Bugatti and a partnership between Aston Martin and Red Bull have created headlines for producing two of the most expensive cars ever made, with the £2m Chiron and £3m AM-RB 001. But a quick dig into the classic car auction records reveals these two hypercars are merely spare change compared the prices commanded by their predecessors from the 1950s and '60s.
Of the top-10 most expensive cars ever sold at auction, nine are Ferraris, six come from the Sixties and all have gone under the hammer in the last three years as the current classic car bubble shows no sign of bursting. We have used US dollars as this is the currency most of the auctions took place in, and pound sterling conversions would change over time, in some cases altering the order of the top 10.
10: Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider. Sold in March 2016 for $17,160,000
Built in 1961, the short-wheel-base California Spider is the same car as featured in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cars ever made. This particular example, chassis number 2871, is one of just 37 Californias made in this style and featured in the 1963 film Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
9: Ferrari 250 LM. Sold in August 2015 for $17,600,000
The 23rd of 32 LMs built by Ferrari, this example from 1964 is chassis number 6105 and was shown off in public at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in 1966. The car was owned in the UK during the Sixties, where it was regularly raced and won, before being shipped to the renowned Matsuda collection in Japan
8: Ferrari 375 Plus Spider Competizione. Sold in July 2014 for $18,400,000
Sold at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2014, this is a Ferrari race car from 1954, just 15 years after the company was founded. The car was raced by Ferrari's own factory team and finished second at the 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race in 1954. Said to be capable of 186mph, the car was later sold to a private collection and raced between 1955 and 1957 by Jim Kimerly, heir to the Kleenex company.
7: Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider. Sold in February 2016 for $18,500,000
Another one of the 37 SWB California Spiders, chassis number 2935 created headlines the world over when it was sold in early 2016, not just for its vast price but because of its terrible condition. Known as a 'barn-find', the car was literally discovered in a barn, dusty, rotten and under a pile of old magazines and newspapers. It had been stored there for 40 years.
Found along with 60 other classic cars, this Ferrari's discovery was described by the auctioneer as like finding the tomb of Tutankhamun.
6. Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale. Sold in August 2014 for $26,400,000
Finished in silver (rare for this list), chassis number 06701 was built in 1965. One of just three ever built, the 275 GTB/C is closely related to the 250 GTO, which features further down this list, and is regarded as one of the most desirable cars ever made. Forbidden from taking part at Le Mans due to Ferrari stating the car as being heavier than it actually was, it was sold to a customer who drove it exclusively on the road through to the late Sixties, when it switched hands several times and briefly lived in London before heading to France for 25 years.
The two other examples of this car remain in the private collections of owners who have said they will never sell them. Should one ever come on the market again, experts believe it has a chance to become the first nine-figure car, reaching $100,000,000.
5: Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Nart Spider. Sold in August 2013 for $27,500,000
Built in 1967 and one of only ten to leave the Ferrari factory, this 275 might not be as widely known as other cars on this list but it is equally significant. The 10 cars were built at the request of Ferrari's North America Racing Team (Nart) which wanted a convertible version of the 275 GTB/4. Originally metallic blue, chassis number 10709 seen here was repainted in a dark red metallic in the 1980s. The car starred in the 1968 Steve McQueen film, The Thomas Crown Affair.
4: Ferrari 290 MM. Sold in December 2015 for $28,050,000
Built for Juan Manuel Fangio to compete in the 1956 Mille Miglia, chassis number 0626 is a V12-engined racing car which finished fourth the 1,000-mile race. It then took part in the 1956 Nurburgring 1,000km where it was driven by future F1 world champion Phil Hill. Only four examples of the 290 MM were ever built, and when it sold in 2015 this one became the most expensive car ever sold by the Sotheby's auction house.
3: Mercedes-Benz W196. Sold in July 2013 for $29,600,000
The only non-Ferrari on the list (and the only in the top 15 most expensive cars sold at auction), this Mercedes was built in 1954, the same year in which it won the French Formula One Grand Prix at the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio. It was the German company's first motorsport win since before World War II and came on the same day that underdog West Germany beat favourites Hungary to win the football World Cup.
Sold in "near barn-find condition", the car is not perfect, but it is the only W196 to be available on the open market and not in the possession of Mercedes or museums. Before the 2013 auction was sold in the 1980s by the Beaulieu motor museum in Hampshire to fund building work; the buyer was Sir Anthony Bamford, chairman of JCB.
2: Ferrari 335S: Sold in February 2016 for $35,711,359
The most recent addition to the list, this 1957 Ferrari set a European auction record when the hammer dropped and fell just short of taking the world record. The car finished second at the 1957 Mille Miglia with Wolfgang von Trips at the wheel. It then returned to the Ferrari factory and was modified to produce 400 horsepower and reach 186mph (300km/h). The car then competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans, where it was driven by future F1 world champion Mike Hawthorn, but retired in the fifth hour with mechanical problems. It was sold to a private collector in 1958 but continued racing, winning that year's Cuban Grand Prix at the hands of Stirling Moss.
1: Ferrari 250 GTO. Sold in August 2014 for $38,115,000
Here it is, the most expensive car ever sold at auction. It is also, unlike many on this list, a car which has been used and raced for almost its entire life. Built in 1962, the car is one of just 39 250 GTOs built by Ferrari and has a long track record, including a second place in that year's Tour de France Automobile.
In 1965, the car was sold to 25-year-old Fabrizio Violati, the son of a family who ran a mineral water company. Violati paid 2,500,000 Lire for it, or just £1,400 (around £22,000/$30,000 today). The young man kept the purchase a secret from his family and at first only drove the car at night. The following decade he took the GTO racing and was later invited by company founder Enzo Ferrari to set up the first dedicated Ferrari museum.
Violati died in 2010 and the car was then housed at the museum until it was put up for auction without a reserve price in 2014.