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By Chris | February 3 2013
Since the automobile was first invented, there has always been a blossoming fascination with the most elite methods of land travel.
Whether as a yardstick for future endeavors or simply for a piece of mechanical eye-candy, many look upon the “most expensive car in the world” tag as one to be cherished.
Justifying a price tag of over a million dollars is sometimes difficult to comprehend. Yes, of course many of these supercars use finer materials than other high-performance vehicles but there must be other elements that contribute to seven figure charges.
Many manufacturers will only produce a handful of each super model per year or even at all and exclusivity is, understandably, an attractive quality to the extremely rich. Nevertheless, whether manufacturers intend to produce two or 200 units, the aura around these top end machines remains.
There are some older vehicles whose iconic stature and scarcity combines to fetch frightening prices at auction houses all over the world. Performance is a desirable asset but at this top end, so many of the most expensive cars available have very similar speed statistics. Some evoke memories from films and TV shows, others come from defunct supercar stables and there are many with a strong racing heritage.
In August 2011 a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa- an iconic multiple winner of 24 Hours of Le Mans in the late 1950s and early 60s- was sold for $16,390,000 — over four times the value of the most expensive consumer car on this list.
There is no doubt that in decades to come some of the highest fliers on this particular countdown will be as keenly sought as the vintage models currently fetching major sums from collectors.
During six years of production the SSC Ultimate Aero held the honor of being the fastest road legal car in the world before being ultimately surpassed by this category’s winner.
Unusually for a modern supercar the Aero was produced without standardized driving aids such as traction control and ABS. The theory behind the unorthodox configuration is to allow the user to “drive and brake with his right foot.”
Repeating the butterfly door style first pioneered by the McClaren F1, the SSC, designed by Jerod Shelby, tips its hat towards iconic visuals of the past whilst attempting to forge its own approach to drive and performance.
Between 2007 and 2010 the quirky Aero’s array of statistics ensured the vehicle was known as the world’s fastest production car. An average speed of 256.18mph piped the original Bugatti Veyron by under three mph.
Introduced in 2005 as a continuation of the line of Zonda cars first released in 1999, the Zonda C12 F remains one of the most expensive and fastest machines available.
One of two Zondas on this list, the C12 F provides a unique shape to maximize speed and aerodynamic efficiency. With a 7.3 liter engine capacity and a weight of 2,711lb, Pagani’s desire to produce a supercar powerhouse shines through.
The Zonda’s Mercedes Benz engine is comfortable in exceeding 200mph when at full throttle and despite a 0-60 speed nearer to four than three seconds, the Zonda remains a lusted after supercar.
Crafted out of carbon fiber, do not expect much change from $700,000.
The iconic Italian manufacturer began producing the Enzo in 2002 and a decade later, the distinctive supercar remains a firm favorite.
The Italian designer’s first car of the new millennium is also the most widely manufactured supercar on this list with 400 vehicles produced between 2002 and 2004.
Despite costing nearly $2 million less than the vehicle at the top of this list the Enzo remains the most expensive Ferrari available.
Introduced by designer Ken Okuyama and ranked fourth in Motor Trend Classics’ Ten Greatest Ferraris, the $670,000 Enzo uses much of the Formula One technology that made Ferrari a dominant force in the sport at the turn of the century.
The car hit the headlines in 2012 when one debt-ridden British owner abandoned his Enzo in a car park in Dubai. The vehicle, left stranded for nearly two years as parking tickets racked up, became the most expensive car ever sold at a police auction.
The only Porsche to make an appearance on this list, the 918 Spyder was initially a concept car before the German manufacturer buckled under the pressure of 2,000 indications of interest and announced that the 918 would be released on September 18th 2013 (9/18).
Unusually for a car in this category, there are expected to be 918 copies of the car produced in its lifetime, however the power and performance expected from a car of this magnitude has not been diluted.
By no means the fastest car in this list, it is the capacity to move between 0-60 in under 3 seconds that sets it apart from many of its rivals.
At the time of writing the Spyder remains in development, however in tests carried out a year before release the 918 managed to complete the 13.7 mile Nordschleife circuit at Nürburgring, Germany in 7m 14 seconds- a full 17 seconds faster than the Porsche Carrera GT V10 ever managed.
Despite being by far the oldest of the cars on this list, the original McClaren F1, still scores highly in performance tests even against the best of today’s vintage. The eye-watering 3.2 second 0-60 speed stands up to any more recent releases.
In fact- in 2010 — nearly 20 years after the car was first conceived — only four vehicles in the high performance supercar category surpassed the power and speed figures recorded by the McLaren F1.
First spawned in 1992, 106 McClaren F1s were created before production was halted six years later.
With iconic butterfly doors reminiscent of Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s expeditions across time and space, the McLaren F1 pays homage to earlier supercars whilst maintaining highly fashionable lines and desirable performance.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. In September 2012 McClaren finally released details of a successor to the original F1 vehicle. The codenamed P12 may still be at the prototype stage, however it is understood that once released it will have an asking price of just short of $1 million.
Based on the Lotus Elise and best known for being the vehicle of choice for Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, the Hennessey-built Venom is understood to have been recreated only four times in two years of production despite 20 cars being forecast in that time.
The Venom GT boasts three power settings (up to 1,200 horsepower) for its twin-turbo, 427-cubic-inch V-8 engine and can reach speeds of up to 272mph.
Rock legend Tyler was so enamored with the prospect of an open top incarnation of the Venom that he contacted the head of Hennessey Performance Engineering, John Hennessey, to request a custom-built version.
The resulting vehicle, the Hennessey Spyder, makes for a rather noisy ride — the twin v-8 engine and topless aesthetic combines to ensure that the user can hear every rev from the luxury vehicle. After 40 years of heavy music, however, perhaps noise exposure is no longer the biggest of concerns for the Aerosmith front man.
The second Scandinavian entrant on this list, the all-Danish designed and manufactured Zenvo ST1 was announced in 2009.
One of the more recent releases on this list, the Zenvo ST1 has a series of only 15 cars and is targeted at consumers outside of the vehicle’s homeland.
The concept behind the Zenvo ST1 is to produce a car flexible enough to be driven every day on roads and motorways but also to be converted into a major force on the race track with minimal effort.
In that respect the ST1 is a success, although the idea of using a $1,225,000 supercar as an everyday utility vehicle may take some getting used to.
The Maybach Landaulet is one vehicle on this list not intended to be driven by the owner.
Designed as a luxury chauffeur driven vehicle, Maybach’s interpretation of the Landaulet includes a completely secluded driver compartment and a specifically designed set of windows to allow the passenger panoramic views of the car’s surroundings.
The separate areas within the car are defined by their attitudes to function and luxury. Passengers are able to recall a pre-saved seat position at the click of a button and enjoy a machine operated massage utility.
The Maybach’s performance is understandably less of a concern for consumers than on other cars in this range with luxury taking precedence, however the $1.38 million vehicle is still capable of moving between 0-60 in 5.2 seconds.
Daimler had confirmed that the Maybach brand would be shut down by the end of 2013, however that has not stopped famous faces such as Madonna and Jay-Z from showing their affection for this unorthodox Landaulet.
The only Swedish manufacturer on the list, Koenigsegg is the driving force behind the Agera “hypercar.”
Packing a 2.9 second 0-60 speed and a top speed of over 250mph, this Scandinavian beauty is no slouch.
To improve the Agera’s performance, developers insisted on a dynamic rear wing. This bucks the trend followed by many supercar manufacturers , several of whom deploy a hydraulic system to lift rear wings at high speed.
The Aegra surpassed the Bugatti Veyron’s 0-186mph speed in tests carried out in Ängelholm, Sweden in 2011- the 14.53 seconds recorded edging out the 14.60 managed by the original Veyron.
Regardless, the $1,600,000 2011 model was scheduled for some significant changes as the the 2013 edition was released. Sporting a new suspension system, rear exhaust section and increased horsepower capabilities the new Agera is destined to be one impressive supercar.
Named after the bull which ended the career of legendary fighter Felix Guzman, the Reventon certainly catches the eye.
Only 21 units were ever manufactured when the vehicle was in production in 2008. The designers attempted to make the Reventon specification as close to that of an aircraft as possible and the result is one of the more distinctive looking machines on this countdown.
Constructed with longevity in mind, the Reventon is shaped in such a way as to maximise aerodynamic performance and engine temperature.
Complete with an outer shell that Batman would be proud of, the Reventon also possesses a unique lighting system- the newest light-emitting diodes and Bi-Xenon headlights are complimented by seven LED lights and 10 diodes serve as hazard lights and indicators.
The final Reventon was deployed to a dealership in Birmingham at the end of 2008- making it the only example of the car in the UK.
Acclaimed as the best Zondas ever produced on account of its automated gearbox, the 2009 Zonda Cinque Roadster weighs in heavily at number five on this countdown.
Five-time Formula One world champion Juan Manuel Fangio is credited with having an impact on the design of the Zonda and was set to be honoured with the naming rights for the vehicle, however his death in 1995 prompted a rethink.
Designer Horacio Pagani has suggested that the Cinque Roadster will be the final incarnation of the 1999 released supercar however the Zonda has been so popular with consumers- the Cinque Roadster was only set in motion after Pagani was asked by customers to design a new vehicle- that nothing can be ruled out.
The 3.3 second 0-60 powerhouse stacks up well against its elite opposition and the Cinque is one of the most exclusive vehicles in this company with only five of the carbo-titanium shelled beasts to be made available.
The car’s replacement, a Pagani Huayra, made its debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
Perhaps not the most expensive car on this list (it’s a tie for second) but certainly one of the most exclusive. Only 77 Aston Martin One-77s have been manufactured and as of late 2011 all but 13 had been accounted for.
Complete with a 7.3 liter V12 engine, 750 bhp and an equally impressive 3.5 second 0-60 time, the One-77 has also been a popular inclusion as part of a variety of video games — featuring in the Forza Motorsport series and on Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.
Not to be confused with the $40,000 bicycle carrying the same name, the One-77 is so exclusive that Aston Martin decided that the vehicle was not to be made available for review.
British car magazine program Top Gear had to rely on supercar dealer Abdulla Al Ketbi to specifically purchase a version of the vehicle so that a test drive could be carried out.
Comfortably the most expensive Ferrari ever made available to consumers, the 599XX was announced in 2011 to much fanfare.
Utilizing the Drag Reduction System (DRS)- the oft mentioned Formula 1 technology- the 599XX is not available to drive on roads, however the user is given a choice of six track events at which Ferrari personnel will be on hand to assist their thirst for speed.
Boasting a 0-60 time in under 2.9 seconds, the 599XX’s gearbox limits the top speed to an almost comprehensible 196mph.
However it is the inclusion of a number of electronic driver aids that drives the 599XX’s price into the stratosphere and enables the user to maximize performance. The reduction in drag and downforce means that, regardless of how accomplished the driver, the electronic aids will always provide an edge in speed and lap times.
Perhaps not surprising given that the base version of the Bugatti Veyron costs a cool $1,700,000 but the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport is comfortably the world’s fastest, and second most expensive car.
Set into production in 2010, the Veyron Super Sports boasts a 267.856 mph top speed and an increase in engine power from the standard 1,001 to 1,200 PS. Combine this with an awe-inspiring 0-60 speed (2.5 seconds) and the astronomical price tag becomes a little bit more value for money.
Only 30 Veyron Super Sports have been set into production and for those keen on maintaining a sense of exclusivity, the list of Veyron Super Sports owners includes fashion lynchpin Ralph Lauren and rap artist Jay-Z.
The most exclusive car on this list is also the most expensive. Reportedly worth $8 million dollars to rap artist Bryan Williams aka “Birdman,” the Maybach Exelero is the only car on this list to be unique.
Despite weighing a not inconsiderable 2.6 tons, the Exelero is capable of moving between 0-60 in a frightening 4.4 seconds and its V12 twin turbo engine is fitted into a sizable 20ft frame.
The Exelero’s design was the product of a competition opened to students at the Pforzheim Polytechnic Department of Transport Design.
24-year-old Fredrik Burchhard produced the winning design and his concept was followed by the Maybach design center in Sindelfingen, Germany before the one off vehicle was flown into Birdman’s nest.