EyIjCMJ5 1924 Hispano Suiza H6C
1924 Hispano Suiza H6C

$200 million Benz tops the A-list

Riley Riley

Feast your eyes on the 10 most expensive cars of 2022.

It was a record year, with the highest price ever paid for an automobile and the largest total for online and live auction sales in a single year.

Heading up the list is the unprecedented $A204 million paid for a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, more than doubling the previous high point of £93 million for a Ferrari 250 GTO in 2018.

The next highest figure was a paltry $37.5 million attracted by a McLaren F1 followed by $33 million paid for a Ferrari 410 Sport Spider.

Collectively, more than $A4.4 billion had been spent by the end of October, based on data supplied by Hagerty, exceeding 2021’s total with two months to spare.

Without further ado, here’s the 10 cars that topped the auction lists, starting from 10 and working upwards.

1958 Maserati 450S

10: 1958 Maserati 450S

Sold for: $13.5 million

Where: California, USA

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey, August

The only Maserati to make the list is the ninth of 10 450S race cars built with coachwork by Fantuzzi and shares a Carroll Shelby connection with the third-placed Ferrari.

Shelby’s Texas-based race team ordered the car new from the factory for privateer racer Jesse “Ebb” Rose.

Rose did rather well, winning his first SCCA Regional race and several more.

It was retired from racing in 1960 and passed between US owners until it was sold to its new keeper in the UK.

Among its owners was British Baron John Ailwyn Fellowes who had the car fully restored in the early ’70s.

Over the ensuing years the car found homes back in the USA, in Japan and again in the UK.

This much-travelled Maserati sold after RM Sotheby’s auction ended in August where it went for more than $13.5 million.

1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB

9: 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB

Sold for: $13.8 million

Where: London, UK

Auction: Gooding and Company London, September

It wouldn’t be a top 10 list without a Ferrari 250, now would it?

2022’s highest priced example was a 1960 SWB GT with coachwork by Scaglietti which sold for £7,762,500 at Gooding and Company in London in September.

When new, the car was raced at Le Mans, Goodwood and Montlhéry and, more recently, took part in the Le Mans Classic, Goodwood Revival and Tour Auto.

Its history was thoroughly documented by Ferrari archivist Marcel Massini and it was recently restored in a collaboration between Lanzante and Ferrari Classiche.

1924 Hispano Suiza H6C

8: 1924 Hispano-Suiza H6C

Sold for: $13.9 million

Where: California, USA

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey, August

If prices were paid based on name alone, this 1924 Hispano-Suiza H6C “Tulipwood” Torpedo by Nieuport-Astra would surely come top of the 2022 list.

Adding an even more exotic touch to this car’s story is the fact that it was raced by aperitif heir André Dubonnet in the 1924 Targa Florio and Coppa Florio, finishing in a creditable sixth and fifth place, respectively.

Part of Dubonnet’s success must come to down to the marvellous mahogany bodywork which he commissioned from aircraft makers Nieuport-Astra and weighed just 70-odd kilos.

The car passed through the hands of noted automobilists including Roland Coty and Alexander Keiller and then in the 1950s it was restored by Standard Oil’s Gerald Albertini.

It had a second rebuild in 1985 and was dubbed the Most Significant Hispano-Suiza at the 1986 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

$13,878,507 was the hammer price at RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction in August.

1937 Mercedes Benz 540 K Special Roadster

7: 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster

Sold for: $14.9 million

Where: California, USA

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey, August

There’s nothing like a regal connection to ramp up value.

This 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster was delivered to the last King of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zahir Shah who ascended to the throne at the age of just 19.

At the outbreak of World War II the car was dispatched for safe keeping to the Afghan embassy in Paris, where it survived.

The car spent a few years in London before undertaking a journey across the Atlantic to the collection of American Vernon D Jarvis who displayed it in Florida.

Later sold to another collector, Robert Bahre, it was hidden away for decades before being put up for sale at RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction in August where it went for $14,897,654.

1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante

6: 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante

Sold for: $15.5 million

Where: California, USA

Auction: Gooding and Company Pebble Beach, August

You could buy three new Chirons for the price that this 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante fetched at Gooding and Company’s Pebble Beach auction in August.

It is one of just 17 examples built by Jean Bugatti and claimed to be the best of them all.

Powered by a 3.3-litre supercharged in-line eight-cylinder engine producing a rather mighty 150kW it would easily top 200km/h.

It also topped $15.5 million after undergoing a full restoration by Bugatti specialist Ivan Dutton.

1937 Talbot Lago Teardrop Coupe 2

5: 1937 Talbot-Lago Teardrop Coupe

Sold for: $18.1 million

Where: California, USA

Auction: Gooding and Company Pebble Beach, August

An award-winning Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Coupe once owned by Tommy Lee, one of California’s movers and shakers in the 1930s and ’40s hot rod scene, caused a stir at Gooding and Company’s Amelia Island Auction in March, where it sold for about $18,059,853.

The French fancy featured coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi which saw it win the Prix d’Excellence on its debut at the 1938 Concours d’Elegance Fémina in Paris.

In later life the car also won First in Class at Pebble Beach and Best in Show at Amelia Island.

With its four-litre inline six-cylinder engine and 104kW it was remarkably rapid for its day and it didn’t take long for a buyer to scoop it up.

2003 Ferrari F2003 GA

4: 2003 Ferrari F2003 GA driven by Michael Schumacher

Sold for: $23.1 million

Where: Geneva, Switzerland

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Geneva, November

When Michael Schumacher won the 2003 Formula 1 title (his fourth of five consecutive championships with Ferrari, and sixth out of seven in total) this was the car that helped him to five victories.

Put together by the “superteam” of Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and Paola Martinelli, it was so dominant that Schumacher had wrapped up the drivers’ championship with six races to go.

What’s more the F2003 was only introduced during the fifth round in Spain, and Schumacher had only been on the top step of the podium once in the first four races.

Chassis number 229 was the most successful of six examples built with its 3.0-litre V10 engine powering him into the record books, surpassing Fangio’s long-held score of five world championships.

At RM Sotheby’s Geneva auction on November 9 the car sold for 14,630,000 Swiss Francs or around $23.1 million.

1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Spider

3: 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Spider

Sold for: $33.1 million

Where: California, USA

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey, August

The storied racing history of this Ferrari was key to its remarkable £18.6 million ($33.1 million) hammer price at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale in August.

Like the Mercedes 300 SLR in this list, it was designed for a race that never was: the 1955 Carrera Panamericana.

With the event cancelled after the awful events at Le Mans that year, when a collision caused a Mercedes to crash into spectators, the car was instead recruited to campaign the 1956 World Sportscar Championship where Juan Manuel Fangio battled for the lead of the first race of the season, the 1000km of Buenos Aires, but was foiled by a broken differential.

The car was sent back to Modena and sold to American John Edgar who put Carroll Shelby behind the wheel, taking the win on his very first outing at Seafair in Washington.

Shelby would describe the car as “the best Ferrari I ever drove.”

Success followed success, including at auction.

1998 McLaren F1

2: 1998 McLaren F1

Sold for: $37.5 million

Where: California, USA

Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey, August

At over £600,000 pounds (0 kg) when it was launched in 1992, the no-compromise McLaren F1 was the most costly new car in the world but it has proven to be one of the best automotive investments.

Prices just keep soaring, as demonstrated by the sealed bid sale of a 1998 road car at RM Sotheby’s auction.

Chassis number 059 (of 64) achieved over £21.1 million, despite being surprisingly well-used.

The first owner racked up 7525km before its initial service and more than 26,393 in total – although the seller added barely 480km in its last 10 years, electing to keep it in a climate-controlled garage instead.

Despite requiring recommissioning the car set a new standard for F1 sales, in part, because it had a unique headlamp arrangement to provide better high-speed illumination.

Not that the seller ever needed it.

Hopefully the new keeper will put the F1 to more use, but given the unstoppable financial appreciation of Gordon Murray’s masterpiece it sadly seems unlikely.

1955 Mercedes Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut coupe

1: 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut coupé

Sold for: $204.6 million

Where: Stuttgart, Germany

Auction: RM Sotheby’s private sale, May

Will we ever see another sale like it? May 5, 2022 will go down in history as the day the world’s most expensive car was sold.

At RM Sotheby’s auction one of just two Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR coupés designed by Rudolph Uhlenhaut, the head of Mercedes’ test department, achieved £115 million (€135m).

The car was conceived to take on the Carrera Panamericana and other endurance road races but Mercedes withdrew from motorsport following the tragedy of its 1955 Le Mans crash.

Instead Uhlenhaut converted two examples to road use, creating the fastest car of its day with a top speed of 290km/h.

Both cars were kept by Mercedes until chassis number 196.110-00008/55 was offered for sale and achieved this extraordinary price.

The proceeds are being used to establish a new worldwide fund to provide education and scholarships for young people in the fields of environmental science.

The private collector also agreed to make the car available for public display on special occasions.


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