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Classic 1955 Mercedes-Benz sells for world record $203m

This is the most expensive car ever sold in the world and it's possible you've never heard of it

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The record for the most expensive car ever sold has been smashed to absolute smithereens, and this time it wasn’t another Ferrari, which previously occupied eight of the 10 most expensive vehicle sales recorded.

Mercedes-Benz, the company that brought us the very first motor car in 1886, has sold one of its treasured Silver Arrows 300 SLR “Uhlenhaut coupe” racing cars for 135 million euros (AUD$203m, USD$142m).

Not only does this sale make it the most expensive car ever sold, it places the German automobile within the top 10 most expensive items ever sold at auction. A list which primarily features artwork and jewellery. Until now.

One of only two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupes produced, this car was sold at an exclusive, invite-only auction at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany for an incredible £114 million or AUD$203,000,000. When we say exclusive, we mean it. Only 10 wealthy collectors were invited and flown to Stuttgart for the auction. There’s a catch though. The successful highest bidder had to sign a contract that they would not re-sell the car.

With a starting bid already higher than the previous record holder, a Ferrari 250 GTO, bidders knew this auction was going to make history.

The 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was named after its creator and chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who drove the car to European events. It’s been owned by Mercedes from new, covering 3,756 miles in nearly seven decades. 

When Mercedes-Benz cancelled its racing programme after the Le Mans disaster, the hybrid project was shelved. Company design chief Rudolf Uhlenhaut, architect of both the 300 SLR racer and the hybrids, appropriated one of the leftover mules as his personal car. Capable of approaching 290 km/h (180 mph), the Uhlenhaut Coupé was by far the fastest road car in the world in its day.

While neither 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was raced they did feature an upgraded 302bhp 3.0-litre straight-eight taken from the iconic two-time Grand Prix World Championship-winning W 196 R, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio.

Two of the nine 300 SLR rolling chassis produced were converted into 300 SLR/300 SL hybrids. Effectively road legal racers, they had coupé styling, gull-wing doors, and a footprint midway between the two models.

The top 10 most expensive cars ever sold now stands as follows:

1. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe: AUD$203,319,100

2. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO: AUD$67,595,307

3. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO: AUD$53,225,806

4. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti: AUD$49,853,372

5. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196: AUD$41,335,008

6. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM: AUD$39,170,506

7. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spider: AUD$38,402,457

8. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale by Scaglietti: AUD$36,866,359

9. 1956 Aston Martin DBR1: AUD$31,490,015

10. Ferrari 290 MM: AUD$30,728,948

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Mark Trueno
Mark Trueno

Mark Trueno is a CarExpert Contributor.

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