The primal urge for speed, the low growl of the revving engine waiting to be unleashed and the blinding passion for high-performance machines have made the history of automobiles and motorsports a rich and storied chronicle. Men and women around the world have been enthralled by these powerful machines that ooze style, elegance, luxury and sophistication. No other vehicle has been used as a symbol of status, power and elitism as the motorcar. Over the last 128 years of motoring history, countries and corporations have competed to build and drive the fastest, largest, most expensive and most stylish cars. Trillions of dollars are spent in building and racing high-performance cars for a dual glory that goes to both driver and manufacturer.
Our list of vintage cars that embody luxury are selected from a wide range of automobiles – concept cars, racers, touring cars, roadsters and town cars. Each car has a special place in automotive history although a few of them – such as the Bugatti Royale Type 41 Kellner Coupe and the 1954 Mercedes W 196R remain inaccessible to the public. Every one of these cars embodies a spirit of luxury that comes from visionary engineering and superb performance that define how an automobile is experienced, perceived and eventually, leaves its mark on history. The selection of cars comes from across some of the greatest motoring nations including Germany, France, Italy and the United States.
10 The 1932 Alfa Romeo Tipo B: $5.6 Million
9 The 1929 Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSK: $7.4 Million
8 The 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe: $7.7 Million
7 The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder: $8.6 Million
6 The 1947 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster: $9 Million
5 The 1931 Bugatti Royale Type 41 Kellner Coupe: $9.8 Million
4 The 1931 Duesenberg Model J: $10.3 Million
3 The 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa: $27.5 Million
2 1954 Mercedes W196R: $29,601,500
1 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic: $40 Million
When the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic was designed, few people thought that there would only be four cars produced. Today, only two remain and are believed to be the last of the true ‘future cars’. Crafted from a combination of Elektron—a magnesium alloy and Duralumin— aluminum alloy, the car owes its distinctive design to the central ribbed ‘spine’ and exterior riveting. Timeless futuristic styling, extreme rarity and a construction technique that has never been replicated places the Atlantic at the top of a list of luxury vintage cars. The distinctive design of the 57SC Atlantic combines elements from the 1930's with the sleek elegance of form that would only be seen over 25 years later in the late 1950's and 1960's. With one of the last two originals owned by connoisseurs, the car’s market value rose to over $30 million and the last original was sold to a private collector for $40 million, making it the most expensive luxury vintage car ever sold.
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