WHAT’S the most expensive car ever built?

Not long ago someone paid $US35 million for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO made for racing driver Stirling Moss.

The distinctive apple-green Ferrari was one of 39 GTOs produced from 1962 to 1964.

That’s a lot of dough for just one car but it’s not the most expensive car ever – not by a long shot.

That title goes to the Lunar Roving Vehicle built for the Apollo Space Program by the Boeing aircraft company in 1971.

Back then Boeing quoted $19 million for the Rover, better known to Baby Boomers as the Moon Buggy.

But, because of cost overruns, the final figure was closer to $38 million – remember that’s in 1970s money.

One of the companies that tendered unsuccessfully for the project was Chrysler (the Moon Buggy could have been a Jeep).

As it was GM supplied the wheels, motors and suspension.

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The buggy was four-wheel drive as well as four-wheel steer, with an electric motor to drive each wheel.

Power was provided by two 36-volt, silver-zinc potassium hydroxide, non-rechargeable batteries with a capacity of 121 Ah.

The buggy could carry two astronauts and their payload a maximum distance of 92km, although the range was never put to the test in case it broke down and the

astronauts were forced to return to the Command module on foot. 

It had a top speed of 13km/h, although Apollo 17’s Eugene Cernan (the last man to walk on the Moon) recorded a maximum speed of 18 km/h, which makes him the unofficial holder of the lunar land-speed record.

The buggy was 3.1m long with a wheel-base of 2.3m and had 360mm of ground clearance.

It was constructed around an aluminium space frame (LOL), weighed 210kg and could carry a 490kg payload – but weighed just 35 kilos on the Moon’s surface because of its lower gravitational force.

The wheels consisted of a spun aluminium hub and a diameter of 81.8cm, with 23cm wide tire made of zinc-coated, woven 0.083cm diameter steel strands attached to the rim and discs of formed aluminium.

The Moon buggy was used for the first time on July 31, 1971 as part of the Apollo 15 mission. 

It was left-hand drive and driven by the mission commander, although the T-shaped control stick was actually located between the seats.

The two folding ‘deck chairs’ the astronauts sat on were made of aluminium and nylon webbing and fitted with Velcro seatbelts to stop the astronauts from bouncing out.

Four buggies were constructed in total and three of them remain abandoned on the Moon – all with very low kilometres for the collectors out there.

The fourth was used for spares.

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.