Ten most expensive cars sold at auction in 2019

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

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Amidst a softer global market, spectacular examples still shine through

The global car market, both within the new-car industry and the classic car market, has softened and slowed over the past 12 months; acutely felt on local shores within our largely isolated marketplace.

Seemingly gone are the frequent headlines touting record-prices and it’s been a long while since a car being sold made the 6:00pm news. That’s not to say there haven’t been records set over the past 12 months, but many auction houses report a stabilisation of top-end numbers, and a further skewing of the market towards a stronger mid-range and increasingly popular entry-level classics.


There are always exceptions however, especially at the top-most echelon of collectibles. In looking at top ten auction sales of 2019, it’s interesting to note a larger presence of modern machinery – reflecting a recent changing of tastes that’s swelling into a prodigious appetite for ‘youngtimers’ and modern classics.

Number 10: 2002 Ferrari F2002 – Sold by RM Sotheby’s for AU$9.66 million


Schumacher’s 2002 Championship-winning F1 car rounds out the list at number ten, sold at RM Sotheby’s Abu Dhabi sale to the tune of US$6.6 million dollars.

The car’s race credentials make it one of the most successful F1 designs of all time, posting 15 wins, 11 poles and 15 fastest laps from a total of 19 races.

Number 9: 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet – Sold by Gooding & Company for AU$9.89 million


Gorgeous 50s Ferrari cabriolet earns its keep in this list: with coachwork by Pininfarina and representing one of 40 ever built, and one of five with factory side vents. This 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet was sold at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach sale for US$6.8 million.

Extremely well documented history with just two owners over the past 30 years, the car is fully restored and is a multiple First in Class and Best of Show winner.

Number 8: 2017 Pagani Zonda ‘Aether’ – Sold by RM Sotheby’s for AU$9.91 million


There’s a reason that most car manufacturers are the better part of a century old: it’s a mammoth and near-unrepeatable task to enter the industry as a late-comer, especially at such a costly end of the market.

But Argentinian-born Horacio Pagani achieved just that, with his breakout Zonda channeling his singular vision for performance and detail, coupled with a singing Mercedes-sourced V12.

This one-of-one Pagani Zonda roadster came to market at RM Sotheby’s Abu Dhabi auction, and sold on behalf of its original owner for US$6.812 million.

Number 7: 1963 Ferrari 250 GT ‘SWB’ Lusso – Sold by Gooding & Company for AU$11 million


This stunning late-production 250 GT short wheelbase Berlinetta represents one of 96 luxuriously-appointed "Lusso" models ever produced and, as the fourth-to-last example ever built, sold at Gooding & Company’s Scottsdale sale for US$7.595 million.

It boasts known history from various notable Ferrari collectors, presents in numbers-correct specification and is documented by both Ferrari’s own Classiche department as well as the famous independent Ferrari historian Marcel Massini.

Number 6: 1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype – Sold by RM Sotheby’s for AU$11.13 million


Just four Roadster-bodied GT40s ever left the Ford Advanced Vehicle factory, two steel bodied prototypes, and two aluminium monocoque bodies which were later scrapped.

This particular GT40 Prototype is one of the two surviving examples, and was formerly raced by the likes of Carroll Shelby, Ken Miles and Jim Clark. It was sold at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale for US$7.65 million.

Number 5: 1962 Ferrari 250 GT ‘SWB’ – Sold by RM Sotheby’s for AU$11.86 million


Another 60s Ferrari 250 GT ‘SWB’ makes an appearance on this list: this one being described as "one of the finest" examples in existence.

Complimented by extensive history, original and "matching numbers" condition, a full set of books and tools, and having undergone an extensive (and expensive) Ferrari factory restoration; this uber-collectible classic Ferrari managed to fetch an eye-watering high bid of US$8.145 million.

Number 4: 2014 Lamborghini Veneno Roadster – Sold by Bonhams for AU$12.13 million


The most modern machine on 2019s top ten auction sales is this questionably-spec’d limited edition Lamborghini Veneno Roadster. Underpinned by the company’s flagship V12 Aventador, just nine of these otherworldly roadsters were made.

The Veneno Roadster was part of a collection of 25 incredibly rare and expensive modern hypercars; seized three years ago after Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, Prince of Equatorial Guinea, was found guilty of embezzlement.

His loss was one bidder’s US$8.337 million gain at Bonham’s Switzerland sale.

Number 3: 1958 Ferrari 250 GT ‘LWB’ California Spider – Sold by Gooding & Company for AU$14.4 million


It’s clear classic Ferrari remains the pinnacle of top-end collecting, with this 1958 250 GT long wheelbase California Spider fetching a Prancing Horse high-price, at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach sale for US$9.9 million.

This one is a rare ‘covered-headlight’ example with period SCCA racing history. It presents ‘numbers-correct’ and has been treated to a no-expense-spared award-winning restoration and is bolstered by all the Ferrari factory documentation and also documented by Marcel Marcini.

Number 2: 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta – Sold at Artcurial’s Retromobile sale for AU$28 million


The holy grail of Alfa Romeo collecting and the only pre-war car making this Top Ten list.

Just five of its kind were ever created bearing Berlinetta bodywork from Carrozeria Touring.

The car has been repainted various times throughout its life, and had its engine rebuilt in the 80s; but it’s never been fully restored and presents incredibly original and period correct.

It sold for an absolutely dizzying US$19.257 million.

Number 1: 1994 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’ – Sold by RM Sotheby’s for AU$AU$28.8 million


Is it crazy to think that the most expensive car sold at auction in 2019 isn’t even old enough to qualify for club plates in many Australia states?

Well that’s exactly the case as this one-of-two McLaren F1s converted by the factory to ‘LM Specification’ shattered records as it sold for US$19.8 million at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale.


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