12 Celebrity Cars That Were Auctioned Off For A Ridiculous Amount

Classic cars often gain high-value levels just by virtue of rarity. Many desirable classics are rare because few of them still exist, and generally, sports and luxury cars tend to be the rarest and most valuable, although some more typical passenger cars can gain value for a variety of peculiar reasons.

Stunningly rare automobiles often sell for insane amounts of cash at auction, such as the extraordinarily rare and special Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe that sold in 2022 for $143 million, shattering all records. However, another factor that tends to add value is celebrity. The rich and famous often enjoy owning classic cars and many build collections as they gather wealth. Celebrity ownership can add significant value to a car — and though it can be hard to predict just how much a celebrity car will sell for until the auction hammer actually comes down, here are twelve that sold for ridiculous amounts.

Princess Diana - Ford Escort RS Turbo

Princess Diana, Duchess of Wales, was one of the most beloved of all royals before her untimely death in 1997. While she entered the British royal family in a fairytale wedding, controversy would surround the Princess as she eventually divorced Prince Charles amid allegations of infidelity and general incompatibility of the two as a couple. Sadly, she succumbed to injuries as a result of a car crash that happened while she and her boyfriend fled the paparazzi in a high-speed crash in Paris, per History Channel.

Many people may not know her as a petrolhead, but one of her personal cars clues us in. One of Diana's cars in the late '80s was a slick, black Ford Escort RS Turbo, a highly desirable car of the time. A far cry from the Rolls Royce or Bentleys one would assume to be in the garage of the royals, the Escort is an icon of the European "hot hatch" craze that took hold in the period. Today, the RS Turbo is a highly collectible car that can get a price in the tens of thousands, but this particular royal Escort sold for the astonishing price of £650,000 (about $764,000), according to BS News.

Steve McQueen - Porsche 917K

For many, the name McQueen elicited the aura of fast driving and smooth talking. Hollywood heartthrob Steve McQueen liked to go fast on-screen and off. McQueen found fame for acting in such films as "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Great Escape," but perhaps is best known for the car-centric action films "Bullitt" and "LeMans," per IMDB. He took his affinity for driving on-screen into the real world, becoming a competitive driver in both auto and motorcycle racing, according to the Porsche Newsroom.

In the late '60s, Porsche developed the air-cooled 12-cylinder 917K to compete in "LeMans," and it became one of Porsche's most successful cars on the track. It was the 917K that McQueen drove to victory in the racing-inspired film about the race of the same name. While the film proved to be a box office failure, it has since become a cult classic among race fans. McQueen drove a real example of the winning Porsche and gained ownership of it once it was retired from competition a few years after the movie wrapped filming, according to Motor Authority. Although another 917K from the film sold in 2017 for $14 million, this one failed to sell, despite its estimates of $16 to $18 million.

Clark Gable - Mercedes-Benz 300SL

Clark Gable, one of the highest-paid and most prolific actors of his day, died in 1960 of a heart attack at the age of 59. He lived a full life, having spent time as a roustabout in the oil fields, a stint as an Army officer in WWII, and married some five times before his demise. He raked in as much as $48,000 per week for his work in the film "The Misfits," according to the L.A. Times. It is fitting that the Academy Award-winning actor would drive a Mercedes-Bens 300SL, among the most expensive cars built in the '50s.

Mercedes-Benz produced the 300SL with an eye on racing, creating the car with lightweight materials, a tubular frame, and the first fuel injection system used on a production automobile. American importer Max Hoffman persuaded Mercedes to export the car to the U.S., and it was a hit once it arrived (via Wired). According to the manufacturer, Gable bought the car new in Hollywood for $7,295. It passed through a few hands over the years until receiving a full restoration in 1989. The expectation for the Barrett-Jackson auction was for a sale of $2 million or more but failed to reach its reserve at $1.9 million. It was later sold for $1.85 million. Even at that price, it seems the star power had some effect as usual sales prices are just now exceeding $2 million for this car.

Carroll Shelby - AC Cobra 427 Super Snake

It could be argued the man most responsible for making American cars known for producing huge amounts of power and unrelenting speed is Mr. Carroll Shelby. Immortalized in the film "Ford v Ferrari," Shelby helped Ford in its desire to kick Ferrari from the throne as king of the race track. After being brought to the team at FFord Racing, Shelby sought an English auto manufacturer in modifying its Ace model to fit a Ford V8 under the hood (bonnet). The AC Cobra was born and became the most desirable American sports car of the period (via Silodrome).

The Cobra proved to be a huge success, winning on the track and selling in the showroom. As the father of the Cobra, Shelby owned one of the later models with the largest engines, the Cobra 427 Super Snake. While nice, original Cobras now sell regularly in the $2 to $3 million range, Shelby's Super Snake crossed the auction block for $5.94 million in 2021. Shelby's name adds value to almost any car bearing it, but one that he drove personally makes it worth a fortune.

Sean Connery - Aston Martin DB5

The original James Bond, Sean Connery, left that role and continued to have a great career, starring in such films as "The Hunt For Red October" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." Connery was an avid bodybuilder and placed third in a 1950 Mr. Universe competition. He then went to play bit parts and assorted small roles until landing the gig in Dr. No, premiering as James Bond and changing movie history forever. As one of the most successful film franchises ever, Connery received high acclaim and wealth from his part in the movies.

Connery as James Bond and his Q-equipped Aston Martin DB5 may have also kept the boutique car make in business as the movies elevated Aston Martin's stature almost overnight. Connery left the franchise in the early '70s, reprising his role once in 1983 for a different production company, and worked prolifically until his death at the age of 92. While he may have had a part in making the DB5 famous, it was not until two years before passing in 2018 that he bought a DB5 for himself, according to Barron's. It went under the hammer with a final bid at $2.425 million in 2022. Old Astons bring pretty good money these days, but this auction was driven by stout Scottish star power.

Paul Newman - Chevrolet Corvette

As one of the original heartthrobs of the silver screen beginning in the '50s with a film career spanning more than half a century, Paul Newman remains one of Hollywood's most recognizable figures. His career included beloved films "Cool Hans Luke" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" as well as performing the voice of Doc Hudson in the first "Cars" movie from Disney (via IMDB). He was also a generous philanthropist, establishing Newman's Own, a gourmet food company that gives all profits to charity helping sick children. Furthermore, he was an avid racer, not only driving in SCCA competitions but also owning a team fielding SCCA and IndyCar teams and continuing to race until the age of 80, according to Grunge.

With everything that Newman did, is it reasonable to expect his name to have a substantial effect on an auto auction? The last car he raced in was a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette fully built and prepped to race SCCA. It had a 346 cubic inch V8 good for 700 horsepower and Newman powered it to first place — at 80! While any race-prepped Corvette would be expected to sell for a pretty penny, few, if any, will sell for $275,000, as his did in 2012, per Car Buzz. Newman's legacy on film may be upstaged by his charitable contributions that continue to help long after his passing.

Andy Warhol - Ferrari 857

The life and career of art sensation Andy Warhol is full of controversy, sensationalism, and glamour. As one of New York's most prominent pop artists, Warhol lived a life as eclectic as his art. His life allowed him to be a fixture of the NYC social scene, making appearances at high-profile clubs such as Club 54. The popularity of his art earned him large sums of money that fueled his lavish lifestyle (via Britannica). For our purposes, we will focus on a red 1955 Ferrari 857 Sport he once owned.

The car in question is a beautiful car built during the buildup of one of the most successful racing teams in history. It is said that the only reason Enzo Ferrari built cars for sale to the public was only to fund his continuing racing endeavors. Therefore, early Ferraris are mostly racing cars made to be driven on the roads. The 857 is a beautiful example of an early Ferrari and one of the cars to be equipped with a Lempredi 4-cylinder twin-cam engine. Although, to say this car was Warhol's is almost misleading. Warhol bought the car in 1966 intending to use it in a parody film of "The Yellow Rolls-Royce." The film was never made and it is unknown if Warhol ever drove the car. Regardless, it changed hands a few times until it ended up at Pebble Beach in 2012, selling for $6,270,000, Warhol ownership notwithstanding (via Concept Carz).

Fred Astaire - Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder by Scaglietti

From the Golden Age of Hollywood, there was no finer dancer than Fred Astaire. With his wife, Ginger Rogers, Astaire dazzled moviegoers with footwork that continues to be among the best ever caught on film. Starting out in vaudeville and graduating next to Broadway, Astaire showed a natural talent from a very young age. As a leading man supported by some of the biggest leading ladies of his day, Astaire amassed a following that reached well beyond our shores.

While Fred Astaire never owned it, a 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder shall forever be inextricably linked to the dancer. The car began life on the racing circuit, racing in several series, finishing toward the head of the pack. However, it was destined for Hollywood in 1957 when Stanley Kramer Productions bought the car for use in the movies. Astaire traded in his dancing shoes for a dramatic role in "On The Beach" as his character uses the Ferrari to compete in what is hailed as the last Australian Grand Prix in this post-apocalyptic film. The Ferrari ends up having the trifecta of being a rare Ferrari, driven by a great actor, and used on screen in a Hollywood blockbuster. As a result, it sold for $2,530,000 in 2011 at Sotheby's.

Elvis Presley - Mercedes 600 Pullman

Mercedes-Benz created one of the greatest cars ever in 1963 — the 600 Pullman. The most luxurious car available at the time, the 600 came equipped with many features not seen before. Chief among them was a unique hydraulic system that powered everything from the brakes to the sunroof to the truck decklid. Furthermore, it debuted the first Mercedes V8, a 6.3-liter mechanically fuel injected overhead cam unit. It was also available in special versions with added armor and bulletproof glass, favorites among unsavory leaders such as Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein. However, as popular as these cars were among despots, they also attracted wealthy celebrities such as Elvis Presley.

Elvis owned a lot of cars in his lifetime and was famous for giving them away. He was also famous for his love of Cadillac and Lincoln, including many limousines, but he owned a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 600. Like so many others in his collection, he probably did not drive this car much and his ownership was somewhat brief. He gave the car to friend and fellow musician Jimmy Velvet, who owned it for many years after the King's death (via The Drive). Most recently, it ended up on Bring a Trailer in a charity auction that earned a winning bid of $288,888, according to Hagerty. Considering these Pullmans generally sell in the $150,000 range, it is obvious Elvis Presley's name still pulls some weight.

Buster Posey - 1967 Ford Mustang Eleanor Tribute

Players of professional sports can amass a great deal of wealth. Many players like to buy cars, especially fast ones. Buster Posey, catcher for the San Franciso Giants, has had a fruitful career, winning awards such as Minor League Player of the Year, Post-Season All-Star, and even an Emmy for his work in the Giants commercials. Having a long and successful career in MLB is rewarding enough to buy a couple of toys. One such toy of Posey's was a Ford Mustang.

The Posey Mustang is a fully built custom car with astonishing power. It was built as a tribute to the automotive star in the 2000 Nicholas Cage film "Gone in 60 Seconds," a gray 1967 Ford Mustang fastback. His is a license-built version with a giant 572ci, 828 horsepower V8 engine, and a litany of other performance parts for the engine and suspension. It is a classic car but was built ground up with modern technology. 67 fastbacks are rising in value and the Eleanor tribute builds start at around $200,000, but this pony car hit the auction block with a final bid of $550,000 (via Barrett-Jackson). Some lucky bidder at the auction that day is a huge movie nut, a big Mustang nerd, a giant baseball fan, or some combination of all three.

Burt Reynold - Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Few movies are as closely associated with a car as "Smokey and the Bandit." It could be said that the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am is as much a star of the movie as is Burt Reynolds playing The Bandit. Featuring an all-star cast of Burt Reynolds, Sally Fields, Jackie Gleason, and Jerry Reed, "Smokey and the Bandit" was among the top-grossing movies of the year — Star Wars was number one. Since then it has been a fan favorite worldwide. While Reynolds already had an established acting career, this is the film with which it is most closely associated, so it is fitting that he would own a slick, black Trans Am just like the one in the movie.

Bandit not only did well at the box office, but it also significantly boosted sales for Pontiac. After seeing the movie, car buyers all over the country wanted to see themselves in the iconic pony car, complete with the "Screaming Chicken" decal emblazoned across the hood. As a thank you to the star that drove the car to its status as the epitome of cool, GM gifted a car to Burt Reynolds after the film came out. It appears that Reynolds held on to this car through the resort of his life, which ended in 2018 from natural causes. The car later went up for auction, selling for about $500,000, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Alan Shepard - 1968 Chevrolet Corvette

In 1968, few experiences could top the thrill of heading all-out down the highway in a big block Chevrolet Corvette. However, for a select few, that experience pales in comparison to leaving the atmosphere on a rocket en route to the moon. One of those people was Alan Shepard, the first American in space and the only human to step foot on the moon and play some golf. Shepard was a Corvette owner before he ever blasted off in a rocket, but also took advantage of a brilliant public relations program developed by GM to lease Corvettes to Astronauts for just one dollar, according to Motor Biscuit.

Leasing the cars to the astronauts meant they could not be construed as gifts, as ethics rules regulate how gifts can be accepted by government employees. Most of the Corvettes were eventually returned to the dealer, although Shepard kept at least one of his. According to GM Authority, Shepard was a Corvette fan and owned 10 of them over the years, starting with a 1953 model he bought from his father-in-law. He also bought one of his "astronaut vettes" at the end of the lease and that went up for auction in 2022. Shepard's car is a white 1968 convertible with a 427ci big block V8 mated to a four-speed transmission. At the time of auction, it remained in original, unrestored condition, showing that it was driven, but well maintained. The winning bid was $308,000 for (via Barrett-Jackson).