The least expensive still sold for over six and a half million dollars.
Last year wasn't the strongest year for the collector car market, and the biggest signifier of that was Monterey Car Week. The 2018 auctions ended with a total of $371 million in sales, which was up 13 percent over 2017. However, 2019 saw just $245.5 million in sales. Whether you put it down to nervousness of the economy, too many cars in one place, or a lack of interest, one thing is certain: The Porsche Type 64 is not on this list, despite going to auction with the incredible hype that surrounded its status as the earliest antecedent of the modern 911. It's the only one of three models that existed and was the personal car of both Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferry Porsche. By estimation, the Type 64 should have been the highest-selling car at auction for 2019, and the most expensive Porsche sold, but mistakes were made during the bidding, and the sale was canceled. Instead, the top slot was taken by a McLaren model.
RM Sotheby's auction in Abu Dhabi was centered around the F1 circus visiting the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The 2002 Ferrari F2002 race cr on offer was driven to victory at the San Marino, Austrian, and French Grand Prix by Michael Schumacher in 2002 during the campaign that secured his fifth World Championship title. The car didn't start the season until the third round, though, as Ferrari chose to use the updated F2001 model from the year before and make sure the F2002 was up to scratch. Despite selling for $6,643,750, that wasn't the highest price paid for a car that week.
This closed headlight example of the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet was sold by Gooding & Company at the Monterey auctions. The Ferrari 250 GT was designed by Pininfarina and powered by a V12 engine making just under 250 horsepower. It's widely considered one of the most beautiful sports cars of the 1950s and was the 14th of only 40 Series I Cabriolet versions built, which makes it even rarer than the California Spider. This one is fully restored to the original specifications and color, including the factory optioned side vents, bumperettes, and covered headlights. It was expected to sell for over $7,000,000 but ended up going for just shy of $6,800,000.
The Pagani Zonda Aether Roadster beat out Micheal Schumacher's F1 Ferrari to be the most expensive car sold at the Abu Dhabi auction event and also became the most expensive Pagani car on the planet. Any Pagani is rare at auction, but this one is an even rarer roadster version of the 760 Series and features the even more unique "760"-spec engine. The engine is a 7.3-liter V12 engine sending 750 hp through a manual transmission. It was originally estimated that the Pagani Zonda Aether would sell for $4,500,000 but strode all the way up to $6,812,500.
The first short-wheelbase Ferrari 250 GT on the list is a late-production "Lusso" model with coachwork by Scaglietti. This one is right from the tail end of the 166 SWB cars produced, which means it benefits from a larger windscreen, leather-covered dashboard, and more comfortable seats. It's also one of only 96 steel-bodied Lusso SWB Berlinetta models made. How much value Nicolas Cage being a former owner added is debatable, but it sold for less than the Hagerty Price Guide value and, ultimately, for $7,595,000.
The Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype is an absolute unicorn of a car, and the most expensive American car sold in 2019. This one was number eight of 12 GT40 prototypes built and the first of only five that were roadsters. It's also the only one to have survived in its original form and was driven by Carroll Shelby, Ken Miles, Jim Clark, Sir John Whitmore, and Dickie Atwood. It was also used for exhibition and promotional purposes by Shelby's Cobra team, and Shelby even showed it at the 3rd Annual South Course Concours d'Elegance in Newport Beach. It was sold in Monterey by RM Sotheby's for $7,650,000.
The second short-wheelbase Ferrari 250 GT on this list sold for more than the first, but still went for over a million dollars below its $9,000,000 high bid when it was last sold at Gooding & Company's 2016 Pebble Beach sale. It's fully restored, and Ferrari Classiche certified and came with a full set of books and tools, but that didn't help the price. It also features a Rosso Vaumol leather interior under Grigio Argento paint. This time, it was sold at RM Sotheby's Monterey 2019 event for $8,145,000.
This one has had some press over the past few years as part of a haul seized by the Swiss authorities from the son of the despotic president of Equatorial Guinea. Only nine units of the Lamborghini Veneno Roadster were made, each delivering 7500 horsepower from its 6.5-liter V12 at a screaming 8,500 rpm. Lamborghini immediately sold them all for $3,300,000 each, but this one sold on the banks of Lake Geneva in Switzerland for $8,337,182. Thankfully, the previous owner didn't make the profit.
Despite a suffering market, Ferrari's California Spiders are still king, and this one was the 11th of 50 long-wheelbase California Spiders built. It's also one of an even smaller amount fitted with the desirable covered headlights from the factory. This one was also raced in the 1960s, mainly in SCCA events in Florida. Selling for just shy of ten million dollars, the buyer will likely find a profit in a few years. It sold at the Gooding Pebble Beach auction in 2019 for $9,905,000.
The oldest car on the list is one of only 5 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B models built with Carrozzeria Touring Berlinetta coachwork. It's a pre-war masterpiece built shortly before World War II eviscerated Europe and predates Ferrari as the epitome of elegant automotive design. Under the hood is a 2.9-liter inline-8 engine with a pair of superchargers elegantly bolted to it. It sold at the Artcurial Paris Retromobile auction in 2019 for a staggering $18,563,605 but still doesn't beat the record for an Alfa Romeo set by Lungo Spider version that sold for $19,800,000 in 2016.
The most expensive car purchased at auction in 2019 also set a record for the McLaren marque. Only 64 McLaren F1 cars were built, and, of those only two were built to LM-Specification. The LM stands for Le Mans, and once it was built, McLaren fitted a 680-hp GTR engine, extra aero, new headlight, and race-spec dampers. Conversely, the interior was upgraded with more creature comforts that included upgraded air conditioning. It took four bidders just under five minutes to drive the price up to an astonishing $19,805,000. That also makes it the most expensive post-1960s car sold at auction and the 14th-most expensive car ever publicly sold.