The most expensive cars in the world

What’s the most expensive car in the world? The question itself seems fairly simple, but as is the case with most things, it can be complicated. Are we talking about new cars only, or do we include classics that have had decades to appreciate in value? Do we take into account special-edition models that only saw a limited production run or perhaps even one-of-a-kind models? See? It’s not so easy, is it?

Before we get into the stratospheric numbers, let’s take a step back and put things in perspective. In the summer of 2023, the average transaction price for a new car is right around $48,000. That’s almost 10 grand more than new cars cost in 2019, before the pandemic. What will that buy you today? Well, you can get a midrange Ford F-150, a Kia Telluride, or a Ford Mustang GT with a few options. Not bad when you consider that these choices are among the best in their respective classes.

At the very bottom of the spectrum is the Nissan Sentra, at only $15,580. Sure, there are a few anomalies such as the Changli Nemica that can be ordered from Alibaba for about $1,000 to start, but there are a bunch of hidden costs, including shipping.

What is the most expensive car sold at auction?

Let’s start at the top, with the most expensive car ever sold at auction. The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe Prototype sold for $142 million in 2022. RM Sotheby’s sold it on behalf of Mercedes-Benz at a private auction held at the carmaker’s museum in Stuttgart, Germany. It’s one of two prototypes made, with the other remaining in Mercedes’ keeping. The new owner remains unnamed for the moment, but we do know what Mercedes did with some of the money. Some funds went to establish a scholarship for students in the environmental science and decarbonization fields.

1955 Mercedes Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe 091

What is the most expensive new car available today?

Outside of the classic car market, the most expensive new vehicle is the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail which rings in at $28 million. It’s the first model to emerge from the company’s new Coachbuild department that caters to the profanely wealthy. Case in point, the first Boat Tail commission is for a pearl magnate. It’s unknown at the moment where the other two examples will end up, but they’re unlikely to remain a secret for long.

That’s because the Rolls-Royce Boat Tail is an extraordinarily unique four-seat convertible. The back-end styling is inspired by high-end yachts and powerboats, with powered butterfly panels that reveal a storage area that can be custom tailored to meet their client’s needs. The first Boat Tail features a set of bespoke picnic equipment, including a power-deployed parasol. That leaves us wondering how the other two Boat Tails will be outfitted. A mobile astronomy observatory? A deployable bouncy house? Rocket launchers? It boggles the mind, all for the price equivalent to 1,797 Nissan Sentras.

With such a limited run, it’s somewhat possible that the Boat Tail may someday run across the auction block and surpass the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe Prototype. The rich just keep getting richer, right? It’s also worth noting that it’s not uncommon for some uber-rich collectors to make behind-the-scenes deals that are not publicized. It’s entirely possible that the prices we’ve thrown around here could be well below these private-party transactions. At least now we know what to do with our future Powerball winnings.

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