At this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, regular attendees and most VIPs soaked in the automotive glory on hand at the Duke of Richmond’s English estate, watching cars tackle the grounds’ hill-climb course and mingling with historic racing vehicles of every stripe. In a quieter corner of the action, the Bonhams auction house was conducting its 50th sale at Goodwood—raking in $42 million in the process (at current exchange rates). Among those sales were the most expensive BMW ever to gavel at auction as well as, fittingly, the priciest British car ever sold in Europe. Check out the 10 most expensive cars hammered home at Goodwood:
10. 1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage X-Pack – $519,211
The V8 Vantage may lack the pedigree of Aston Martin models such as the DB4 or DB5, but that doesn’t make this grand tourer any less lustworthy. This 1989 example is among the last V8 Vantage cars of its generation. With a mere 49,500 miles on its odometer, this blue coupe stands out for its minimal use and well-documented history. Adding to its rarity is the original buyer’s choice to fit it with the X-Pack performance package, which swelled the eight-cylinder engine’s power from about 380 horsepower to approximately 438 ponies. So important was the X-Pack to the V8 Vantage that current Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer had his 1980 V8 Vantage retrofitted to X-Pack specifications. He also was gracious enough to give us a turn behind the wheel of his car.
9. 1954 AC Ace Roadster – $533,989
The Shelby Cobra is such an iconic automobile that it’s easy to forget its origins as the AC Ace. In 1952, John Tojeiro designed and constructed a one-off sports racer that was clearly inspired by the attractive Ferrari 166 barchetta. Its on-track success led AC—an English carmaker that had been around since the first decade of the 20th century—to buy the production rights to the car. The AC Ace appeared for the 1954 model year, eight years before Carroll Shelby launched his Ford V-8–powered version of the roadster.
This car is the first production AC Ace and is believed to have been displayed in chassis form at an October 1953 auto show. Its racing career began in May 1954 at Silverstone, and it remained competitive in sports-car events at least through the end of that decade, winning multiple times at Goodwood. During these years, this Ace received many updates that were bestowed upon its successors, but it retained its AC-built 2.0-liter inline-six (a design that dates back to the early 1920s) even as most production Aces of the period were powered by a stronger, Bristol-built six of the same displacement. This well-documented car had been in the consignor’s family since 1969, where it was driven and received ongoing care and attention, including a multiyear restoration in the 1990s and a rebuilt engine in 2013. Its provenance certainly helped bolster its sale price, but half a million dollars is chump change compared with the $13,750,000 that the first Cobra sold for in 2016.—Rusty Blackwell
8. 1964 Aston Martin DB5 Sports Saloon – $593,101
This DB5 wears its original and quite fetching color scheme of Caribbean Pearl over red leather. The interior is believed to be original, while the exterior has been resprayed—although the work was done at Aston’s Works Service department in Newport Pagnell, so it’s effectively a factory finish. Power comes from a 4.0-liter inline-six topped by triple Weber carburetors and rated at 314 horsepower; it is backed up by a five-speed manual gearbox.
Of course, the DB5 was made famous by its star turn as James Bond’s favorite ride. Every DB5 therefore has that Bond association, although if you want one that actually saw some screen time, you’ll have to pay considerably more than the price realized here—see the sixth-priciest entry on this list to learn just how much more
7. 1960 Ferrari 250GT Coupe – $770,438
Although the 250GT can trace its roots to the early 1950s, the notchback model seen here was first introduced in 1958 and produced through 1960. During that time, Ferrari built a total of 353 of them. Every single one came powered by the company’s 3.0-liter V-12, although the engine was improved with each passing model year. This 1960 250GT coupe originally was delivered to the United States in late 1959 wearing a coat of Grigio Conchiglia gray paint and tan leather insides—the same color scheme it sports today. Elegant and powerful, this Ferrari grand tourer includes more than $150,000 worth of recent work, including a rebuilt engine and a set of model-correct Borrani wire wheels.—Greg Fink
6. 1965 Aston Martin DB5, as featured in the James Bond movie GoldenEye – $2,588,140
Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as James Bond, GoldenEye (1995), includes one of the franchise’s most fun car chases. Okay, so it isn’t a “chase” per se, but bear with us. It begins at the movie’s open, with Bond enjoying a spirited drive through the mountains surrounding Monaco in his silver Aston Martin DB5—with an MI6 psychiatrist assigned to evaluate him seated in the passenger seat. A red Ferrari F355 suddenly fills his rearview mirror and gives “chase,” with Bond and the female Ferrari pilot executing questionable passing maneuvers, drifting around gravel-strewn corners, narrowly avoiding a tractor, and knocking over a line of bicyclists. Presumably this is a form of flirting for Bond, who in any case ends up wooing his flustered psychiatrist passenger at the scene’s terminus. It’s campy, classic Bond at its best.
This DB5, chassis number 1885/R, is one of the two DB5s that were used in that GoldenEye sequence. One of 1021 DB5s produced, 1885/R was purchased by Stratton Motor Company at the behest of Aston Martin and then restored by Stratton both before and after filming. When it went for just over $200,000 to the current owner at a Bond-themed auction in 2001, this DB5 set a world record for the most expensive piece of Bond memorabilia ever sold. (That record is currently held by a different DB5, which was used in Goldfinger and Thunderball and sold for $4.6 million in 2010.) For this Goodwood sale, the DB5 came with a champagne holder and two flutes, a bottle of Bollinger (a prop, sadly), and some additional GoldenEye memorabilia such as signed film scripts. It was purchased by Spyscape, an education and entertainment company that runs a spy museum in New York City.—Daniel Golson
The “Bentley Boys” label may be currently used by a wedding band in Ireland, but originally, it was used to identify a group of playboy racers who drove Bentleys and helped establish part of that brand’s cachet. One of these legends, Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, helped create what’s now one of the most iconic Bentleys ever built: this 4.5-liter supercharged tourer, a.k.a. the Blower Bentley. Birkin’s motivation for adding the supercharger was obvious: He wanted the Bentley to go faster than its competition at the time. Only five of the race cars were built, and only 50 homologation production vehicles were made. This is one of them.
Providing 9.5 pounds of boost at 3500 rpm, the Amherst Villiers Supercharger Mark IV is claimed to have increased power from 110 to 182 horsepower. The big Bentley won no races, but Birkin did place second at the French Grand Prix at Pau. Further adding to its specialness, this example is said to be the last of the original 25-car production run and is one of only five with saloon coachwork.
4. 2012 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport Coupe – $2,698,976
The Super Sport might not be the final version of the Bugatti Veyron—or the most expensive, or the most extravagant—but arguably it is the most significant. With 1200 horsepower from its quad-turbo 8.0-liter W-16 engine (almost 200 horses more than the standard Veyron), improved aerodynamics, a modified suspension, and less weight, the Super Sport set a new production-car top-speed world record of 268 mph when new. That record has since been broken by the Koenigsegg Agera RS, but Bugatti has yet to publicly test the top speed of the Veyron’s successor, the Chiron. So don’t judge quite yet.
This particular Veyron Super Sport is especially significant because it is the last one built out of the 30-car production run, as evidenced by the unsubtle phrase “The Last Super Sport” embroidered on the headrests and written on the doorsills. Finished in sinister matte-black paint over a full red leather interior, this Veyron has covered just 343 miles since new and was sold by its original owner. At the time of our first drive of the model, the Super Sport commanded a price of $2,426,904, which makes this car’s $2.7 million selling price seem like a relative bargain given its rarity and the general price appreciation enjoyed by other Veyron models, not to mention the Chiron’s $2,998,000 starting figure.—Daniel Golson
3. 1957 BMW 507 Roadster – $5,026,522
Single ownership always raises the value of a classic car—and even more so when that owner is British racing legend John Surtees. Surtees won the Formula 1 World Championship driving for Ferrari in 1964 and was a motorcycle World Champion in 1956, ’58, ’59, and ’60 riding for MV Agusta. Surtees purchased this BMW 507 new, splitting the cost with MV Agusta’s Count Agusta. He then had BMW tune up the V-8 engine for more power and fit four-wheel disc brakes. Although Enzo Ferrari made Surtees buy a new Ferrari when he joined the Ferrari team (deducting the cost of the car from his paycheck), Surtees kept the BMW—all the way up until his passing last year.
The price paid here, just over $5 million, not only blew past the pre-auction estimate of $2.6 million to $2.9 million; it’s more than $2 million heftier than the highest price ever paid for a BMW 507 at auction.
2. 1932–34 Alfa Romeo Tipo B Grand Prix Monoposto – $6,060,986
Bonhams calls this Alfa “one of the most important designs in Grand Prix racing history.” In case you didn’t notice, a reference to that watershed automotive construction is partially incorporated into the Alfa’s name: In Italian, Monoposto means single-seater, and it’s referring to this car having a centered seating position with room for only one person. In 1932, the Tipo B became the first successful Grand Prix car of this type. A follow-up to the Tipo A produced by Alfa Romeo’s technical director at the time, the Tipo B was smaller, lighter, more streamlined, and had a 215-hp supercharged straight-eight. Although these vehicles were originally manufactured in Milan, this example is special for having been built with Scuderia Ferrari in Modena. It also won numerous races and was separately owned by renowned collectors Dennis De Ferranti and Richard Shuttleworth.
1. 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato “MP209” – $13,302,239
We often complain about new cars having confusing naming schemes, but this old DB4 Zagato isn’t messing around with the nomenclature overkill. Some call it the Manage Project 209, or MP209, because it was one of three prototypes for a DP214 project car the Aston Martin factory team was working on in 1963 (only 20 DB4GT Zagatos were built in total). At the Feltham factory where it was being developed, it was also called the Super Lightweight or the GTSL. Others simply refer to it as the 2VEV, referring to its U.K. registration number. Belting out its entire official name—you can read it above—takes a few breaths.
Owned by a single family for its entire 47-year life, 2VEV was, at one point, driven by Jim Clark in 1962 in the RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood and in the Paris 1000 at Montlhéry. That, in addition to numerous other factors, makes it one of the most valuable and desired Aston Martins in the world—and the priciest ever sold at a European auction.