2018 Retrospective: Five Most Significant Automotive Sold at Auctions in 2018

As 2018 is coming to its end, it’s a good time to take a look at some important events happened in the auction world this year. In the automotive category, a number of new records have been made this year, including the most expensive car – a 1926 Ferrari 250 GTO that sold for a record US$48.4m.

Looking at automotive sales in 2018, some critics noticed that there are more buyers who are buying for the purpose of collecting, instead of the sole purpose of investing for a higher return. These buyers, though more cautious about spending money, can be very generous when the cars are worth the value. Thus, many extremely rare, high-quality cars of well-preserved condition that come with an impeccable provenance were sold for record-setting prices this year. Here are our picks of the five most significant automotive sold at auction in 2018.

Most expensive motorcycle – 1951 Vincent Black Lightning

In January, a classic 1951 Vincent Black Lightning motorcycle that once set an Australian speed record broke another new record at Bonhams in Las Vegas when it was sold for US$929,000, a record price for the most expensive motorcycle ever sold at auction.

It is an extremely rare motorcycle because Vincent Motorcycles was in the business for 27 years only from 1928 to 1955. Built by special order and bore the number 7305 for Australian racing legend Tony McAlpine, the Vincent Black Lightning is one of approximately 30 Black Lightning models ever built by the Stevenage, England factory.

It has 998cc air-cooled, overhead valve 50º V-twin engine, with an official top speed of 122 mph. In 1953, Jack Ehret, the third owner of the Vincent Black Lightning, smashed the existing Australian speed record with an average speed of 141.5 mph riding on it.

1951 Vincent 998cc Black Lightning

Auction house: Bonhams
Sale: The Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction
Auction date: 25 January 2018
Price realised: US$929,000

Most expensive car ever auctioned – 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO

In August, a new auction record for the world’s most valuable car was set by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO when it was sold at RM Sotheby’s annual Monterey sale for a record-smashing US$48.4m.

It is one of the only 36 Ferrari 250 GTOs ever built. The chassis 3413 was one of just four upgraded at the time by Scaglietti and this car was one of only seven to ever receive this more aggressive coachwork.

It was driven by the legendary F1 world champion Phil Hill in the 1962 Targa Florio as a test car, and it came 1st in class at the Targa Florio events in the next two years.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO by Scaglietti

Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Sale: Sotheby's - MONTEREY 2018
Sale date: 25 August 2018
Price realised: US$48,400,000

Most valuable pre-war car and American car: 1935 Duesenberg SSJ

There was another record set during the 2018 Monterey Car Week. The rare 1935 Duesenberg SSJ sold for US$22m at Gooding & Co. auction, setting a record for the most valuable pre-war car ever sold auction, as well as the most expensive American car ever auctioned.

SSJ refers to the short-wheelbase supercharged J. It has a specially shorten, 125-inch wheelbase and a a supercharged straight-eight with double overhead cams, able to produce around 400 horsepower and a top speed of 140 miles per hour.

It is one of the only two SSJ models ever built. The present one was owned by actor Gary Copper and the other had gone to Clark Gable. Copper later sold the car to American race car driver Briggs Cunningham.


Only two SSJ models were built

The present one was owned by Gary Copper

1935 Duesenberg SSJ

Auction house: Gooding & Co.
Sale: Pebble Beach 2018
Auction house: 25 August 2018
Price realised: US$22,000,000

The one and only - Porsche 911 Project Gold

In October, the spotlight of automotive auction fell to The Porsche 70th Anniversary Auction which featured approximately 70 of the world's most important and most sought-after collectible Porsche models, spanning the marque's illustrious 70-year history as a sports car manufacturer.

The centrepiece of the sale was undoubtedly the one and only 911 Project Gold. The offering of “Project Gold” was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity since Porsche had clearly stated they will never build another car like it, as indicated by its series designation “001/001.” 911 Project Gold was sold for a whopping US$3.41m, with proceeds went to the Ferry Porsche Foundation.

2018 Porsche 911 Turbo Classic Series "Project Gold"

Auction house: RM Sotheby's
Sale: Porsche 70th Anniversary Sale
Auction date: 27 October 2018
Price realised: US$3,415,000

A 1956 Ferrari 290 MM sold for US$22m at RM Sotheby’s Petersen Automotive Museum sale in December. It boasts an enviable racing history on three continents with many of the greatest drivers of its decade. It was piloted by the world’s best drivers like Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill and Wolfgang Von Trips.

The Classiche binder itself states that the car maintains its original chassis, the Tipo 130 V-12 fitted to the car by the factory in 1957, its original gearbox, and original body.

1956 Ferrari 290 MM by Scaglietti

Auction house: RM Sotheby's
Sale: The Petersen Automotive Museum Auction
Auction date: 8 December 2018
Price realised: US$22,005,000