In the 2019 film Ford v Ferrari, the U.S. triumphed over Italy.
When it comes to resale, though, it’s a different story.
Eight Ferraris are among the 15 most expensive cars ever sold at auction, and for one reason: racing prowess. Other cars may be prettier, more visionary, and even faster. But if they don’t win when it counts, their value suffers.
In the classic car market, earning Formula One trophies is what matters. And even though Porsche has won the Le Mans more times than any other model, they’ve been mass-marketed, so they’re less rare—and therefore less desirable—than Ferraris.
You may know which luxury vehicle brands are legendary for retaining their value and which names have been pivotal in classic car history. It was Lamborghini who invented the concept of the supercar, after all. But it didn’t manage to squeeze into a spot up near Ferrari at auction.
The list of most expensive cars includes Mercedes-Benz, McLaren, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Jaguar, and a 1935 Duesenberg owned by film star Gary Cooper, which went for $22 million.
Those are the exceptions. Ferrari is the rule. These cars broke records at public auction:
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
Final price: $48,405,000
Owned by vintage racer Gregory Whitten, chassis number 3413 GT was out of reach for two decades. In 2018, it was driven to the auction block by five-time Le Mans-winning driver Derek Bell. Bidding opened at $35 million.
Within 10 minutes, three bidders drove up the price until the gavel fell—at a price that broke the previous record by $10 million.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
Final price: $38,115,000
That’s not a misprint.
It’s the same as the Ferrari that claimed the top spot, but with a different pedigree. This one sold in 2014; in all, Ferrari only built 39 250 GTOs. Notable for its impeccable maintenance, this one was engineered specifically to race in the 1963 FIA World GT Championships—and, of course, it won.
1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scagietti
Final price: $35,700,000
The awe-inspiring race history of this car made it irresistible to bidders. Its first competition was the Sebring 12 Hours, and it went on to distinguish itself in the Mille Miglia and, eventually, the Le Mans.
If you’re a real gearhead, you probably know that even more money has changed hands privately—between sellers who don’t want to bother with the risks of public auctions and buyers who don’t want the publicity. The most expensive car ever sold privately? In 2018, a 1963 beauty went for $70 million in a private deal, reportedly to the founder of WeatherTech car floor mats, David MacNeil.