A 1954 Mercedes-Benz race car sold for a record $30 million at an auction in England on July 12, 2013. While collectible cars have been sold privately for more, this is the highest price ever paid for a car at a public auction, making it world’s most expensive car.
The record was previously held by a 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype which sold at an auction in California in 2011 for $16.4 million. The Mercedes W196R Formula 1 race car, powered by a 2.5-litre 8-cylinder engine, was one of a group of race cars that won 9 World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix races in 1954 and ’55. The previous record was $16,390,000 for a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, sold on August 21, 2011 in an auction hosted by Gooding & Company in Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, the site of thePebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California, United States. The 1904 Rolls-Royce 10 hp Two-Seater is currently listed on the Guinness World Records as the most expensive veteran car to be sold, at the price of US$7,254,290 ($8,167,043 in 2013), on a Bonhams auction held at Olympia in London on December 3, 2007.
Common contributing factors affecting the value of auctioned automobiles include:
- Low production volumes
- Aesthetic design, even of its time.
- Nostalgia, known as the generation effect; collectors in their prime earning years, being able to afford a seven figure car, are likely to buy cars that they are born to identify themselves with.
- Typically sport cars are generally more expensive than comparable engined saloons, therefore desirable, the same applies to roadsters over saloons but luxury cars, as for their higher price tag, are on a higher end of the scale.
- Condition, also complete documentation (such as evidence of its restoration) of the car is vital for its value. It is not unusual for these cars to have undergone restoration work in the past costing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
- Winning a prestigious auto show helps the car’s value.
- Originality, typically a car that had its original mechanical components, as it was when it left the factory, is more desirable to the one that doesn’t. Original bodyshell retains the value better to one fitted with a new body but the chassis of the car is more considered by collectors.
- Cars equipped with automatic transmission are considered to be less desirable than its manual counterpart.
- Cars that have been freshly restored or hidden away for a number of years or decades makes the car desirable to a show winner or a famous car.
- Eligibility to vintage events is a factor to prices as collectors typically buy vintage race cars to enter historic events as are cars that can be designed to be driven on the street but are competitive on the track.
- The originality of the car is considered important in historic racing due to the Historic Technical Passports and FIA Heritage Certificates in force, meaning cars must retain mechanical systems that belonged to the car of the period to prevent unfair advantages.
- Cars with a strong motorsport history improve on the car’s desirability, better if the car have won a prestigious race such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Formula One World Championship and the Indianapolis 500. An example would be the Ferrari 330 TRI/LM Spider that was sold for $9,2 million in 2007, which was the 1962 winner of the 24 hours classic. Note that sportcar racers makes up the majority of competition cars on the main list.
- A car associated with a famous person adds value to its price.