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The Most Expensive Luxury Cars of the 1970s


In the 1970s, the auto world saw significant changes due to new rules, fuel issues, and green concerns, influencing car design and performance. This decade was an incubator for some of the most extraordinary and expensive cars, a blend of speed, style, and sophistication. Despite this, car lovers were still ready to shell out big bucks for the luxury, speed, and uniqueness of certain cars. This article takes you through some of the most expensive cars from the 1970s.

Most Expensive 70s Cars Sold at an Auction

1970 Porsche 917K – $14.3 million

The Porsche 917K is a legend in the realm of racing and one of the rarest cars in the world. Known for its dominant performance in endurance racing, including the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 917K was a symbol of Porsche’s dominance in motorsports.

This car isn’t just any racing car; it’s a legend. Not only is it celebrated as one of the finest race cars ever made, but it also starred in the iconic movie “Le Mans,” driven by none other than Steve McQueen. Its striking Gulf Oil colors, authentic condition, and famous past owners make it a standout.

As a powerhouse in the ’70s racing scene, the Porsche 917K boasts a 4.5-liter flat-12 engine that churns out 600 horsepower. This speedster could hit a top speed of 240 mph and zoom from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 2.3 seconds. Today, it’s one of the most coveted vintage cars. The model driven by Steve McQueen in his legendary film fetched a whopping $14.3 million at a Gooding & Company auction in August 2017.

This car evolved from its original 1969 version, which had aerodynamic issues at high speeds. After some ingenious modifications, including a new short tail inspired by the Can-Am 917PA Spyder, the 917K emerged as a more stable and successful version. It debuted at the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona, becoming the go-to model for most races.

This car turned out to be a champion, clinching seven wins in the ten races it entered. The 917 K’s engine was later upgraded to 4.9 liters and then to 5 liters, enhancing its performance further.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Porsche 917K was a dominant force in racing, securing Porsche’s first overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970 and 1971.
  • The “K” in 917K stands for “Kurzheck,” which is German for “short-tail.” This design was developed to improve the car’s aerodynamic stability.
  • A 917K, painted in the iconic Gulf Oil livery, was famously featured in Steve McQueen’s film “Le Mans,” contributing to both the car and the film’s cult status among motorsport enthusiasts.

1972 Ferrari 312 PB – $13 million

The Ferrari 312 PB, designed for the World Sportscar Championship, was a marvel of engineering. Ferrari, already renowned for its success in Formula One, poured its expertise into this prototype racer. Its design was a departure from the norm, with a focus on aerodynamics and lightweight construction.

The car’s body was sleek and low, crafted to slice through the air with minimal resistance. Using advanced materials such as aluminum and fiberglass in its construction helped reduce weight, making the 312 PB exceptionally agile and responsive.

At the heart of the 312 PB was its powerful and sophisticated engine. The car was equipped with a flat-12 engine, a configuration chosen for its compact size and low center of gravity. This 3.0-liter engine was capable of producing an impressive 440 horsepower, a remarkable figure for its time.

The engine’s design was heavily influenced by Ferrari’s Formula One technology. It featured dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and a fuel injection system, which together contributed to its high performance and reliability.

Ferrari’s decision to focus solely on the World Sportscar Championship with the 312 PB in 1972 paid off, as the car outclassed its competition in nearly every aspect. Its most notable achievements included victories at prestigious races such as the 1000 km of Spa, the Targa Florio, and the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen. It was a sought-after car that sold a whopping $13 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2023.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Ferrari 312 PB was designed for sports car racing, dominating the World Sportscar Championship in 1972 by winning all races in which it competed.
  • It was one of the last sports prototypes before Ferrari shifted focus to Formula One, making it an important part of Ferrari’s racing heritage.
  • The “PB” in its name stands for “Prototipo Barchetta,” referring to its prototype racer status and barchetta-style body, which means “little boat” in Italian.

1971 Lamborghini Miura SV – $3.5 million

1971 Lamborghini Miura SV

The Miura SV, an evolution of the already spectacular Miura, took luxury and performance to new heights. Known for its mid-engine layout and breathtaking design, the Miura SV was the epitome of Italian craftsmanship and style.

Often considered as the crown jewel of the ’70s, the 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV is still celebrated as one of the most stunning cars ever. It’s powered by a 4.0-liter V12 engine, delivering 385 horsepower, and can hit a top speed of 186 mph, racing from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds. The Lamborghini Miura SV remains a highly coveted vintage car, with its value ranging from $1.5 million to $3.5 million.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Miura SV, where SV stands for “Super Veloce” (meaning “superfast” in Italian), was the final and most developed version of the Miura series.
  • It was one of the earliest supercars with a rear mid-engine, two-seat layout, which became the standard for high-performance sports and supercars.
  • The Miura SV was both faster and more stable than its predecessors, featuring numerous mechanical improvements, and is now highly valued among collectors for its beauty and performance.

1970 Plymouth HEMI’ Cuda Convertible – $2.25 Million

The 1970 model, a close sibling to the 1971 version, also featured the mighty HEMI engine. This car combined muscle power with a more refined, luxurious interior, marking a unique blend of brute force and elegance. It stood as a symbol of American ingenuity and performance-driven design.

During the time when convertibles weren’t the rage in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the 1970 and 1971 ‘Cuda convertibles stood out as rare finds. A particularly special one, one of just 14 made in 1970 and equipped with a Hemi A727 Torqueflite three-speed automatic transmission and a dual-quad 426-HP Hemi V8 engine, fetched $2.25 million at a Mecum Auction in 2015.

This car was more than just a vehicle; it was styled by John Herlitz at the young age of 27 and had a history of notable owners, including Brett Torino and Darrell Davis, the Chairman of Chrysler Finance. Lovingly restored by Cumins Restorations in 2002, this muscle car is a true piece of Mopar history.

Interesting Facts:

  • The 1970 Plymouth HEMI Cuda Convertible is exceedingly rare, with only 14 units made.
  • It features the legendary 426 HEMI engine, renowned for its massive 425 horsepower.
  • The HEMI’ Cuda Convertible has become an iconic symbol in American pop culture, frequently featured in movies, TV shows, and songs.

1971 HEMI ‘Cuda Convertible – $3.5 million

The HEMI Cuda Convertible of 1971 was a marvel of American automotive engineering. Known for its raw power and aggressive styling, this car was a beast on the road. The HEMI engine, with its unmatched performance, made this car a favorite among muscle car enthusiasts and collectors alike.

At a Mecum Auction in 2014, the 1971 HEMI ‘Cuda Convertible sold for a record $3.5 million, making it the priciest Chrysler ever sold. Looking quite similar to another ’71 ‘Cuda that went for $2.2 million, this one stands out as the only one left with its original matching number of parts.

It boasts the original Hemi-426 V8 engine, the sole Hemi’ Cuda with a 4-speed manual transmission, and the original Hurst shifter. With just 11 of its kind ever made, and 1971 being the year with the least number of Hemi convertibles produced, it’s truly unique. This ‘Cuda, also known as the “Holy Grail of Muscle Cars,” features a 440ci Hemi, a six-barrel carburetor, and an upgraded suspension.

Its story is as fascinating as its specs. The first known owner was Russ Meyer, a well-known cartoonist. He sold it for $250,000 to someone in Oregon, but it was later seized in a drug raid and auctioned for $405,000. It was restored to its original splendor by Julius Steuer, including its B5 Bright Blue color, black top, and matching blue seats.

Interesting Facts:

  • The 1971 HEMI ‘Cuda Convertible is one of the rarest muscle cars, with only 11 ever produced.
  • It became famous for its powerful 426 Hemi V8 engine and is highly sought after for its original matching-number parts.
  • In 2014, one of these convertibles was sold for $3.5 million, making it the most expensive Chrysler vehicle ever sold at auction.

Most Expensive Production Cars of the 1970s

1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona – $2.5 million

The 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, also known as the Daytona, succeeded the renowned 275 GTB/4 and was the speed king of its era. This striking car, with a 4.4-liter V12 engine, pumped out 352 horsepower, allowing it to hit a top speed of 174 mph and sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a swift 5.4 seconds. Nowadays, the Daytona is a hot item among vintage car collectors, with its value ranging from $500,000 to a cool $2.5 million. 

Ferrari produced this grand tourer between 1968 and 1973, and with only 1,284 units made, it’s a rare find. Back in 1971, it carried a hefty price tag of around $20,000, roughly equivalent to $130,000 today.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Ferrari 365 GTB/4, nicknamed “Daytona,” was introduced to the world as the fastest production car of its time.
  • Only 1,284 units were ever made, adding to its exclusivity and high value among collectors.
  • The Daytona’s classic design and powerful 4.4-liter V12 engine helped cement its status as an iconic vintage sports car.

1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda – $$500,000

The 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda, often referred to as the “Pagoda” due to its distinctive concave hardtop, was a blend of German engineering and refined aesthetics. Known for its reliability and elegant design, the 280SL Pagoda was a favorite among those who sought a luxurious yet understated driving experience.

This car was the epitome of luxury sports cars in the 70s. Powered by a 2.8-liter inline-six engine that delivered 170 horsepower, the Pagoda could reach a top speed of 124 mph and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 9 seconds. Today, this classic Mercedes-Benz model is highly coveted, with prices ranging between $100,000 and $500,000, making it a prized possession for vintage car enthusiasts.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda was named for its distinctive concave hardtop, which resembles traditional Asian pagoda structures.
  • It was known for its perfect blend of performance and luxury, with a 2.8-liter engine and elegant styling.
  • The 280SL Pagoda was a popular choice among celebrities and socialites in the 1970s for its stylish appearance and comfortable ride.

1973 BMW 3.0 CSL – $500,000

The 3.0 CSL was a masterpiece of German automotive engineering designed to dominate touring car racing. With its lightweight construction and powerful engine, it was not just a car but a statement of BMW’s commitment to performance and innovation. It came equipped with a 3.2-liter inline-six engine, pushing out 206 horsepower. This speedster could reach 134 mph and jump from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds.

Nowadays, it’s a big hit among vintage car enthusiasts, with its price ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. Its success on the track cemented its status as a legend of the 70s.

Interesting Facts:

  • The BMW 3.0 CSL was affectionately known as the “Batmobile” due to its aerodynamic racing body kit and distinctive wing.
  • It was a successful race car, dominating European touring car racing and winning numerous championships.
  • The “L” in CSL stands for “Leichtbau,” German for lightweight, as the car was made lighter for racing with aluminum doors, bonnet, and boot lid.

1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400 – $260,000

The introduction of the Countach LP400 in the mid-70s marked a seismic shift in sports car design. Produced from 1974 to 1982, it was the first to flaunt the iconic wedge shape that became Lamborghini’s signature. With its futuristic, angular lines and scissor doors, it looked like nothing else on the road. This groundbreaking mid-engine sports car wasn’t just a vehicle; it was a vision of the future, embodying the bold and radical spirit of the 70s.

With a 3.9-liter V12 engine, it offered a robust 375 horsepower and could hit speeds up to 179 mph. Back in the ’70s, it was a premium buy at around $52,000, equal to about $260,000 today. With only 157 units made, it’s a rare and desirable collector’s item.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Lamborghini Countach LP400 revolutionized sports car design with its sharp, angular look and scissor doors, a first for production cars.
  • It had an impressive performance with a 3.9-liter V12 engine, making it one of the fastest cars in its era.
  • Only 157 units of the LP400 were produced, making it one of the rarest and most desirable Lamborghini models ever made.

1975 Rolls-Royce Corniche – $325,000

In stark contrast to the flamboyant Countach, the Rolls-Royce Corniche represented the pinnacle of luxury and refinement. With its sumptuous interiors, meticulous craftsmanship, and an air of aristocratic grace, the Corniche was the choice of the elite, offering an unparalleled luxury experience.

Based on the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, the Rolls-Royce Corniche offered a smooth and luxurious ride. It was powered by a 6.75-liter V8 engine, delivering 240 horsepower and reaching a top speed of 118 mph. In the ’70s, it was one of the priciest cars, going for about $65,000 in 1975, which is around $325,000 in today’s money. With just 4,332 units made, owning a Corniche means owning a slice of prestigious and exclusive automotive history.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Rolls-Royce Corniche was named after the coastal roads of the French Riviera, known as “corniches.”
  • It was one of the most luxurious convertibles of its time, offering unrivaled comfort and elegance.
  • The Corniche was hand-built and took about four months to complete, with each car undergoing extensive road testing before delivery.


The luxury cars of the 1970s were a testament to the era’s technological, aesthetic, and performance values. They represented a period when car manufacturers boldly explored new frontiers in design and power. Today, these cars are not just coveted collectibles but also icons of a revolutionary era in automotive history. Owning one of these cars means preserving a piece of the 70s, a time when cars were more than utilitarian and became embodiments of dreams and aspirations.

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