Mercedes-Benz confirmed on Thursday that it recently sold the world’s most expensive car. A very rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR coupe that had been kept in the German automaker’s collection was sold to a private owner for €135 million, the equivalent of $142 million. That price makes it the most expensive car known to ever have been sold, according to Hagerty, a company that tracks collector car values.
Money from the sale will be used to establish the Mercedes-Benz Fund, a global scholarship fund, Mercedes said in an announcement.
The previous record sale price for a car was reportedly $70 million paid in 2018 for a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO.
The Mercedes that was sold was one of only two 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe prototypes. The 67-year-old cars were named for Mercedes’ chief engineer at the time, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, and are claimed to have a top speed of 186 mph It was sold at a closed invitation-only auction at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart on May 5. The auction was held in cooperation with auto auction company RM Sotheby’s.
The other Uhlenhaut Coupe will remain in the Museum’s collection, according to a Mercedes-Benz statement.
“Their racing cars from the 1930s and 1950s are rare, and most are still owned by the factory, so any that come to market are highly sought after,” said Brian Rabold, vice president for automotive intelligence at Hagerty.
Mercedes’ “Gullwing” SLRs – so-called because of the doors that rise up like curved wings – are considered to be among the world’s most desirable cars. And various rare and racing versions are especially valuable.
The SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was, essentially, a hard-top version of Mercedes’ famous open-topped SLR racing car, powered by a 300 horsepower eight-cylinder engine. The thinking was that a closed car would better protect drivers from wind and weather at high speeds, while the closed roof would also improve aerodynamics.
Shortly after the development of these cars, Mercedes stopped its involvement in motorsports, so the cars were never used in competition.
While the identity of the car’s new owners remains unknown, British classic car dealer Simon Kidston claimed in a press release to have placed the winning bid on behalf of a customer.