The Most Expensive Car Ever Sold

Auction house Sotheby’s recently made history when bidding ended on a gull-wing car from 1955. The hammer fell at $143 million on a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé, which now holds the record for being the most expensive car ever sold. The sale was in the financial stratosphere normally reserved for fine art. The sticker shock stems from the fact that the car — named after its designer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut — is one of just two ever made. Both are prototypes and had remained in the possession of Mercedes-Benz since their creation. Because the company is not likely to put the other one up for sale, this represented a rare opportunity, and bidding reflected it. What makes the 300 SLR so special? Widely believed to be an engineering marvel ahead of its time, it was modeled after the W196 R racing coupé, which earned the company two Formula 1 championships in 1954 and 1955. The vehicle can clock speeds of up to 186 mph. Unfortunately, the Uhlenhaut never made it to the track. Following a devastating 1955 crash at Le Mans, which killed driver Pierre Levegh and 83 spectators due to flying debris, the company withdrew from racing competition until 1987. The winning bidder is a private collector who was not identified. Proceeds of the sale will be used to start a fund for scholarships and education for environmental research.