Mercedes-Benz has just sold the most expensive car in the world. The company confirmed Tuesday that it sold a very rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR coupe to a private buyer for €135 million, the equivalent of $142 million.
The car was part of the company's private collection. The price the mysterious buyer paid for the car made it the most expensive vehicle ever sold on auction. Mercedes said the money that was gained from the sale would be used towards its global scholarship charity called the Mercedes-Benz fund.
Hagerty, a U.S.-based company that provides specialty insurance for classic vehicles, said the sale had overtaken and more than doubled the previous record auction price for a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO. The classic Ferrari was sold in an auction in 2018 to an undisclosed buyer for $70 million.
While the name of the car's new owner was never disclosed, British classic car dealer Simon Kidston claimed to have put the winning bid on behalf of a customer.
The classic Mercedes that was sold was one of just two prototypes of the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe. The 67-year-old automobiles were named after Rudolf Uhlenhaut, Mercedes' chief engineer at the time, and are said to have a peak speed of 186 mph.
One of the vehicles was sold in a restricted invitation-only auction on May 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. The sale was organized in collaboration with RM Sotheby's. Mercedes-Benz said in a statement that it would keep the other Uhlenhaut Coupe will stay in the Museum's collection.
Brian Rabold, the vice president of Hagerty's automotive intelligence, said that Mercedes Benz racing cars from the 1930s and 1950s are extremely rare, and most are owned by the company. He added that these types of cars are highly sought after and command very high prices from collectors worldwide.
Mercedes' "Gullwing" SLRs, so named because their doors lift up like curved wings, are among the world's most desired automobiles, and there are some rare racing variants that are particularly desirable to collectors.
The SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, powered by a 300-horsepower eight-cylinder engine, was essentially a hard-top variant of Mercedes' legendary open-top SLR racing vehicle. The theory was that a closed automobile would provide better protection from wind and rain at high speeds while simultaneously improving aerodynamics. Mercedes discontinued competing in racing shortly after the creation of the classic SLRs, which meant that most models were never utilized in competition.