When it comes to luxury items, the sky’s the limit. Cars are no different in that respect. Thanks to aficionados buying select models at insane prices, the market has split wide open: While most drivers can barely keep up their loan instalments for a used Dacia, others will spend tens of thousands of Pounds on a license plate. If that sounds unhealthy, then because it is.
Be it as it may, the world of super expensive cars can be a lot of fun even if you’ll never get to actually drive one of them. Some of these vehicles are sheer monstrosities, others look more like spaceships than cars. Yet others seem to replicate formula one designs.
A few of these unique specimens, however, are fascinating in every way: Stunning to look at, breathtaking to drive and equipped with the latest technology, they make us feel like a child again.
Let’s dive into the world of these little wonders on wheels – and check out the most expensive cars of all times.
But where does expensive start?
Once you start researching the topic, one thing quickly becomes clear: There’s a huge difference between expensive and really expensive.
Let’s take an example. The Ferrari 488 GTB is one of the UK’s most expensive cars. Its recommended retail price hovers around the £ 250,000 mark according to Drive K. At that price tag, you could buy yourself two Aston Marton Vantages, itself one of the more pricey automobiles available in this country.
Even more expensive still is the Rolls Royce Phantom. This may just be the best vehicle the legendary make has ever produced. It is also currently its most expensive regular model: The version with extended wheel base costs a whopping £373,824.
Sound crazy expensive? Think again!
The Ferrari 488 GTB pales in comparison to the super expensive dream cars which top the list of the most expensive cars – such as its big sister, the Ferrari Pininfarina Sergio (which comes at about just over £2 Million, i.e. ten times the price of the 488), or the different versions of the Ferrari LaFerrari series.
And the Phantom looks outright cheap next to the £9.5 Million Rolls Royce Sweptail.
The difference between these models is partially down to their performance, the quality of the materials used, the technologies pioneered and their extravagant design. But these factors alone could never explain the massive difference in price.
Rather, the most important reason is that the 488 GTB and the Phantom are still produced in larger series. They are not limited editions, and even though manufacturing runs are small, there is a regular output of them throughout their lifecycle.
The LaFerrari and Sweptail, meanwhile, are only built in highly limited quantities, mostly on commission. This restricts supply and makes them even more valuable than they already are.
Let’s get to it: The world’s most expensive cars
Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at the ten most expensive cars currently available. Just a little warning before we get started, however: if one of these piques your interest, don’t get your hopes up too high. Due to their aforementioned limitations, most of these have already sold out!
# 10: Bugatti Chiron Super Sport
Bugatti is one of the most legendary car makes of all time. It is so legendary, in fact, that we often forget that it only existed for about 40 years, between 1909 and 1950 to be precise. Back then, with no one to follow up the late founder and designer extraordinaire Ettore Bugatti, it died a quiet death, although parts of its technology would live on in the aviation industry.
Since then, however, the brand continued to spark the imagination of car lovers around the world. In 1987, an investor bought the rights to the name and later, Volkswagen took over production. Today, Bugatti is one of the planet’s leading manufacturers of super expensive cars.
The Chiron is the first among equals. At about £3 million, it is certainly no bargain. Then again, the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport broke the magic barrier of 300 mph and is thus the fastest car you can drive in the UK. Not that you’ll ever get to taste these capacities for real.
At 500,000 less, you can also opt for the Chiron Pur Sport. However, equipped with “stiffer suspension, retuned aerodynamics, a remapped transmission, and a galaxy-class rear wing”, that car is actually not street legal. As pretty as it may be to look at, that does significantly reduce its value in our eyes.
#9 Lamborghini Veneno
Lamborghini is one of those brands you would naturally expect in a list of the most expensive cars of all times. Has this make ever produced a vehicle which wasn’t spectacular too look at?
In fact, over the past years, Lamborghini has expanded on its image as a luxury brand. Although never exactly cheap, the brand did not use to be as inaccessible as it is today. The Countach, most likely the most well-known car they ever made, wasn’t actually all that expensive – despite its classic status, it still ‘only’ fetches between £299,995.00 and £480,000.00
Today, these prices seem puny. The Veneno is a case in point. At a current price of three and a quarter million, it makes Countach drivers look like misers. And although the Veneno may be Lamborghini’s top model, it is not the only million-plus-car it produces: The Sian lags behind only a few hundred thousand Pounds and the Sesto Elemento is also among the 30 most expensive cars in the world.
If you have more money than you could ever spend, this is the brand for you.
#8 Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita
Koenigsegg is one of the most significant newcomers on the scene for super expensive cars. It is one of the brands shaking up the industry, which relied on the same old makes for far too long.
Koenigsegg is based in Sweden and in many respects, it is the exact opposite of the established Volvo brand. Whereas the latter is renowned for its bland, but safe and functional cars, Koenigsegg pushes the limit of what is possible. It wants to build cars that attract attention and stand for innovation and progress. Accordingly, patents for new technologies are a core part of its strategy.
Still, the brand never wanted to build cars only intended for racing tracks. It may only produce a handful of automobiles each year, but the idea was always for people to actually drive them on the road. A key aspect of its approach was therefore to make its models compliant with US regulations in a bid of making them street legal.
In its extraordinary range of expensive vehicles, the CCXR Trevita is by far the most exclusive. Only two copies exist! Koenigsegg would probably love to make more, but the materials required to build it are so hard to produce that they settled for this low production run. Which makes it a special treat even for those with huge wallets.
#7 Pagani Huayra Imola
Remember that we mentioned Lamborghini being one of the world’s leading manufacturers of hyperexpensive automobiles? Well, that impression is further solidified with the arrival on the scene of Pagani.
Pagani was founded in 1992 by no one less than a former Lamborghini employee, the Argentinian Horacio Pagani, responsible for his former employer’s composites department. After building someone else’s dream cars Pagani now fulfils his own life-long dream of a car built according to his personal specifications.
As you’d expect from an Italian brand, everything is all about design and performance. The first Pagani, the Zonda, looked like a Formula One racing car and beating speed records has been one of the brand’s favourite pastimes.
The Huayra is Pagani’s attempt at breaking through on a wider – although admittedly still very limited – scale. The name is an apt reference to the Incan God of the Winds.
Compared to its main competitors, the Huayra, introduced in 2011, was built in the remarkably high production run of 100 – made possible by the fact that the company does not design and produce its own engines, but uses Mercedes technology. The basic version can be obtained at one Million Dollars. But the Imola, the most aggressive version, will set you back just under five million Pounds.
#6 Bugatti Divo
With four entries in the top 10, Bugatti is the undeniable queen of super expensive cars. The Divo is not its most expensive model. But it’s probably the car that cemented its fame as one of the world’s most special and unique car brands.
Without a single doubt, it is also one of the most beautiful cars of its second coming. The Divo looks aggressive, wild and fast. But it is not just a toned-down race car. Nor does it feel like a slightly more upgraded version of a regular production vehicle. It is something of its own, a model defying genres and easy classifications.
Passionate millionaires around the world felt the same. Forty Divos were produced in total and all of them sold out on release day. Not many similarly expensive items can claim the same.
#5 Mercedes Benz Maybach Exelero
It is telling that very few German cars feature in the top 30 of the most expensive cars – although some of them feature German technology. To be precise, there are only two entries in the list and both by Mercedes. Quite clearly, the Germans feel strongly about value for money and hold a deep-rooted aversion against excessive and unnecessary luxuries.
Even more revealingly, the Maybach Exelero isn’t trying to be fun. Instead, this car, of which only one exists worldwide, is a commission by a German tire producer. The explicit concept behind the car was o test a new range of tires, although we can’t for the world understand why it would take such an expensive and extravagant vehicle to do that. It does seem more likely that the commission was a marketing stunt – and a very successful one at that, since the car ended up in several TV series, becoming a popular culture icon.
The design of the Maybach Exelero is a reference to the classic Maybach from Mercedes’s golden era, when it was still untainted by the Chrysler takeover and the difficult years of its quality decline. It’s the car we all want Mercedes to build, as impossible as that may be on a regular production run.
After the tests had been conduced, American rapper Birdman bought the Maybach for the reported sum of eight million Dollars. If these reports are indeed correct, that makes it the fifth most expensive car ever built.
#4 Bugatti Centodieci
Perhaps the most visually stunning entry in the list of the world’s most expensive cars, the Bugatti Centodieci is a modern classic as well as a tribute to sports car history.
Although it may not be instantly visible, this incredible vehicle was as a tribute to the EB110, a striking design icon and an unjustly forgotten gem of the previous generation of supercars.
The EB110 is remarkable not just for its technical and visual features. It also marks the return of the Bugatti brand after lying dormant for decades. In fact, no one expected Bugatti to make a comeback at all, until Romano Artioli bought and saved the brand. The EB110 was his first project for the revived brand, and a passionate one at that.
A veritable dream team
As TopGear recounts:
“Artioli made his fortune selling Ferraris and importing Japanese cars, and persuaded some seriously heavy hitters to join him on his Bugatti adventure (he also owned a majority stake in Lotus, but that’s another story). Marcello Gandini, the man who designed the Lamborghini Miura, Countach and much else besides, drafted a shape that would redefine the Nineties supercar idiom. Former Lamborghini engineering supremo Paolo Stanzani was also key. Ex-Ferrari technical wizard Nicola Materazzi – credited as the father of the F40 – was on-board, as was architect/designer Giampaolo Benedini, who masterminded that remarkable factory. Another legendary Ferrari name, Mauro Forghieri, was Bugatti’s technical director between 1992 and ’94. A youthful Loris Biccochi was the factory driver, and Audi’s current motorsport boss Dieter Gass began his career working there. Hell, Michael Schumacher celebrated his first F1 title by buying one in 1994.”
When Bugatti turned 110 as a company in 2019, the Centodieci seemed like the perfect present for the celebrations. The car has a few references at its famous, but financially ill-fated predecessor. But overall, it’s not so much a sequel as a continuation of a proud tradition: To build breathtaking cars for a small group of enthusiastic fans.
Fittingly, all of the ten available Centodieci were almost instantly snapped up.
#3 Rolls Royce Sweptail
The customs division is one of the things that makes Rolls Royce what it is. Although it is technically possible to just buy a regular old RR, the real connoisseur will never be content with such a mundane, standardised item. Only a personalised Rolls will do. And to some, even a ‘simple’ custom won’t cut it.
This was the case with the Sweptail, finished in 2017 after four years of hand-assembly. Based on the Phantom, which we briefly mentioned at the beginning of this article as one of the most expensive production-run cars in the world, it pays tribute to the classic 1920 and 1930 in terms of its look and materials. As Car Bike Tech points out, this was a time when:
“Rolls Royce introduced coach builds who wants rarity in their car collection. It’s collaboration between patron and artisan. They came together to manufacture an amazing piece of art. Every car built will be the purest form of luxury and refinement. It is a mix of contemporary and modern classics.”
At the time, the Sweptail easily held the record of the most expensive automobile ever made. That, however, would soon change.
#2 Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta
When Horacio Pagani introduced his self-titled car brand to the world, the Zonda was his very first model. At the time, it was by no means certain that the world was waiting for yet another crazy-expensive luxury car brand. Just like any comparable venture, the company was a considerable risk, especially for Pagani, who could have stuck to his well-paying job at Lamborghini or switched to any of the other big names on the scene. Instead, he went it alone and the Zonda was his pet project.
Eighteen years later, Pagani has established itself as one of the most exciting car makes on the planet. That in itself is a feat remarkable enough for a celebration. As it happened, the year it reached the age of consent was also the year of its founders 60th birthday. And so, Pagani gave himself the present of a special edition of the car that started it all.
The Zonda Barchetta is a pretty unique looking car, combining the playful Barchetta look with the furious aesthetic of the original Zonda. It’s a design almost certain to be a bit controversial. But it definitely made for something different.
The Zonda Barchetta was also the last Zonda ever to roll off the assemby line. Which may be a sad fact for some. But it also allowed the company to evolve in different directions, creating even more adventurous vehicles.
#1 Bugatti La Voiture Noire
There must be something in the air. While extremely expensive cars were often a hard sell in the 80s and early 90s, they have since become increasingly popular. Blame the faltering stock markets and the zero interest rate bank accounts, which make the rich search for alternative ways to invest their money.
Between 2017 and 2019, the title of the world’s most expensive cars traded owner three times. First, the Rolls Royce Sweptail was dethroned by the Pagani Zonda HP Barchetta. Finally, the Bugatti La Voiture Noire snatched up the coveted number one position.
All of these cars have one thing in common: Only a single copy of them exists. Which explains the silly price tags. After all, nothing could be more exclusive than a car that only one person can own.
The La Voiture Noire is an interesting design.
Black as a colour is a major factor here. The designers took great care to make the car as black as it could possibly be. Its bullet-like shape combines grace with relentless forward thrust and instantly won the competition at the Concorso d’Eleganza Design Award For Concept Cars & Prototypes.
But the technology under the hood is equally impressive. As Yahoo News points out, “the quad-turbo 16-cylinder engine is the same one used on the Bugatti Chiron, but as we said before it’s tuned to 1,500-hp. To further emphasize this is a special car there are six exhaust pipes in the rear fascia. The more tailpipes the faster the car, or the more expensive, or at least it seems the French believe this.”
No wonder that Bugatti designer Etienne Salomé was more than satisfied:
“Every single component has been handcrafted and the carbon fibre body has a deep black gloss only interrupted by the ultrafine fibre structure. This is a material that has been handled perfectly. We worked long and hard on this design until was nothing that we could improve. For us, the coupé represents the perfect form with a perfect finish.”
With that said, there is as yet no street legal version of this car available. The simple reason: It hasn’t been finished yet. The model which won the design competition was merely a prototype. Nonetheless, the car was quickly snapped up by a buyer – some claim Ronaldo, others former VW boss Ferdinand Piech – at a price which lies somewhere between 11 and 18.7 Million. Which makes it the most expensive car ever made by far.