Just one week after rumors swept the auto world about a record-breaking auto auction, Mercedes-Benz confirmed it was all true. The most expensive car in the world is officially the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, of which there are only two. And the price is absolutely astonishing: 135 million euros, which is equivalent to $143.1 million at today’s exchange rates.
This is a record price tag that literally doubled sales of the $70 million Ferrari 250 GTO in 2018. RM Sotheby’s facilitated the auction, which took place on May 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Museum. As you can imagine, this is an invite-only private event that Mercedes says includes “international car and art customers and collectors, who share the values of the Mercedes-Benz company.” The identity of the high bidder remains anonymous, but as part of the deal, the new owner of the SLR will make it available for display at special events.
With an additional $143 million in its pocket, Mercedes made good use of its sales. The company will launch the Mercedes-Benz Fund, a global scholarship program that will support students in schools and universities who are involved in environmental studies.
“With Mercedes-Benz Fund we want to encourage a new generation to follow in the innovative footsteps of Rudolf Uhlenhaut and develop amazing new technologies, especially those that support the critical goals of decarbonization and resource conservation,” said Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius. “At the same time, achieving the highest price ever paid. for a vehicle is extraordinary and humble: Mercedes-Benz is by far the most valuable car in the world.”
One of two prototypes made in 1955, the SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was essentially a legal race car that survived Mercedes’ exit from the racetrack. Its name comes from Rudolf Uhlenhaut, the designer and chief engineer of the SLR who later drove it as his personal company car. This particular Uhlenhaut Coupe is part of a collection of non-public cars maintained by the automaker. The second prototype remains in company hands and is on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.