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The Most Expensive Car Ever Sold Is...

Posted: May 20, 2008 10:55 a.m.

The most expensive car sale in history took place last Sunday.  Carscoop reports that the world record was set "when RM Auctions, in association with Sotheby’s, managed to auction a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder for a mind blowing $10,976,000."  The car, once owned by actor James Coburn, was bought by U.K. radio personality Chris Evans. 

In sleek, glossy black, it's unquestionably a beautiful car.  But even vintage car experts' jaws dropped at the sale price.  Autoblog reports, "The initial estimate from RM Auctions was nearly half the sale price." 

Motor Trend tells us, "The Pininfarina-designed car features a 3.0-liter 12-cylinder engine making 280 horsepower."

According to Wikipedia's current entry on the car, about 55 were ever built.  We haven't found an estimate of how many are in working condition.

And no, the one wrecked in Ferris Bueller's Day Off wasn't real -- just a Hollywood copy.

The eye-popping sales price got us wondering…what on the current automotive market could Evans have had for his dollar?

The obvious answer is the next Ferrari California.  The storied Italian automaker is reviving the nameplate for a beautiful 2009 droptop, which, the Los Angeles Times tells us, will feature "a folding hard top, a 4.3-liter V-8 engine that develops an impressive 460 horsepower, a seven-speed gearbox and a zero-to-60-mph time of under four seconds."  That's 180 hp more than Evans' new car.  And for his $11 million, he could have bought about 27 of them.  The projected cost of the new California is just under $400,000.

But Evans' purchase has more exclusivity.  What if he'd wanted that more than anything else?

Bugatti will build only 80 of its new Veyron Targa hardtop convertible.  They are expected to cost around $2 million, so for the price he paid for the 250 GT, Evans could have bought five.  That, by the way, would have netted him 5,005 horsepower.

If performance was his issue, he could have bought himself about 50 Lamborghini Gallardos to outrun his California in a straight line, or 180 Lotus Exiges to outperform it in the corners.

Just for fun, we'll look at the cheap cars, too.

Evans could have had 949 Smart Fortwos -- room to transport almost 1,900 people in tiny little cars. He could have bought over 1,100 Chevy Aveos.  Then, he would have had more than 113,300 total horsepower in his (very large) garage.

The best selling car in the United States last year was the Toyota Camry.  He could have bought one of those for himself, and one each for his closest 580 friends. 

But Evans is British.  The U.K.'s best selling car is the European version of the Ford Focus.  He could have had more than 640 of those.

Lastly, we'll note that he could simply have bought a decent share of the company.  At the prices available at close yesterday, Evans could have bought 576,575 shares of Fiat Group spA, Ferrari's parent company.  With that big an interest, he could have probably asked them to build him two copies of the black Spyder.

Find something a little more affordable with U.S. News' car rankings and reviews.

Now, tell us, what's your dream car -- and would you pay $11 million for it if you had the money to spend?