Having started in the bargain basement, we’re now at the top of the tree
In this series we’ve gone from £1,000 to £25,000 in our buying guides. In between, we’ve looked at £2,000, £3,000, £5,000, £10,000 and £20,000 budgets. And now we’re in dreamland, but it’s OK to dream, isn’t it?
The cars here are some of the most valuable and sought-after in the world and, frankly, only multi-millionaires need apply. The rest of us, meanwhile, can only watch on and hope that our numbers come up one day.
For classic cars that you can afford, visit our for sale section.
Something of a seminal supercar, the McLaren F1, which launched in 1992, changes hands today for somewhere between £4-8 million. It was penned by legendary designer Gordon Murray and went on to set the record for the fastest production car in the world at the time, hitting 242mph. It held the record until 2005, when the Bugatti Veyron hit 253mph.
One of its quirks was its three-seat design, with the driver sitting in the middle slightly forward of the two passenger seats either side. The idea was that it gave the pilot better visibility. It was designed to be the ultimate road car and it succeeded – it also had success on the track, including winning the Le Mans 24 hour race in 1995.
It had a six-year production run, yet just 106 cars were built, giving rise, combined with its landmark status, to its hefty value today.
A step up in price, but still in the single millions, is the Mercedes-Benz SSK. A roadster built between 1928 and 1932, it’s valued at a mere £5-7 million. It had extreme performance and was successful on the track.
Notably, it was the last car that Ferdinand Porsche designed before he left to found his own company, you may have heard of it. The SSK had a supercharged engine of a whopping seven litres, producing between 200-300hp. It took the car to 120mph, the fastest of its day.
Its history, competitive success and rarity – fewer than 40 were built – all count towards the car’s huge value today.
As starting points for excellent road cars go, the Jaguar D-Type racer is a good one. That’s where the XKSS was born and the road car project started when Jag pulled out of competition at the end of 1956. That left it with a selection of completed and partly completed D-Types that it didn’t know what to do with.
So, in an attempt to claw back some of its investment in building them in the first place, it was decided to convert them into road-going cars, aimed in particular at the American market.
In February 1957 a fire broke out at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory and nine of the 25 cars that were either ready or being worked on were destroyed. The ones that survived were sold in the USA. With only 16 examples in existence, it’s not hard to see why they change hands for £8-10 million.
And, in March 2016, Jaguar announced that it would build the ‘missing’ nine cars to make up the original plans for a run of 25. They’re expected to go for more than £1 million each.
Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
Into the double-millions now with this absolutely beautiful piece of British automotive engineering. The Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato came into being in the autumn of 1960 – it was a lightened version of the standard DB4GT, fettled by Italian firm Zagato.
There were plans for 25 cars, but, oddly, demand wasn’t there and production stopped at 20. So its rarity value goes some way to explaining the fact that it commands values in the region of £10 million today.
The car had a 3.7-litre straight-six engine, putting out 314hp for a 60mph time of 6.1 seconds and a 154mph top whack. Much like the aforementioned Jaguar XKSS, the model run was added to much later in life, with four unused chassis numbers being completed in July 1991. They had a larger 4.2-litre engine and smaller wheels.
Ferrari 250 GTO
And finally, the daddy of them all.
The Ferrari 250 GTO can lay claim to being the world’s most valuable car. One example sold for a record £27 million ($38 million) in 2014 and cars regularly change hands between the super-rich for figures in that ballpark. It heads a list of extremely valuable Ferraris in the tens of millions.
The 250 GTO was produced from 1962 to 1964 and was made to meet homologation rules – which stipulated that road-going versions of race cars had to be made to meet entry rules – as it embarked on GT racing. Its name comes from that process – 250 being the displacement of each cylinder in the engine and GTO standing for Gran Turismo Omologato, which is Italian for Grand Touring Homologated.
At launch it cost a mere $18,000 in the USA, with Enzo Ferrari personally vetting buyers. Just 39 were built and anyone who was lucky enough to buy one early and keep hold of it was in for the best investment of their life.
About 10 years after it was first made, classic car values started to soar and, seen as the car that most completely embodied what Ferrari was all about, combined with its rarity, the GTO’s value rocketed. Famous owners include fashion guru Ralph Lauren and Nick Mason, of Pink Floyd fame.