What Are The Most Sought After Classic Cars
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Most Valuable Classic Cars of All Time
This gearhead article breakdowns some of the most expensive vintage cars of all time while offering interesting automotive history facts and explaining what exactly makes these classic cars so sought after.
1962 Ferrari GTO
- Price: $48.4 million
- Engine: 3.0 L V-12
- Horsepower: 296 HP
- Top speed: 174 mph
- Weight: 1,940 pounds
With only 36 Ferrari 250 GTO's ever made, this stylish sports car is considered a pinnacle of iconic classic cars amongst many collectors. The beautiful car was sold for over $48.4 million at an auction house in 2018, costing more than some mega-mansions and beating the previous record of $38.115 million, set by another Ferrari GTO in 2014 ($42.9 million in 2022 rate). The record-breaking classic Ferrari was driven to victory by world-renowned Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi during the 1962 Italian GT Championship, yet this model isn't the most expensive vintage car sold. At a private sale in 2018, the 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO that won the 1964 Tour De France sold for an eye-watering $70million, the highest price ever paid for any car. The incredible rarity of these models was apparent as Enzo Ferrari himself would personally select those privileged enough to be a buyer and owners.
1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider
- Price: $38.3 million
- Engine: 4.0 L V-12
- Horsepower: 390
- Top speed: 186 mph
- Weight: 1,940 pounds
The 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider certainly isn't at the top of the most popular classic cars list, owing to its dark history. Yet, it still pulls in iconic car status, with only four of these models ever produced by Ferrari. In the 1957 Mille Miglia, the 335 S came second, but by then, the reputation of the classic car was tainted. A second Ferrari 335 S Spider tires popped during the same 1957 race, killing the driver Alfonso de Portago and his navigator, along with ten innocent spectators, five of which were children. Its dark history and limited production make the 1957 Ferrari 335 an incredibly iconic vintage car in short supply, carrying a suitably hefty price tag.
1954 Mercedes-Benz W196
- Price: $32.17 million
- Engine: 2.5 L straight-8
- Horsepower: 290
- Top speed: 186 mph
- Weight: 1,841 pounds
In the mid-1990's when Ferrari and Maserati owned the racing world, the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Formula One car smashed records, winning two World Championship races back to back, first in 1954 and then in 1955. This iconic sports car re-established the Mercedes-Benz name, yet, this was short-lived as in 1955, the same Mercedes- W196 model crashed with debris killing 83 spectators, becoming history's deadliest motorsports crash. For 29 years after this event, Mercedes withdrew their sports cars from competitive racing, and the infamous 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Formula One sports car sold for $29.6 million in 2013 at the Bonhams auction house.
1956 Ferrari 290 MM
- Price: $30.45 million
- Engine: 3.5 L V-12
- Horsepower: 320
- Top speed: 170
- Weight: 1,940 pounds
The first ever Ferrari-badged car was released in 1947, making the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM a true old classic car. Built to be a Ferrari factory racer, this model first competed in the Mille Miglia in 1956, hence the acronym MM. Ferrari driver Eugenio Castellotti won the race in 1956 without the aid of his navigator. In 2015, Sotheby's auction house sold one of three remaining models for $28 million, with another 1956 Ferrari 290 MM fetching $22 million in 2018.
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider
- Price: $30.38 million
- Engine: 3.3 L V-12
- Horsepower: 300
- Top speed: 166.5 mph
- Weight: 2,866 lbs.
The 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider may have had low demand when production was first planned, but today this classic car holds a legendary story of a man named Eddie Smith. Smith viewed the Spider as the most beautiful car he'd ever seen and had to buy one, purchasing his own model in 1968 for around $10,000 (around $82,000 in 2022).
Automotive history states that once Eddie even refused to sell his model to Steve McQueen, who had just crashed his own SPIDER. After passing away in 2007, Smith's son, Eddie Jr., was gifted the legacy car, which he eventually sold at an auction house for a cool $25 million. All proceeds were gifted to loved charities by Eddie Jr.
1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale
- Price: $28.7 million
- Engine: 3.3 L V-12
- Horsepower: 230
- Top speed: 160mph
- Weight: N/A
Another super-rare classic car is the 1964 Ferrari 275, GTB/C Speciale, with only three of these valuable cars ever built. With this iconic classic car, it's no surprise one of three models sold for a whopping $26,400,000 in 2014. In 2017, race team owner, racer and hypercar collector Preston Henn passed away, leaving one of the world's most expensive vintage cars ever made in his collection, another Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale, and the only one with a racing history.
1959 Aston Martin DBR1
- Price: $23.67 million
- Engine: 2.9 L V-6
- Horsepower: 301
- Top speed: N/A
- Weight: 1,765 pounds
In 1949, English entrepreneur and engineer David Brown bought the struggling Aston Martin luxury car brand for only £30,000 (around $45,000 today). Brown dreamed of winning the Le Mans, finally achieving this in 1959 with his Aston Martin DBR1 model, suitably named after himself. Only five of these classic cars were made, with one selling for $22.5 million in 2017, although this car was the first of five built, it wasn't the one that won that race. Aston Martin models have been long associated with British spy James Bond, with the DB5 being the pinnacle of spy movie cars.
Popular Classic Cars
Jaguar E-Type (1961–1974)
In 1961, Enzo Ferrari once dubbed the Jaguar E-Type the most beautiful car that'd ever been made, making over 72,000 models sent worldwide to new Jaguar owners. The classic Jaguar E-Type car can reach 0-60m.p.h. in 6.5 seconds and provides top speeds of up to 150 m.p.h. Although not extremely rare, these are a great classic car choice as many are still in rotation, providing a community and quicker access to new parts.
Chevrolet Corvette (1953-present)
One of the most collected cars in the USA, and arguably the most iconically American classic cars, is the Chevrolet Corvette. This classic car has an impressive production period of over 65 years and eight model generations, with the first model, the 1955 Corvette V8, now considered one of the most popular classic cars on the market. The model's long stretch in automotive history means there are still plenty of classic cars to go around, in auction houses, classic car collectors or on online websites.
Lamborghini Miura (1966–1973)
Only 764 Lamborghini Miura models were built since it debuted in 1966, yet this Lamborghini model is regarded as one of the sexiest cars ever made, with a powerful engine to rival its main competitor- Ferrari. Many enthusiasts rave about the roar of the engine behind their heads, creating a whole new driving experience from other classic cars.
Porsche 911 (1964 – present)
Still produced today, the Porsche 911 is a long-running classic car model, with the original encompassing the true essence of vintage cars. Comparing the traditional 911 Porsche model to modern car models, the classic car still provides plentiful horsepower and impressive driver control. Depending on the year, you can still find a Porsche 911 online in mint condition, or find rarer models like the 911S used to win the world-famous Monte Carlo Rally back-to-back in 1969 and then in 1970. In May 2017, the one-millionth example was manufactured and put into Porsche's permanent collection.
Rolls-Royce Dawn Drophead (1949- 1954)
The original Silver Dawn Drophead had a short-lived production of only five years, being released in 1949 and withdrawn in 1954. The Dawn Drophead was based on the initial full-sized Rolls-Royce that was designed after the second world war, this new model aimed to turn a new page in society while reinstating Rolls-Royce's relevance. The 1952 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn Drophead is one of the rarer Drophead models, with only 28 versions of this model being manufactured, with most now owned by private vintage car collectors. After a 60-year hiatus, Rolls-Royce is redesigning the classic car model with a successor.
Mercedes SL 300 Gullwing (1954-1957)
The Mercedes SL 300 Gullwing was the world's fastest production car during the mid-1900s, it was also the first production car series to use direct fuel injection, allowing the car to reach top speeds of 160m.p.h. The SL 300 Gullwing model re-established Mercedes amongst the most valuable cars of its time, giving owners an amazing driving experience behind the wheel. Today three-quarters of the original models remain in good condition, most are still owned by their initial owners with a few models viewable in automotive history museums like the Petersen in LA, USA.
BMW 3.0 CSL (1968-1975)
The BMW 3.0 CSL is famed in automotive history, driven by legends like Sam Posey, Brain Redman and Hans Stuck, this muscle car has claimed numerous victories on the track. Victories with the BMW 3.0 CSL helped establish BMW's place in the performance muscle car market. It was host to numerous pioneering technologies, including the first four-valve six-cylinder engine and useful anti-lock brakes.
Acura NSX (1990-2005)
This may not be classed as the most beautiful car ever made, yet it offers daily-driver characteristics with supercar elements, prooving a classic car can do both. The Acura NSX is a modern classic that inspired drivers to be confident with handling, taking sharp corners and pushing the speeds. In 2016, an updated hybrid electric Acura NSX model was released, though the original had 9,000 models manufactured and finding a classic car is easy enough.
Shelby GT350 (1965-1970)
Ford released the first generation of Shelby GT350 models, otherwise known as Shelby Cobra, in the late 1960s, with modern models still being produced today. This classic car is a certified racing car but was usable on the street, with a powerful Ford V8 engine providing a roaring engine for enthusiastic drivers. Vintage cars can be found in auction houses or with classic car collector companies.
Ford Model T (1908- 1927)
The Ford Model T is famed in automotive history as the pinnacle classic car for the American automotive industry. Produced between 1908 and 1927, this affordable classic car was popular with the masses. Although the Model T is one of the most iconic classic cars, it is hard to drive with a turbulent hand-cranked engine. You'll struggle to find an original Ford Model T in great condition, and its adorable top speeds of 27 m.p.h make it an interesting classic car.
Sought-after Classic Muscle Cars
Plymouth Road Runner (1968–1980)
The Plymouth Road Runner is a classic muscle car, first released in 1968 at a respective entry price of $3,000 to attract the younger market. The entry price often was a starting investment, as many muscle car owners prefer to further modify and individualise their iconic cars, and upgrade packages can almost double the initial cost. A favourite variation of the
Plymouth Road Runner is the hardtop variation, more specifically the 1969 ragtop version that only had 2,200 models manufactured, fetching around $40,000 today.
1971 Plymouth Superbird 440 (1970)
Based on the classic Plymouth Road Runner, the 1971 Superbird 400 was a redesigned version to match the new muscle car requirements set by NASCAR. The classic car provided highly modified elements, recognisable graphics and a comical horn sound to mimic the Looney Toons Road Runner character. Though designed as a race car, most Superbirds remained road drivers with two key upgrade choices to modify the classic car. Over the last few years, the classic car's price has risen dramatically, now fetching around $107,000 at auction houses, with one model sold in 2001 for $67,000.
Dodge Charger R/T 440
One instantly recognisable name in the muscle car market is the Dodge Charger. Famed for Hollywood appearances in Bullitt (1968), Dukes of Hazzard (1979) and more recently, the Fast & Furious (2011 & 2015) franchise, this muscle car is still adored by the masses. This iconic car emits bad-boy energy, with its smooth lines and immense power rivalling any muscle car. In today's market, a Dodge Charger R/T 440 can cost an eye-watering $170,000, even though a respectable 37,000 models were produced, and the Charger was originally sold for only $3,500.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1/Z-28/SS Coupe (1967-present)
Chevrolet Camaro models are a truly popular classic car, with its first generation produced in 1967 and new models still released today. The ZL1 model produced in 1969 is one of the rarest and most desired muscle cars, with only 69 models made and most ending up on the drag-race track. Prices have jumped from a starting price of $7,200 (1969) to $18,000 (2001) and then to $91,000 (2022). The Z-28 was a favourite variation of the Chevrolet Camero, originally designed for road racing, though the handling was tricky for new drivers. The SS Coupe is an American pony car, offering a stylish coupe with a sporty image.
Buick GSX (1970-1972)
As with other muscle cars during this era, the Buick GSX was on borrowed time, as emission regulations were tightening, leaving gearheads in a slump. The Buick GSX received little attention until a while after its initial release until it became available with an upgraded engine and horsepower max. The muscle car came in two iconic: 'Apollo White' and 'Saturn Yellow', with upgrade packages to further improve horsepower or switch roof styles from sedan to convertible.
Plymouth Barracuda (1964-1974)
This two-door pony car was first produced in 1964, later becoming Plymouth's biggest earner after it gained notoriety in 1970 when an upgraded version was released. The 1970 muscle car model offered a 7.2-litre engine providing 425 horsepower and was known for its difficult handling. Only a few hundred were produced due to high-production costs and increased insurance premiums. Today a Barracuda in mint condition can fetch an eye-watering $2 million.
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