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11 Classic Cars You'll Never Get To Drive

Updated: May 19, 2023

Bugatti Type 51 Royale

Although we very much hope that you do...

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1 - Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic

1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic owned by Ralph Lauren - Credit: Martyn Goddard Images
1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic owned by Ralph Lauren - Credit: Martyn Goddard Images

Only four of these cars were created between 1936 and 1938. Two and half of these extraordinary coupes are still in existence. They are regarded as some of the most valuable cars in the world.

In 1936, Bugatti built the first model for British banker Victor Rothschild, originally without a supercharger, in grey-blue. This vehicle, with chassis number 57 374, is now known as the “Rothschild Atlantic”.

The “Holzschuh Atlantic”, with chassis number 57 473, was delivered to Jacques Holzschuh of France in October 1936. The second owner of the car, a collector, died in an accident on a level crossing. The Bugatti was completely destroyed. Decades afterwards, it was the subject of a complex restoration, although the engine could not be saved. Hence it widely being referred to as half a car.

Fashion designer Ralph Lauren is the owner of the last Atlantic produced, with chassis number 57 591, the “Pope Atlantic” was completed in May 1938 – its first owner was the Briton R.B. Pope.

The automotive world has been searching for the fourth Atlantic for over 80 years.

Likely to be one of the world's most expensive cars behind the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR in which Stirling Moss won the 1955 Mille Miglia.

2 - Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (0704) - Credit: Tom Hartley Jnr
Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (0704) - Credit: Tom Hartley Jnr

33 250 Testa Rossa’s were built in total between 1957 and 1962. 19 of those were “customer cars” sold to independent racing teams. These cars were all LHD pontoon fender bodies.

Customer cars did not benefit from the continual improvements to Scuderia Ferrari cars, although many independent teams modified their 250 TRs or purchased ex-Scuderia Ferrari cars in order to stay competitive.

In 2014, Tom Hartley sold what is believed to be the sole Testa Rossa to remain unrestored, The 1957 factory prototype still has its original engine, gearbox and bodywork. It raced at Le Mans in 1957 (running as high as second but ultimately withdrawing before the finish), and picked up wins at the 1,000km of Buenos Aires and 12 Hours of Sebring a year later – both with racing legends Phil Hill and Peter Collins behind the wheel.

The sale price was rumoured to be nearly $40m.

3 - Leyat Helica

Leyat Helica at 2020 Hampton Court Concours of Elegance - Credit: Tim Scott/Concours of Elegance
Leyat Helica at 2020 Hampton Court Concours of Elegance - Credit: Tim Scott/Concours of Elegance

When this car was launched in 1921, it was called ‘the plane without wings’. And well, you can see that, it’s got a propeller on it for crying out loud. The Helica is French through and through, designed by the French automobile manufacturer, Marcel Leyat, and made in France.

Only 30 of these were produced, all of which remain in private collections.

4 - Rolls-Royce 10 HP

 1904-1906 Rolls-Royce 10HP
1904-1906 Rolls-Royce 10HP - Credit: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars PressClub.

Rolls-Royce. Well before they were Rolls and Royce, Charles Rolls and Henry Royce more specifically. In late 1904 they signed an agreement to form what’s now know as Rolls-Royce.

The 10HP was their first model. It was produced by Royce on his Manchester production line. And it was sold by Royce, a motor car dealer in London under the badge Rolls-Royce.

It was badged the 10HP, because it, err, had 10HP...

Rolls-Royce intended to make 20, 16 ended up being built. 4 of which are believed to survive.

5 - 1970 Porsche 917K

Porsche 917K Auctioned At RM Sotheby's in 2021
Porsche 917K Auctioned At RM Sotheby's in 2021 - Credit: RM Sotheby's

Ah the 917. The car that put Porsche on the Le Mans pedestal in 1970 and 1971.

The 917K was of course introduced in 1970 after drivers found the original 917 to be almost undriveable at high speeds. K standing for Kurzheck, which is German for ‘short tail’.

Gooding & Co sold a 917K sold for in 2017 for $14m, making it the most expensive Porsche ever sold and remains to this day. RM Sotheby’s consigned another 917K to sell at Monterey in 2021 but failed to sell with a lower estimate of $16m.

6 - Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale - Credit: Kevin Van Campenhout

God these are pretty. Perhaps one of the prettiest cars in the world.

18 were made between 1967 and 1969. It was the fastest commercially available car for a standing KM when introduced. It was derived from Alfa’s Tipo 33 which raced in the Sports Car World Championship and more.

The 33 Stradale was also one of the most expensive sports cars of its time. It was sold for around $17,000 in 1968, which was nearly six times more expensive than the average car. It was also around 20 percent more expensive than the Lamborghini Miura. The 33 Stradale is now estimated at more than $10 million, but no one really knows since they never come to the public market for sale.

Fun fact: early cars have twin-headlights and later cars have single-headlights.

7 - Jaguar XKSS

Steve McQueen in his 'Green Rat' XKSS
Steve McQueen in his 'Green Rat' XKSS - Credit: Petersen Museum

The XKSS is a road going version of the D-Type that was launched in 1954. The first XKSS rolled off the production line in 1957. 25 were intended to roll out the factory doors, only 16 managed to do so. On 12th February 1957 a fire broke out and destroyed 9 of the 25 vehicles.

Those 9 are important, in March 2016 Jaguar announced it would be completing the original 25 car order by hand-building the remaining nine XKSS roadsters to the exact original specification, and assigning them the chassis numbers of the destroyed cars. A continuation car sold in 2020 for $1.985m.

An original XKSS went to auction in 2017 with Gooding and didn’t meet its $13,000,000 lower estimate.

8 - Aston Martin DB1

Aston Martin DB1
Aston Martin DB1 - Credit: Classic & Sports Car

The Aston Martin DB1 is one of the rarest luxury sports cars in the world, it was also the first car of the DB series - named after Sir David Brown, who purchased Aston Martin in 1947.

It was manufactured from 1948 to 1950 with only 15 rolling off the producing line. One car entered the 1948 Spa 24 hour and took the top step of the podium.

For the regular consumer it was priced at more than £3000 with Purchase Tax, the equivalent of £110,000 today.

9 - Ferrari F50 GT

Ferrari F50 GT
Ferrari F50 GT - Credit: Wikipedia

The racing derivative of the F50. It was intended to compete in the BPR Global GT Series against other series rivals, such as the McLaren F1 GTR. However, the project ended up being cancelled as the rivals stepped up their game, thus making the Ferrari F50 inferior both in terms of performance and design.

In the beginning, Maranello planned to build six F50 GT chassis, but only three were completed before the project was halted. Only one complete car was put together for testing on chassis 001. Chassis 002 and 003 received bodies after the GT program was cancelled and all three cars were sold to Ferrari customers. The remaining incomplete chassis were apparently destroyed.

One F50 GT is owned by mwvmnw a Hong Kong based real estate billionaire who you can follow on Instagram here. His collection is wild.

An F50 GT sold in 2000 for $1.43m by RM.

10 - Aston Martin DBR1

It is most famous as the victor of the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans, Aston Martin's only outright victory at the endurance classic. It is one of only three cars in the 1950s to win both the World Sports Car Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours in the same year (the others being the Ferrari 375 Plus in 1954 and the Ferrari 250TR in 1958).

During 18 races, it won 9 of those with the likes of Roy Salvadori, Caroll Shelby, Jim Clark and Stirling Moss behind the wheel.

Quite the roll of honour.

So much so that in August 2017 DBR1/1 was sold for $22,555,000 - a world record price for a British made car.

11 - Bugatti Type 41 Royale

1927 Bugatti Type 41 Royale
1927 Bugatti Type 41 Royale - Credit: Bugatti

The Type 41, better known as the Royale was built from 1927 to 1933. It was enormous in every way.

It weighs 3,175kg - that’s over 25% heavier than a 2017 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

It’s 6.4m in length - that’s 20% longer than a 2017 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

It boasts a 12.7L engine - that’s just silly.

Ettore Bugatti planned to build 25 and sell them to royalty as the peak of luxury for $30,000 but the Great Depression that hit in 1929 and lasted for a decade meant they were only able to sell 3 of the 7 made.

Six exist with the prototype being destroyed in an accident in 1931, and each has a different body, some having been re-bodied several times

Bizarrely enough, the engines were re-used successfully in newly constructed high-speed railcars for the French National Railway.

In 1983 Christie's sold chassis 41141 known as the Kellner car for £5.5m. That’s £20.6m in today’s money.

So, there we have it. Which of the 11 would you most like the keys to (if you could)?


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