Car auctions are always exciting, but some of the rarest and most extraordinary cars we see at these events are cars used in various classic films. Rarity is one of the most sought-after qualities in the classic car world, but the fact that a car has been in a popular movie can send its price stratospherically high. Surprisingly, however, some cars featured in lesser-known films have been known to fetch enormous prices that put more famous machines to shame.
While it’s easy to rank these cars by their auction price, some cars are a little cooler than others. In terms of style, performance and overall impact, the most expensive movie cars sold at auction are so high and why collectors were willing to pay so much to own them.
10 1928 Mercedes-Benz S 26/180 Boattail Speedster (Sylvia Scarlett)
This car has an amazing pedigree. It belonged to the Marx Brothers and was used in the 1935 film Sylvia Sharlett. The comedy stars Katherine Hepburn as a con artist posing as a man with Cary Grant as her partner. The couple drive this 180 Boattail Speedster, aptly named for its wide frame and powerful 180hp six-cylinder engine.
It sold for a whopping $3.7 million in 2012. And while it might be a bit big to drive on some roads today, its Hollywood history alone makes it nearly priceless.
9 1966 Batmobile (Batman)
It must be fun owning one of the coolest cartoon cars of all time. One of the models used for the old Adam West TV show and its 1966 big-screen edition, this Batmobile looks great with its fun design, and it’s no wonder it sold for $4.6 million.
However, the blunt truth is that beneath the cool looks, this is a 1955 Lincoln that weighs over 5500 pounds. And while it offers a 360-hp V8, it can be a bit of a drag to drive. While it’s great to look at, it’s not exactly a car to use when not fighting crime.
8th Porsche 917K (LeMans)
The amazing thing about this car is the story behind it. The film Le Mans was Steve McQueen’s attempt to tell the story of the famous race. However, the production went over budget and turned out to be a box office flop.
The highlight was the rare Porsche 917K, which served as a test drive for scenes. The car belonged to driver Jo Siffert until he died in a car accident. Lost for years, it was eventually found, restored, and sold for a whopping $14 million. Although it had a different engine, the McQueen name contributed to the high selling price.
7 Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger)
There have been countless fantastic rides used in the James Bond films, but one stands out above the rest. Appropriate, because it comes from the best Bond film. Fans still quote Gadget Master Q showing Bond his Aston Martin DB5 with machine guns and an ejection seat with the classic line: “I never joke about my work, 007!”
While the real car doesn’t have those gimmicks, it does feature a fine 4.0-liter straight-six that produces up to 325 horsepower. It’s also a luxurious drive, drives beautifully and is an icon for Aston Martin that has never been quite surpassed. The DB5 featured in golden finger Sold at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2010 for $6.4 million.
6 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe (Redline 7000)
It shouldn’t come as a shock that a Shelby Cobra costs nearly $8 million. However, this model is unique in that it is one of the first instances of product placement in film. The 1965 film was written and directed by the legendary Howard Hawks Redline 7000 focused on a group of young stock car racers.
The film used real car races and accidents in the midst of the storyline and used this amazing Cobra Coupe that was specially designed for it. The 4.7-liter V8 got a whopping 385 hp and pushed 400. The movie may be forgotten, but no one could overlook this grandiose creation.
5 1956 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta (The Love Bug)
To name The Love Bug, and most think of Herbie, the lovable, sentient VW. Another car co-star, however, was the fantastic 1956 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta. The climax of the film is Herbie taking on the arrogant millionaire villain in his vintage Ferrari.
The point is how the VW seems completely out of its league against a stunning machine with a 3.0 liter engine producing almost 300hp and an incredible racing history. Of course, Herbie wins while the Ferrari suffers a bad fate. With only nine sold, it’s no surprise that the car featured in the film fetched a whopping $6.71 million.
4 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta (lucky to be a woman)
It takes a lot to catch the attention of a young Sophia Loren on screen. In this 1956 film (originally titled La Fortuna di Essere Donna), Loren is a woman who ends up being photographed for a magazine, setting in motion a complex series of events.
Several scenes are set at a race track with Charles Boyer and feature this beautiful Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta. With a rare-for-the-time 340hp V12 and impressive racing style, it’s no wonder it sold for $4.7 million in 2010 for a car as gorgeous as the film’s leading lady.
3 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder (On the Beach)
You wouldn’t expect a fantastic ride from a post-WWIII film set, but it happened. The 1959 drama At the beach focused on a Navy ship in Australia, where people live their lives knowing the end is near. Fred Astaire’s scientist passionately drives this beautiful 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder and enjoys the time he has in it.
It’s no wonder he’d love it, considering the car has a 260hp 4-cylinder engine and a 5-speed gearbox. In addition, only 35 were built. The car featured in the film sold for $2.5 million. If there’s a car to spend your final days in, this is it.
2 1968 Ford Gulf GT40 (Le Mans)
For a time, this GT40 was the most expensive car ever sold at auction (at a staggering $11 million) and is also part of one of the most popular car movies of all time. Steve McQueen, a well-known gearhead, starred in this drama set in the famous auto race and drove much of his own drive.
This version of the 1968 Ford Gulf GT40 was specially modified for the film, the 4.27 liter supercharged V8 developing over 500 horsepower, with terrific handling. It was built for McQueen, and while it was too much to handle for some, it offered a beautiful ride to elevate a classic racing film, so no wonder it fetched a record retail price.
1 1968 Ford Mustang GT390 (Bullitt)
An episode of the popular CBS drama Blue blood had the police try to track down someone who claimed to own the legendary “Bullitt car”. To this day, car fans are still enthralled by the 1968 film masterpiece starring Steve McQueen as a police officer pursuing a crime syndicate.
Alongside McQueen, the star was the 1968 Mustang GT390, which was used in what is arguably the greatest cinema chase of all time. It’s as perfect as a muscle car can get, from the style to the aggressive stance and that awesome 325-horsepower 6.4-liter V8. It sold for a whopping $3.7 million in 2020, but that still seems too low for a piece of cinema and automotive history.
Sources: forbes.com, money.inc, hemmings.com, motorauthority.com.