Coming soon: The $100 million car?

Sales of collectible automobiles hit an all-time record this year, leading some to speculate that soaring prices could lead to a huge deal.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 11, 2013 3:15PM
Bonhams employees replace the cover of the Mercedes-Benz W196 einsitzer ahead of its auction by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed at Goodwood near Chichester in southern England © Luke MacGregor/ReutersBy Robert Frank, CNBC

Wealthy car collectors spent like never before in 2013.

Auction sales of collectible cars in the U.S. are set to top $1.2 billion this year, an all-time record that's up 25 percent from 2012, according to Hagerty Insurance, the largest insurer of collectible cars. The 2013 total is nearly double the pre-financial crisis level for car auction sales.

While the number of cars sold ticked up 10 percent, to more than 19,500, the average price per car sold jumped 13 percent to $61,000 from $54,000.

The average price, however, masks the huge spike at the top end of the collector car market, where vintage Ferraris, Mercedes and Porsches are regularly fetching eight figures. Four of the top five most expensive collector cars ever sold at auction were sold in 2013.

Hagerty's Ferrari index, which features more than a dozen of the most sought-after Ferraris, soared 18 percent, making Ferraris by far the most expensive category. But German cars are quickly catching up, with Hagerty's German car index --  which includes Porsche, Mercedes and BMW -- soaring 33 percent in 2013.

McKeel Hagerty, president and chief executive of Hagerty, said that despite the huge price run-ups, he sees few signs of a bubble in collector cars.

"Supply and demand are still driving prices," he said. "You have more millionaires being created, and a small number of these top-quality cars. It's also generational. The people who made large wealth are at a point in their lives when they want to collect these cars."

He said unlike other bubble periods -- like the early 1990s, which was fueled by Japanese buyers -- this market is far more diversified and global.

Still, Hagerty said, this year was such a big year for cars that "I wouldn't be surprised" if prices cooled a little next year.

The big news in 2013 was the race between a 1967 Ferrari and a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R to become the most expensive car ever sold at auction. The Ferrari was expected to win the prize at an RM Auctions sale in Monterey, Calif., this summer. But just weeks before the sale, the Mercedes race car sold at a Bonhams auction for an unexpectedly high $29.7 million. The Ferrari ended up selling just short of that number, for $27.5 million.

While collectible car experts say there are plenty of cars that have sold in private, nonauction sales for more than $30 million, those sales are difficult to verify.

Car sale for $100 million?

Hagerty said there will likely be a sale of a car for $100 million or more in the next three to five years. While there are several cars currently for sale at $100 million or more, none have traded for that amount yet.

"In the next three to five years, we will see a $100 million car," Hagerty said. He added the $100 million sale would likely be a Ferrari GTO -- "the holy grail of cars," since only 39 were built.

Here are the top five most expensive cars sold in 2013, and the most expensive cars ever sold at auction.

2013 top five classic car auction sales

  1. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R—$29,700,000 (Bonhams, July 2013)
  2. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spyder—$27,500,000 (RM, August 2013)
  3. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM—$14,300,000 (RM, November 2013)
  4. 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta Competizione—$12,800,000 (RM, May 2013)
  5. 1957 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Berlinetta—$9,460,000 (Gooding, August 2013) 

Top 10 most expensive classic cars sold at public auction

  1. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R—$29,700,000 (Bonhams,July 2013)
  2. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spyder—$27,500,000 (RM, August 2013)
  3. 1957 Ferrari 250 TR Prototype—$16,390,000 (Gooding, August 2011)
  4. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM—$14,300,000 (RM, November 2013)
  5. 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta Competizione—$12,800,000 (RM, May 2013)*
  6. 1957 Ferrari 250 TR—$12,402,500 (Gooding, May 2009)
  7. 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster—$11,770,000 (Gooding, August 2012)
  8. 1960 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Competizione Spyder—$11,275,000 (Gooding, August 2012)
  9. 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Coupe—$11,000,000 (RM, August 2012)
  10. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB—$10,910,592 (May 2008)

More from CNBC
Dec 11, 2013 5:06PM
I kick myself for some of the cars that I've sold cheap and thought I did good getting what I did out of them. I should of held on to them all.
Dec 11, 2013 5:57PM
Yugo is re-entering the market with a station wagon,  its called a "We all go"   !!!!!
Dec 11, 2013 5:49PM
I wonder what my 1968 Charger 440 R/T 4 speed would bring? At 6 miles per/gallon I wouldn't be driving it today but I've never seen one like it in metallic bronze.
Dec 11, 2013 7:56PM
Do any of those have a Flux Capacitor? 
Dec 12, 2013 9:00AM
These white collar car auctions are killing the hobby for car enthusiasts. Unlike years ago (not that many) when a dad could go pick up an old muscle car with his son/daughter and restore it without the need to take out a second mortgage.. The funny thing is, look at the classified ads or e-bay... anyone who has a beat up sh!tbox from 1973 and older thinks that it commands the price gouging #'s that the douche bags at Barrett/Jackson are getting.. Which now  completely price the regular Joe out of the classic car scene..  Barrett/Jackson is all about the love of money and nothing about the love of the automobile..
Dec 11, 2013 6:31PM
Like others here I have owned and driven cars that became collector cars 10 days after I had sold them. If you had just one wish...would you wish doe a look a Hemmings Motor News 20 years in the future?
Dec 11, 2013 7:48PM

Dec 11, 2013 7:17PM
Think I'll wait for the Buy-One-Get-One sale.
Why no mention of the uber-expensive classic Duesenbergs? You might talk to Jay Leno, who has one of the largest private collections of vintage Duesenbergs. Even a rusty junk Duesenberg missing half it's parts will bring hundreds of thousands of dollars, and beautifully immaculate ones have brought prices in the tens of millions.  Check out these old AMERICAN classics!
Dec 12, 2013 2:58AM
Mmmmm maybe I should have kept that Gremlin? Naaaaaaaaaaa!
Dec 11, 2013 7:26PM
My '54 Ford F100 isn't a multi million dollar piece but its a blast to cruise in. I would hate to have a car that could be demolished by just driving it.
Dec 11, 2013 7:20PM
 When one of these collectable**** a $100,000,000 I will show my true identity an buy one
Dec 11, 2013 4:52PM
another 25 years and that'll happen to those cars. But they must be kept in emaculate condition!
Dec 11, 2013 6:50PM
Ok, here's a good one ! In 1969-1970 Ford only Built 500 Mustang's  Each year Boss 429's Why has the price been so low and i expect the prices go through the Roof Soon . Chrysler & or Dodge built 1,000 + of Hemi's and put them in all kinds of Car's .
Dec 12, 2013 9:28AM
I can relate to those, who in the youth traded in or sold cars that are now worth a small fortune. In my case, a 1963 289 AC cobra(original aluminum body), 1968 corvette L89 427 roadster, 1964 1/ 2 mustang 289 hipo convertible, 1969 R code 428 super cobrajet mach 1 mustang, and the only one I have left, a 1966 Jaguar XKE coupe which just sits in my guarge awaiting restoration. A classic case of a college student without any sense.  YUK.
Dec 12, 2013 10:04PM
I attended Whittier High School in the early seventies...

I recall the Z28's, 65 Mustang Hipo with 4 speed, El Camino SS396 4speed, convertible 67 camaro SS and RS. Chevy Malibu SS, GTO's etc, etc.... parked on the street and in the school parking lot

 WOW all those cars are worth huge money now....

Dec 12, 2013 10:59AM
avatar is just a game of...I have it and you don't...well...I am ok with that...
Dec 12, 2013 10:39AM
All of these things are for people who have more money than brains
Dec 11, 2013 11:00PM
The problem is as years pass these cars fall out of favor and then you have a car nobody wants.  
Dec 12, 2013 12:02PM
Wow-another good use of tax cuts for the rich!
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