From limited-series one-offs to the last original surviving examples of coveted models from decades past, the world’s rarest cars fetch big bucks at auction. Deep-pocketed auto enthusiasts from around the globe are hungry to own the hard-to-find vehicles that will instantly put them in a class by themselves as car collectors — if they can get their hands on one. Here’s a look at the rarest and most desired cars in the world.
Last updated: Sept. 10, 2020
1961 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB Spider
Estimated value or price: $17.16 million
If this car looks familiar, it might be because it’s similar to the one in the 1986 hit movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” And it’s a gem, as evidenced by the sale of one at a 2016 auction for $17.16 million.
“Only [about] 55 of these were ever made, making this particular model one of the most sought-after Ferraris on the market,” said Shayrgo Barazi, an automotive engineer and founder of CarSumo, a car news site.
Bugatti Type 41 Royale Kellner Coupe
Estimated value or price: $22 million
Only three of the six Bugatti Type 41 Royales ever produced were sold, according to a report from CarBuzz. However, because the unbodied chassis cost $30,000 when it was first made during the Great Depression, it’s no surprise that sales were low.
In 1987, one of them sold at auction for $9.7 million. Even without adjusting for inflation, the record that was set back then still stands today, more than 30 years later. None have changed hands since. When you factor in inflation, the car’s value today would be around $22 million.
“Apart from the fact that very few units of it were built, the 12.7-liter, straight-eight engine made it that much more rare and special,” said Jordan Perch, an automotive enthusiast who writes for DMV.com.
1964 Ford GT40
Estimated value or price: $6.93 million
An American classic, the prototype for the 1964 Ford GT40 fetched $6.93 million in 2014, the last time one was sold.
“Among other things, what makes it special is the fact that it was built in an attempt to challenge Ferrari on the race track,” Perch said.
1951 Pegaso Z-102
Estimated value or price: $1 million
In 1951, the fastest and most sophisticated production car in the world was built not by Ferarri, Porsche or Bugatti, but by a manufacturer of trucks and buses in Spain. The Pegaso Z-102 had a top speed of 150 miles per hour, according to Road and Track.
“Built by the Spanish carmaker Pegaso, the car was a direct competitor to Ferrari in terms of performance and style and is still considered to be one of the most beautiful cars ever created,” said Shibarshin, noting that today’s models are valued at around $1 million.
1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa
Estimated value or price: $39.8 million
The 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa is one of just 34 models ever built, Shibarshin said. Along with racing around the world and gathering numerous wins, the car was known for its impeccable styling.
Today, the Testa Rossa is worth tens of millions of dollars. In fact, an unrestored 250 Testa Rossa traded hands in 2014 for nearly $40 million — a record-breaking price, according to the Daily Mail.
1970 Porsche 917K
Estimated value or price: $10 million to $20 million
This is the car that put Porsche on the Le Mans pedestal in 1970 and 1971, so it has an impressive racing pedigree for collectors, Shibarshin said.
“Now, they are valued anywhere from $10 million to $20 million, depending on the models, race wins and current condition,” he added. The one Steve McQueen drove to Hollywood fame in the movie “Le Mans” sold for $14 million in 2017, making it the most expensive Porsche in the world.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
Estimated value or price: $70 million
Considered by many collectors to be the holy grail of classic cars, the 250 GTO was one of Ferrari’s most successful race cars, said Shibarshin. It’s also incredibly rare. Only 39 were ever built, all between 1962-64. In 2018, CNN reported that a ’63 250 GTO became the most expensive car in the world when it fetched $70 million at auction.
1954 Oldsmobile F-88
Estimated value or price: $3.24 million
Let’s just say that this is not your father’s Oldsmobile — unless he’s a serious collector. Those looking for rare cars for sale should definitely check out the Oldsmobile F-88.
The 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 concept car fetched $3.24 million at auction. According to the Gateway Auto Museum, this gem is literally the only one of its kind.
1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
Estimated value or price: $14.3 million
Zagato is one of the world’s best-known coachbuilders. Since 1919, the company has created some of the most beautiful and memorable cars, including the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato.
“Just 19 cars were [produced], and one example … sold for $14.3 million,” Shibarshin said.
Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
Estimated value or price: $10 million
This Italian beauty is tough to value because one almost never comes up for sale, said CarSumo’s Barazi. But because only 18 were made, he expects the price would be much higher than past estimates of $3 million. At least one of those 18 is worth $10 million, according to a 2017 report from Motor Authority. The 33 Stradale has a top speed of 160 mph and can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds.
1960 Porsche Abarth 356B Carrera GTL
Estimated value or price: N/A
Here’s a Porsche that even most Porsche enthusiasts might not know about.
“Porsche collaborated with the Italian car manufacturer Abarth to build the Carrera GTL,” Barazi said. “Only about 20 were made… and at the time sold for [an estimated] $6,500.”
However, he added, its current value isn’t well-established.
1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing
Estimated value or price: $5.5 million to $6.5 million
The Mercedes 300SL Gullwing is one of the most iconic cars ever produced and was an immediate hit when it was released.
“The 300SL was the most technologically advanced vehicle to hit the market in the ’50s,” Barazi said. If you really want rare, try the aluminum alloy version. Sotheby’s valued one of those at between $5.5 million and $6.5 million in 2014.
1957 Jaguar XKSS
Estimated value or price: $1.2 million-plus
The year 2017 was special for well-heeled Jaguar fans because that’s when the first Jaguar XKSS in six decades rolled off the lines. They were built by expert craftsmen to the exact specifications of the 1957 limited-run original model, which is widely considered to be the world’s first supercar. Exactly nine were built for release in 2017 to replace the legendary “lost” nine XKSS examples that were destroyed in a fire en route to North America in 1957. Only 16 original examples were built.
“It’s based on the Jaguar D-Type race car and came about as a result of Jaguar pulling out of competitive motorsports at the time,” said Barazi. Jaguar converted the D-Types to street-legal versions. Each of the new “lost nines” costs more than 1 million pounds, or a little more than $1.2 million.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Estimated value or price: $770,000 or more
Here’s one of the most sought-after American muscle cars ever built, Barazi said.
What makes this bundle of power so attractive? The car features an all-aluminum engine and only 69 examples were ever made. In 2018, a rare and restored example sold at auction for $770,000.
1956 Aston Martin DBR1
Estimated value or price: $22.6 million
Widely considered to be the most important Aston Martin model ever made, the 1956 DBR1 also holds the distinction of being the most expensive British car ever sold at auction. In 2017, the winning bidder parted with nearly $22.6 million to own one.
The car made Aston Martin a genuine competitor against the era’s titans, including Ferrari and Jaguar. It remains the only Aston Martin to win the overall Le Mans.
1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer
Estimated value or price: $4.81 million
Ferdinand Porsche was the chief engineer when the 1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer came into being. Ideal for both roads and race tracks, an impressive example of this touring car fetched $4.81 million at auction in 2017. Of the 174 of these classic cars produced, only a handful survived to see the 21st century, making it one of the rarest cars on this list.
Rolls-Royce 15 hp
Estimated value or price: Not available
The original 1904 agreement between automakers Charles Rolls and Henry Royce resulted in the production of four cars. One of them was the Rolls-Royce 15 hp, but due to concerns with the engine, only six of them were ever built and only one remains today. It topped out at 15 horsepower, which could take it all the way up to nearly 40 mph. Its value is unclear, but the 1904 Rolls-Royce 10 hp — its immediate predecessor and also one of the original four — sold for $4.3 million in 2007. It was the oldest Rolls-Royce in the world, but unlike the 15 hp, there were still three other 10 hp examples in existence.
Estimated value or price: $825,000
Packard built only four original Panthers in 1954, but those would go on to define the Packard concept series and launch the brand into the American consciousness as a direct competitor to the high-end European automakers that defined the era. Only two of the four originals remain. One became the Daytona Panther, which broke speed records topping 130 mph in the Florida racing city that bears its name. The other was used as a show car for the 1954 season both in the U.S. and in Europe. In 2013, that one fetched $825,000 at auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.
1969 Chevrolet Corvette ZL-1
Estimated value or price: More than $1 million
General Motors manufactured only two ZL-1 examples — one yellow, one white. They’re the rarest Corvettes ever built. Motor Trend tested more than 140 Corvettes since the arrival of the C1 in 1954, but few were more remarkable than the ZL-1, which the publication refers to as an “infamous, mysterious Super Vette.” It boasts an all-aluminum 427-ci V-8 engine that officially claims 430 horsepower, although it is believed the true measurement is closer to 500-550 horsepower. Although you can get a pretty convincing replica for inside of $100,000, the original white car is now valued at more than $1 million.
Estimated value or price: $1.8 million
Preston Tucker was an automotive genius and a pioneer in the industry. The game-changing sedan he released in 1948, known informally as the Torpedo, gave the world its first glimpse at stunning new features that would soon become standard across the industry. Of the 51 that were built, 47 survive today. In 2018, the personal Torpedo actually driven by Preston Tucker sold for just shy of $1.8 million.
Talbot Lago Grand Sport (Introduced in 1948)
Estimated value or price: $1.7 million to $2.1 million
Of the 29 Talbot Lago Grand Sports ever built on the short-wheelbase chassis, 26 still remain. It was available as either a coupe or a cabriolet. An ultraluxe evolution of the iconic prewar T150C SS, Anthony Lago’s contribution to the Talbot brand was designed with the aristocracy in mind. Its sleek, luxurious and sharp features were backed up by 190 horsepower.
Estimated value or price: $495,000
Porsche announced that it was halting production of the Porsche 916 just as it was set to debut at the 1971 Paris Auto Salon. Manufacturing and labor costs were high and there simply weren’t enough orders to justify the $14,000 price tag, which was much more expensive than even the priciest Porsche 911. Built on the body of the 914, the Porsche 916 dream almost ended before it started — almost. Today, there are still 11 in circulation.
1967-1970 Dodge Hemi Coronet R/T Convertible
Estimated value or price: $300,000 to $350,000
Built as an answer to the Chevy LS6 Chevelle, the Hemi-powered Dodge Coronet R/T was a roaring, powerful machine with a 426-ci engine and dual four-barrel carburetors — and if you see a drop-top, you’re looking at something very rare. Dodge built only three Hemi Coronet R/T convertibles in 1967, two with four-speed transmissions. Two were built in 1970 and none in ’68 or ’69.
1971 Plymouth Barracuda Convertible Hemi 426
Estimated value or price: $3.5 million
In 1970, the Plymouth Barracuda was all the rage — 50,617 units were sold. The next year, however, that number dropped off to 16,159. Only 108 of those were Hemi Cuda coupes and just 11 were Hemi Cuda convertibles. When you throw in a four-speed, you’re left with only two — but only a single one in existence is believed to have matching numbers, according to Road and Track. In 2014, it sold for $3.5 million, making it the most expensive Mopar ever sold at auction.
1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 400 Ram Air Convertible
Estimated value or price: Not available
The world met the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in 1969 and it would outlast every other growling beast from the muscle car era. Only eight of the Ram Air 400/335 horsepower-engine, four-speed monsters were built before Pontiac killed the convertible body type. The value of these rare, all-American gems is unclear.
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Photo Disclaimer: Please note photos are for illustrative purposes only. As a result, some of the photos might not reflect the automobiles listed in this article.