Last month, Mercedes-Benz set the record for the most expensive car sold at auction with the 1955 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé, which eventually grossed about $143 million.
The German luxury automaker held the private auction at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
In recent decades, one-off, small and retro cars have found a second (and sometimes third) life through auctions.
Barrett-Jackson is one of the more well-known names in the space, specializing in collector car auctions since its founding in 1971.
Here is a list of the top 10 most expensive cars sold through auction at Barrett-Jackson.
10. 1969 Chevrolet Corvette No. 57 Rebel – $2,860,000
One of four lightweight versions of the L88 Corvette, the No. 57 Rebel had a 7.0-liter V8 engine and a four-speed manual transmission that produced over 500 horsepower. The Rebel was ordered by Or Costanzo, a driver for Dave Heinz Racing, where the car raced in several IMSA-sanctioned races throughout the 1970s.
At the time, GM Chevrolet had banned racing, so these cars were built in secret. After being in museums and participating in vintage races, it was sold at auction in 2014.
9. 1948 Tucker Torpedo – $2,915,000
The Torpedo, also known as the Tucker 48, was a car developed by automotive engineer Preston Tucker, who wanted to build a futuristic car to compete with the Big 3 automakers after World War II.
Despite producing a car that attracted a lot of attention, financing problems and an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission caused the Tucker Corporation to go bankrupt in 1949 with only 51 cars produced. This one was sold at auction in 2012.
8. 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray VIN 001 – $3,000,000
The first mid-engined Corvette to roll off the production line, the 2020 model is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. That combination makes 490 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.
This was a charity auction, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Detroit Children’s Fund.
7. 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 GM Concept Car – $3,240,000
In 1954, General Motors designer Bill Lange wanted to develop a sports car under the Oldsmobile brand that could compensate for the poor sales of the Corvette. It featured a “Rocket V8” engine capable of 250 horsepower.
Only four pre-production models were built, one of which has survived. It was auctioned in 2005.
6. 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special Concept Car – $3,300,000
After reviewing speed trials at the Bonneville Salt Flats, GM designer Harley Earl came up with the Pontiac Bonneville Special Motorama Concept Car. Only two cars were built, one in green and one in bronze. They were unveiled simultaneously in Los Angeles and New York, respectively.
The Bonneville Special has gone through the auction process twice, selling for $3,024,000 in 2005 and $3,300,000 in 2015.
5. 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 VIN 001 – $3,600,000
The latest Corvette Z06, in this case the first off the production line and the 70th Anniversary Edition, has a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V8 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive.
The total amount of the auction price, or hammer price, went to Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans and their families in civilian life.
4. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 – $3,850,000
Built with a racing focus, only 20 copies of the 1967 Corvette L88 were produced. The car, with its V8 engine and four-speed manual transmission, was rated at 500 to 600 hp.
The 1967 L88 was sold at auction in 2014.
3. 1950 General Motors Futurliner – $4.4 million
This bus was conceived and designed by GM’s Earl and is officially known as the 1950 Futurliner Parade or Progress Tour Bus, one of several buses GM built and used to tour the country as a compliment to the annual Motorama event.
Each one built weighed about 30,000 pounds and was themed. The theme of this one was the ‘March of Tools’. The bus was auctioned twice, once in 2015 for $4 million and again the following year for $4.4 million.
2. #1 Batmobile – $4.620,000
Utilizing the bodywork of a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, the original Batmobile was built for use in the Batman TV show broadcast on ABC from 1966 to 1968 by custom automaker George Barris.
Three other cars were built for promotional purposes. After the show ended, Barris kept the car in his shop until he decided to put it up for auction in 2013.
1. 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake – $5,500,000
Reportedly the last Shelby American-built “Super Snake” exists, this Cobra has a twin-supercharged V8 engine and a three-speed automatic transmission. It was originally specified as a factory 427 competition model before being upgraded to a Super Snake in 1967.
The Super Snake has auctioned three times through Barrett-Jackson auctions, selling for $5.5 million in 2007, $5,115,000 in 2015, and $5.5 million in 2021.