Car makers have always provided a level of VIP treatment for millionaires, but manufacturers today are having to supply a new wave of status-obsessed billionaires with bespoke, limited edition cars that trump everything else on the road: the world’s most expensive cars.
Bling and brawn are taken to another level, and the cars are usually developed in secret and shown to select clients up to a year before lesser drivers even know of their existence.
There’s no such thing as a showroom price – if you have to ask the price, then you know it’s out of your league - and nothing is too much trouble for the car makers when the customers have bottomless pockets in their tailor-made suits.
These are the five most expensive production cars ever sold. To feature in this list, more than one must’ve been made.
The manufacturers may not reveal who bought them, but we can reveal what people paid to live life in the luxury lane.
1. Lamborghini Veneno, £2.5m; Veneno Roadster, £2.68m
When the Lamborghini Veneno was revealed in 2013, near the exclusive shores of Lake Geneva, millionaires who rushed to see it were in for a shock: they couldn’t afford it. The shame.
Just three Venenos were made and each cost around £2.5m before taxes. If you weren’t an oil sheikh, oligarch or tech billionaire, and more importantly if you were unknown to Lamborghini, then you wouldn’t get a look in.
Despite the price, the three Venenos could have been sold many times over. So in 2014, Lamborghini tripled production of the roadster version, and the nine cars cost £2.68m. Each.
But where’s the best place to launch such an eye-wateringly expensive indulgence? Why, Abu Dhabi of course - home to some of Lamborghini’s best customers. Like iced drinks in the desert, they sold out immediately.
There’s no such thing as a showroom price – if you have to ask the price, then you know it’s out of your league
Buyers got one of the most outlandish looking cars on the road. It has a 6.5-litre V12 engine with 740bhp and the top speed is 221mph. But ultimately, when it comes down to bragging rights – and it always does with cars like this - none of that matters as much as the car’s price.
2. Lykan HyperSport, £2.17m
Lykan, an unknown sports car company, pulled off quite a stunt for the launch of its Hypersport. It wasn’t looking to sell any more than a handfuls of cars. The company paraded it around the gold-paved streets of Monaco, where multi-millionaire entrepreneurs rub shoulders with sporting superstars and royalty.
To entice Sultans of Bling, Lykan added the sort of ingredients you couldn’t get on your common Porsches and Ferraris. Diamonds were set into the headlamp clusters and gold thread stitched together the interior’s leather trim. Climbing into one was said to feel like walking into Monte-Carlo’s legendary Hotel de Paris.
The Lykan HyperSport uses a twin turbo, 740bhp flat-six-cylinder engine that is built by RUF, a renowned German sports car tuner. It goes without saying that it’s fast (0-62mpg in just 2.8 seconds) but it also comes with the comfort of knowing that should billionaire drivers blow it up, they’ll be recovered by a team of flying engineers any time, anywhere.
3. McLaren P1 GTR, £1.98m
Only in the world of billionaires would it seem like a good idea to hand over almost £2m for a car that can’t be driven on the public road. But that’s just what happens when someone buys a GTR version of McLaren’s P1 supercar.
Select customers — who must already own a standard £866,000 P1 — are invited to join a special club, said to be the closest thing to belonging to McLaren’s Formula One team.
P1 GTRs are built around the driver’s dimensions. But to ensure that the driver is up to the job of manhandling a 986bhp speed machine, the British company puts them through fitness training and offers coaching at famous racetracks.
Which begs the question: has anyone ever been deemed unsuitable for the task of controlling one of the fastest objects on four wheels, and discreetly offered a refund?
4. Ferrari Sergio, £1.97m
You had to be a very good customer indeed for Ferrari to invite you to buy one of its Sergio models. Just six were made to massage egos; they sold out before the car was revealed to the public, yet the asking price was £1.97m.
The attraction was all about how the car signified one of the most successful partnerships in the world of beautiful sports cars. Sergio Pininfarina, founder of the Italian styling house that had created some of the most beautiful Ferraris since they joined forces in 1951, passed away in 2012.
With its screaming V8 engine (borrowed from the Ferrari 458 Speciale) and the freedom to have the car painted and trimmed to the owner’s taste, the Sergio was a fitting tribute to one of the car world’s most influential relationships.
5. Ferrari FXX K, £1.97m
The Ferrari FXX K squares up to the McLaren P1 GTR and neither machine is prepared to back down.
The Ferrari is cheaper, by the price of a swimming pool. But in a world of billionaire petrol-heads, it’s not unheard for them to make the easy decision and buy both.
Buying an FXX K was on an invitation-only basis. After handing over the best part of £2m, you don’t get to put it in your garage; oh no. Ferrari cares for and transports the car around the world, taking it to exclusive driving events on behalf of its owner.
All owners have to do is turn up and drive. But when it has 1,035bhp (yes, it makes a Formula One racing car seem more like a shopping trolley than a thoroughbred) that’s more difficult than it sounds.