the most expensive model to be sold at auction when the hammer dropped in 2013. In the last nine years it has fallen to seventh place in the order of the priciest cars to go to the block

This 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4/S N.A.R.T. Spider became the most expensive model to be sold at auction when the hammer dropped in 2013. In the last nine years it has fallen to seventh place in the order of the priciest cars to go to the block

The fully restored example is one of only 10 highly desirable N.A.R.T. Spiders ever built. It was reported that the winning bidder was Aston Martin F1 team boss, Lawrence Stroll

The fully restored example is one of only 10 highly desirable N.A.R.T. Spiders ever built. It was reported that the winning bidder was Aston Martin F1 team boss, Lawrence Stroll

When this drop-top Ferrari went under the hammer in California in 2013 it became the most expensive car sold at auctions at the time. 

Yet the $27.5million price tag (£17.6million when converted to pounds at the time of the sale) has been eclipsed six times in the last nine years – a clear signal of how strong the classic car market has been.

It stood out for making an appearance in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair featuring Steve McQueen but also for being kept in single-ownership from new until the date of the then-record sale almost a decade ago.

The fully restored example is one of only 10 highly desirable N.A.R.T. Spiders ever built. It was reported at the time of the event that the winning bidder was billionaire Canadian fashion entrepreneur and Aston Martin Formula One team boss Lawrence Stroll.

6. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM by Scaglietti – $28,050,000 (£18.5m)

Sold: 10 December 2015

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Driven by Disruption sale in New York, US

The 1956 Ferrari 290 MM is an ex-works racer built for Formula One racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio as the Italian brand looked to take the fight to Mercedes-Benz at the Mille Miglia

The 1956 Ferrari 290 MM is an ex-works racer built for Formula One racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio as the Italian brand looked to take the fight to Mercedes-Benz at the Mille Miglia

It sold in 2015 for $28,050,000 (£18.5million) and remains the most expensive motor car to change hands in New York

It sold in 2015 for $28,050,000 (£18.5million) and remains the most expensive motor car to change hands in New York

The 1956 Ferrari 290 MM is an ex-works racer. Chassis 0626 was built for Formula One racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio as the Italian brand looked to take the fight to Mercedes-Benz at the Mille Miglia. 

With the five-time F1 champion at the wheel, it placed fourth – the number 458 sister car driven by Eugenio Castellotti took the win. 

The car went on to compete for nine years and records show it was never crashed – a remarkable achievement for a competition machine in one of the most dangerous eras of motorsport. The fact it was never wrecked is also fortunate given that only four were ever made. 

It sold in New York in 2015 to a hat-trick of accolades, becoming the most expensive car sold in 2015, the most valuable motor to ever change hands in New York and RM Sotheby’s priciest lot at the time.

5. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 – $29,600,000 (£19.6m)

Sold: 12 July 2013

Auction: Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale, Chichester, UK

The Mercedes-Benz W196 Grand Prix car was the standout lot in the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed sale

It remains today the most valuable motor sold at auction in Britain with bidding closing at almost £20million

The Mercedes-Benz W196 Grand Prix car was the standout lot in the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed sale and remains today the most valuable motor sold at auction in Britain with bidding closing at almost £20million

This incredible Silver Arrows was raced by Juan Manuel Fangio, taking the chequered flag at both the Swiss and German Grand Prix in 1954. 

The Mercedes-Benz W196 Grand Prix car was the standout lot in the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed sale and remains today the most valuable motor sold at auction in Britain with bidding closing at almost £20million.

When it went to the block it was in period condition – that includes every visible blemish, dirt and tyre rubber from its last appearance on the track.

4. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti – $35,730,510 (£24.7m)

Sold: 5 February 2016

Auction: Artcurial Retromobile Sale, Paris, France

When this Ferrari sold in 2016, Artcurial thought it had set a new record to become the most expensive motor to go via auction...

When this Ferrari sold in 2016, Artcurial thought it had set a new record to become the most expensive motor to go via auction…

The auction house believed it to be a new record when the hammer dropped at just over €32million. Artcurial even created a special hashtag on Twitter at the time - but once converted to dollars it fell short of the top spot

The auction house believed it to be a new record when the hammer dropped at just over €32million. Artcurial even created a special hashtag on Twitter at the time – but once converted to dollars it fell short of the top spot

Many argue that had the exchange rate of the euro been better at the time, this could have taken the title as the most expensive car sold at auction.

The 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport by Scaglietti – as well as being drop-dead gorgeous – had set record times at Le Mans and competed in the original Mille Miglia rally.

Artcurial believed it had set a new record when the hammer dropped at just over €32million – even creating a special hashtag on Twitter at the time – but once converted to dollars it fell short of the top spot.

3. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO -$38,115,000 (£ 30.3m)

Sold: 14 August 2018

Auction: Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction, California, US

This Ferrari 250 GTO sold by Bonhams in 2014 was the most expensive car to ever sell at auction for the best part of four years

It was offered to a private buyer for the first time in half a century, having been kept in one family's ownership for 49 years

This Ferrari 250 GTO sold by Bonhams in 2014 was the most expensive car to ever sell at auction for the best part of four years. It was offered to a private buyer for the first time in half a century, having been kept in one family’s ownership for 49 years

This Ferrari was the most expensive car to ever sell at auction for the best part of four years.

Sold for $38,115,000 during the summer 2014, the 250 GTO was offered to a private buyer for the first time in half a century, having been kept in one family’s ownership for 49 years. While that’s a hell of a lot of money to splurge on four wheels, it’s still not enough to make it the most valuable car of all time.

It was built to contest the 1963 FIA World GT Championships. Not only did it take part, but it took the crown that year and is considered one of the most-race and best-known 250 GTOs of all time. 

2. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO -$48,405,000 (£37.5m)

Sold: 24-25 August 2018

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey Sale in California, US

The former priciest model to go under the hammer was another Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962 - this one sold during Monterey car week by RM Sotheby's in 2018

The former priciest model to go under the hammer was another Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962 – this one sold during Monterey car week by RM Sotheby’s in 2018 

Chassis number 3413 GT is one of the earliest made. It was the third 250 GTO to ever leave the Maranello production line, though it's widely believed that all 36 examples remain in existence today and has a glittering racing history

Chassis number 3413 GT is one of the earliest made. It was the third 250 GTO to ever leave the Maranello production line, though it’s widely believed that all 36 examples remain in existence today and has a glittering racing history

The former priciest model to go under the hammer was another Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962 – this one sold during Monterey car week by RM Sotheby’s in 2018 and has held the crown as the most valuable auction vehicle in the world until this month (May 2022).

Chassis number 3413 GT is one of the earliest made. It was the third 250 GTO to ever leave the Maranello production line, though it’s widely believed that all 36 examples remain in existence today and has a glittering racing history. It’s also another example that boasts it was never spearheaded bumper first into a crash barrier during its circuit exploits.

It achieved a staggering $48.4million at the Monterey auction during America’s biggest motor meet, which is double the price of the sister car it replaced at the top of the all-time auction sale standings.

1. 1955 Mercedes 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe – $142,000,000 (£115m)

Sold: 5 May 2022

Auction: RM Sotheby’s secret auction at Mercedes Museum, Stuttgart, Germany

This 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was sold to a private collector at a top-secret RM Sotheby's auction hosted at Mercedes' museum in Germany on 5 May 2022

This 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was sold to a private collector at a top-secret RM Sotheby’s auction hosted at Mercedes’ museum in Germany on 5 May 2022

For years, collectors have debated if Mercedes-Benz would ever let either of the two 300 SLR Coupes out of the company's ownership and sell it to a private buyer. This is what has driven the monumental price tag for this very special car

For years, collectors have debated if Mercedes-Benz would ever let either of the two 300 SLR Coupes out of the company’s ownership and sell it to a private buyer. This is what has driven the monumental price tag for this very special car 

Auction house RM Sotheby’s confirmed last week that it sold a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes for $142,000,000 (£115million), making it the most valuable car changing hands at auction – and by some distance.

The sale price was almost three times the previous record. 

The one-of-two examples created was bought by a private collector – with the winning bid placed on their behalf by a British classic car expert – at a top-secret auction hosted at Mercedes’ museum in Germany on 5 May.

RM Sotheby’s said the car has ‘always been regarded as one of the great jewels of motoring history’ and its sale is a monumental moment with few ever imagining that it would be offered to a private buyer by the German manufacturer. 

> Read our in-detail report on the Mercedes sale here 

*Prices converted from US dollars to pound sterling at the time of sale  

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