The Most Expensive Luxury Cars of the 1990s

The ’90s was a time when people weren’t concerned about transportation anymore – their appetite for luxury and performance had been growing. So naturally, many “status symbol” cars are made in this era. For those fortunate enough to have millions at their disposal, they are willing to buy some of these luxury cars at auctions for a hefty amount of cash.

In this article, let’s explore some of the most expensive cars in the 90s sold at auctions:

1995 McLaren F1- $20.47 million

Chassis 029 isn’t just any McLaren F1; it’s the 25th one ever made, completed back in 1994. But it’s not just its place in the production line that makes it unique. It boasts a one-of-a-kind Creighton Brown paint job, a tribute to McLaren’s Commercial Director during the F1 road car program’s early days. This distinct color is matched inside with a brown driver’s seat, tan leather inserts, and a dashboard covered in light brown Alcantara suede.

Creighton Brown, the man behind the color, had an interesting journey himself. From a motor racing career in the 1970s to managing the ICI-backed Chevron Formula 2 team and later joining forces with Ron Dennis at Project Four. By 1981, they took over McLaren and led the team to numerous World Championship titles. Brown wasn’t just about cars; he was also a successful pig farmer known for his globally marketed Camborough Pigs.

This car was initially delivered to Japan, and its first owner barely touched it, keeping the mileage super low. In 2001, it popped up for sale but didn’t find a buyer and stayed with its original owner. Fast forward to 2013, and it finally left Japan, sold to a US collector by Euro-Classics for an eye-popping $20,465,000!

By the time it hit the auction block in 2021 at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach event, it had just 240 miles on the odometer. And it wasn’t just the car itself that was special. It came with a bunch of original accessories like a FACOM tool chest, a titanium tool kit, custom luggage, a special TAG Heuer watch, and the ‘Driving Ambition’ book that accompanied each new F1.

1994 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’ – $19.8 million

The McLaren F1 is arguably the most iconic supercar of the 1990s, and a special ‘LM-Specification’ version was sold for a staggering $19.8 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2019, making it the most expensive McLaren F1 sold to date. This car was one of only two F1s upgraded by McLaren to (Le Mans) LM specifications, making it extremely rare and desirable.

Originally finished in a striking Midnight Blue Pearl with black trim, it was delivered to its first owner in Japan in 1994. In 1999, the car found a new home with a German collector who decided to take it to the next level. He commissioned McLaren Special Operations (MSO) to upgrade it to Le Mans (LM) specification, which included an array of enhancements: Extra High-Downforce bodywork, a more powerful GTR-spec 6.1-liter V12 engine, additional radiators, a transmission cooler, revised suspension, and 18-inch GTR wheels.

They also fitted a new exhaust system and upgraded the headlights. The transformation was completed with a fresh coat of Platinum Silver Metallic paint and a retrimming of the interior in beige leather. The car continued to travel globally, moving to Singapore in 2004 and then to New Zealand in 2007. Despite its travels, it was meticulously serviced by MSO and had only covered 13,352 miles when it was put up for auction.

1995 McLaren F1 – $15.62 million

In 2017, Chassis no. 044 of the McLaren F1 was auctioned for a significant $15,620,000 at Bonhams in Monterey. It was a standout among hypercars due to its revolutionary design and status as a collector’s item.

This particular model is one of only seven McLaren F1s that were made legal for use in the United States, and it was the first to be imported. As the 37th of the 64 road cars produced, it has a unique place in McLaren’s history.

The winning bid was reportedly placed by Sir Lewis Hamilton, who is notable for his connection to the ’44’ race number. The car’s prestigious history includes its first owner, American business magnate Herb Chambers, who had visited McLaren’s assembly line in Woking in 1996 to acquire it. The F1’s reign as the fastest car in the world, a title it held until 2005, made it an ideal addition to the collection of a then seven-time F1 World Champion.

1998 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’ – $13.75 million

Yet another McLaren F1, this one a 1998 model in ‘LM-Specification’, fetched $13.75 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2015. The F1’s high performance and rarity continue to make it a star at auctions.

Not originally an F1 LM, this model became one of the most sought-after F1s after McLaren Special Operations (MSO) upgraded it to LM specifications. They enhanced the engine with parts from the F1 GTR race car, improved the wheels, suspension, and interior, and added high-downforce bodywork.

A special signature from designer Gordon Murray on the transmission tunnel added a personal touch. This near-last of the 64 road-going F1s had only 13,048 miles on it at the time of sale in 2015.

1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR – $4.5 million

A rare 1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, a road-legal version of Mercedes’ GT1 race car, was sold for about $4.5 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2018. Only 25 road-going CLK GTRs were made, adding to its exclusivity.

The Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR was originally developed for the FIA GT Championship series, with a limited number of road-going versions produced to meet homologation requirements. It features a mid-mounted 6.9-liter V12 engine producing around 604 horsepower, enabling it to reach 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, with a top speed of over 200 mph. Its design was heavily influenced by its racing counterpart, featuring a carbon-fiber monocoque and a very aggressive aerodynamic package.

1990 Ferrari F40 LM – $5.89 million

The Ferrari F40 is one of the most revered Ferraris, and a special ‘LM’ (Le Mans) version of it was auctioned for $5.89 million at RM Sotheby’s in 2019. The F40 LM, modified for racing, is rarer and more powerful than the standard F40.

The F40 LM features numerous upgrades over the standard F40, including a more powerful engine, upgraded suspension, brakes, and a more aggressive aerodynamics package. The 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine in the LM produces around 720 horsepower, significantly more than the standard F40’s 471 horsepower.

With its racing modifications and limited production, the F40 LM has a significant pedigree that appeals to collectors.

1996 Ferrari F50 GT – $3.08 million

The Ferrari F50 GT was developed as a racing version of the Ferrari F50, intended to compete in GT1-class racing. However, the racing program was canceled, and only three F50 GTs were ever built. Because of its rarity, one 1996 Ferrari F50 GT was sold for $3.08 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2016.

The F50 GT was a more extreme, track-focused version of the already impressive F50. It features extensive modifications from the standard F50, including a fixed roof, a large rear wing, increased engine power, and reduced weight. The 4.7-liter V12 engine in the GT produces over 750 horsepower, a significant increase from the road car’s 520 horsepower.

1997 Porsche 911 GT1 Evolution – $3.14 million

The Porsche 911 is iconic in itself, but the GT1 Evolution was on another level. It’s a race car with a pedigree in international GT racing and was sold for $3.14 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2016. Its racing history and rarity contribute to its high value.

This race car is built for international GT racing, including the Le Mans 24 Hours. It is based on the 911 GT1, which itself was a racing variant of the iconic Porsche 911.

Featuring a twin-turbocharged flat-six engine and producing around 600 horsepower, this car is legendary. It’s known for its distinctive design, which includes a long, flat nose and a large rear wing for increased downforce.

The GT1 Evolution’s racing heritage, combined with the legendary status of the 911 series, makes it highly sought after.

1992 Ferrari F40 LM – $5.89 million

This particular F40 LM, a racing variant of the already legendary F40, was known for its enhanced performance and track-focused modifications. This particular version was auctioned for $5.89 million at RM Sotheby’s in 2019. The F40 LM, modified for racing, is rarer and more powerful than the standard F40. 

The upgrades it received include having a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V8 engine to produce upwards of 720 horsepower, compared to the 471 horsepower of the standard F40. It also featured advanced aerodynamics, including a larger rear wing, a more aggressive front splitter, and additional cooling ducts.

The F40 LM was built for competition, and it saw action in various racing series, including IMSA and BPR Global GT Series. Its racing modifications made it faster, more agile, and more robust than its road-going counterpart.

1998 Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion – $5.66 million

Originally developed for homologation purposes to allow Porsche to compete in the GT1 category at Le Mans, the Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion (Street version) is essentially a race car adapted for road use.

It features a 3.2-liter twin-turbo flat-six engine located mid-ship for better balance, a significant departure from the traditional rear-engine setup of the 911. The engine produces around 550 horsepower, enabling it to reach 0-60 mph in about 3.7 seconds and a top speed of approximately 191 mph.

The Strassenversion maintained many of the aerodynamic features of the race car, including the large rear wing and ground-hugging front spoiler. However, it was equipped with amenities for road use, like a more comfortable interior and additional safety features. Because it was such a special race car, one was sold for approximately $5.66 million at Gooding & Company in 2017.

1996 Lamborghini Diablo SE30 Jota – $1.2 million

This car featured a tuned version of the Diablo’s 5.7-liter V12 engine, producing around 595 horsepower, a significant increase from the standard Diablo’s 492 horsepower. This resulted in a blistering acceleration and a top speed of over 200 mph.

It had numerous aerodynamic enhancements, including a more aggressive front air dam, a large rear wing, and improved engine cooling vents. The interior was stripped down for weight reduction, emphasizing its track-oriented nature.

Only a handful of SE30s received this package, making it a highly sought-after model among collectors. One was sold for approximately $1.2 million at RM Sotheby’s in 2019.

Conclusion

The 1990s were truly a golden era in the world of supercars. These machines were the ultimate symbols of luxury, performance, and technological achievement of the time. Their hefty price tags were proof of their exclusivity and engineering prowess. Today, they are legends, remembered and revered by car enthusiasts around the world.

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