Top Car Auctions: Celebrity Cars that Were Sold for Millions
Car collectors will shell out big money for a vintage vehicle that they love, and if that car was owned by a celebrity, they’re often willing to pay much more. Although the actual value of the car does bear consideration, vehicles associated with famous names have been known to sell for millions of dollars at car auctions. The following eight vehicles fetched some of the highest price tags in history—thanks to the prominence of their owners.
8. Clark Gable’s 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
Clark Gable bought this classic for $7,295 in Hollywood, and Barret-Jackson Auction Company sold it at auction decades later for $2,035,000. One of only 1,400 produced, the Gullwing sports custom quirks added by Gable, including a wood and chrome Nardi steering wheel and Rudge knockoff wheels.
In addition to being owned by Gable, a three-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner for the movie “It Happened One Night,” the car likely fetched such a high price thanks to the complete set of original papers that came with it. From Gable’s signature on the registration to a service order for a lube, oil change and parts, these papers provide concrete proof of ownership and add to the story of the vehicle.
7. John Lennon’s 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Limousine
What started as a 19-foot, black Rolls-Royce in 1965 became a psychedelic wonder by the time John Lennon was done with it. Over the course of his ownership, the limousine-style car was outfitted with a television, refrigerator, phone, and record player. It even had its backseat converted to a double bed and was painted bright yellow before being detailed by hand with a variety of colorful designs. It was this vehicle that transported the Beatles to the premiere of “Help!” and was later sold at auction in 1985 by Sotheby’s for $2,299,000.
6. The Fred Astaire 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Scaglietti Spyder
With its 260-horsepower four-cylinder engine and dual Weber carburetors, the Ferrari driven on screen by Fred Astaire in “On the Beach” had enough power to establish an impressive history at the racetrack. Only 35 of the cars were ever built, and this particular vehicle won 22 races between 1955 and 1956.
Known for his show-stopping dance numbers, Astaire added to this car’s fame simply by getting behind the wheel onscreen. It’s no wonder that it wound up selling for $2,530,000 when RM Auctions put it up for sale at Pebble Beach in 2011.
5. James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5
The car that debuted in “Goldfinger” captured the hearts and the imaginations of James Bond fans everywhere. Two cars were actually delivered for the film, one of which was left as-is to be used for driving scenes. The other was outfitted with a range of Bond gadgets for Sean Connery’s character to use in the films. Unfortunately, this car was stolen in 1997 and hasn’t been seen since. The other car was later purchased by Jerry Lee and modified to include all the original bells and whistles, such as tire shredders, front machine guns and a revolving number plate. It was this car that sold for $4,608,500 in 2010.
4. Andy Warhol’s 1955 Ferrari 857 Sport
This racing vehicle was modified and upgraded repeatedly during its history, starting as a 750 Monza chassis with a Tipo 129 engine sporting a light-alloy block head and twin overhead camshafts. Although it didn’t go quite as fast as some racing enthusiasts would have liked, it was still successful enough to develop a strong reputation. The car was apparently sold to pop artist Andy Warhol at one point, a distinction that may be partly responsible for its $6,270,000 auction price tag.
3. Steve McQueen’s 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4
A vehicle with 300 horsepower, a V-12 engine, and six carburetors is just the sort of car you’d expect Steve McQueen to drive. Delivered directly to the set of “Bullit,” the GTB/4 was just one of the many vehicles in which McQueen performed a variety of his own onscreen stunts. Ferrari Classiche restored the entire car in 2013, certified it and confirmed its legendary history, earning it a $10,175,000 selling price at a 2014 auction held by RMA Auctions.
2. James Coburn’s 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder
When a car is owned by such a notable actor as Academy Award winner James Coburn and driven around in the company of Steve McQueen and James Garner on a regular basis, it’s bound to pique the interest of collectors. The V-12 engine boasts 280 horsepower, and telescopic shocks can be found in both the front and rear suspensions. Coburn enjoyed these features on daily drives to and from movie studios. Over the course of his 25-year ownership, he elected to paint the car dark blue, silver and finally burgundy. By the time it hit the auction block in Italy in 2008, the car had such a famous reputation that it fetched $10,894,900.
1. Steve McQueen’s 1968 Ford GT40
Sporting a 440-horsepower V-8 engine and a five-speed manual gearbox, this GTO had the speed that Steve McQueen wanted for the racing shots in “Le Mans.” The vehicle also boasts a racing history that includes a line of drivers such as David Hobbs and Mike Hailwood. Being only one of three lightweight production GTO40s ever made means that the vehicle is even more rare and special. It was sold at auction in 2012 with the original 1967 Mirage bodywork for an impressive $11,000,000.
These are only a few of the celebrity cars that have fetched high prices at auction. As long as prominent figures in the entertainment world cruise around in noteworthy vehicles, the list will keep getting longer.
Do you have a favorite that wasn’t mentioned?
Are there any other famous cars that you think should be on the list?