Buying your first Ferrari
YouTube star and Magnitude customer Sam of Seen Through Glass recently acquired his first Ferrari – a manual 360. He shares his buying experience, enthusiasm for the brand and his new car – we’ll share our first time Ferrari buyer’s tips…
“One day I’ll own a Ferrari….” – a phrase that has crossed the lips of generations of car lovers, it’s an automotive rite of passage. Ferrari ownership is arguably more accessible than it has ever been, with Ferrari producing more cars than ever and a selection of ways to pay but before you rush out there are some things you may want to consider.
Why own a Ferrari?
If you haven’t already at least partially answered this question for yourself, you probably shouldn’t be buying one in the first place. However, there are a few reasons besides the obvious allure of owning a sports car created by one of the worlds most intoxicating brands – residuals for a start. The strength of the Ferrari brand and the limited number of cars they produce mean that pre-owned Ferraris are generally speaking in a league of their own in terms of holding their value when compared to the competition – more on this later. Sheer driving enjoyment, access to events, networking opportunities, the chance to be a custodian of a piece of automotive history….. do we need to go on? So you are set on acquiring your first Ferrari – which one should you buy?
Your first Ferrari – which is best?
For the sake of argument, we’re going to assume that for your first Ferrari you aren’t going in all guns blazing and purchase a 250 GTO, so let’s take a look at cars under the £100,000 price bracket. Ferrari 458s are now available from around £120,000 (at the time of writing), but these will have higher mileage so may not be ideal for the first time Ferrari purchaser.
So what are we looking at? For the first time buyer, the V8 cars are the sensible option so anything from a F430 backwards. This gives buyers plenty of scope dependent on how fast or how analogue/ old school they want their cars to be. The F430 is a true modern era supercar, a game changer in this sector when it launched in 2004. Brimming with the sort of modern driver aids that you would expect in a contemporary supercar, it’s 483 bhp falls well short of the 660 bhp of the new 488 but it still feels very quick. If you’re looking for a manual 430 for under £100,000 it’s going to have a few miles on the clock and you’ll also need to be quick – there aren’t many around. The good news is that the 430’s F1 gearbox really was a major step up from its predecessor and good F1 cars are available in our budget.
The Ferrari 360 feels very different to the 430. Production ended in 2005, and the cabin design is beginning to show it’s age, but the exterior certainly isn’t – it’s arguably the best looking car Ferrari have produced in the last few decades. The 360 offers what must be close to the perfect driving experience for the first time supercar owner – it’s 395 bhp feels very quick (but not too quick), it’s beautifully balanced and the sound…. the 360 has a shrill V8 sound that immediately screams “Ferrari”, something that later cars have since lost. Manual cars are much more affordable than the 430, and it’s worth bearing in mind that the automated gearbox in the 360 is much less user-friendly than the next generation F1 transmission. If you like a convertible, the 360 spider was the first Ferrari to have a fully automated folding roof. Our pick of the bunch is the 360 coupe manual – pretty much the perfect choice for a first Ferrari as Sam will attest.
355 & 348
As we head back down the family Ferrari family tree, the driving experience begins to change noticeably. The 355 was close to the 360 in terms of power (375hp), was the first Ferrari to have the new F1 gearbox and also featured adjustable dampers but the overall experience feels much more old-school – it’s still great to drive, though. The design is a Pininfarina classic, the 355 sounds fantastic and was also available with a Targa roof option (GTS), but market speculation has pushed prices of 355s over those of 360s in many cases. The 355 was a major step up from the 300hp 348, which suffered from poor (and largely undeserved) publicity, partly due to some off the cuff remarks by newly appointed Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo who wasn’t a big fan. The 348 was for a while the bargain buy of the mid-engined Ferrari V8s, but prices have slowly crept up, partly because so few UK, RHD cars were delivered.
328 & 308
These two are firmly in classic car territory. Miles away from more modern cars in terms of performance, some will relish the simplicity of the older engineering and they are certainly entertaining cars to drive. More of a collector’s Ferrari than a first-time Ferrari, prices can vary wildly depending on the specification and provenance.
The Testarossa symbolises the appeal of a modern 12-cylinder Ferrari. The 12 cylinder engine is what Ferrari heritage was built on, but the biggest pitfall for a first-time buyer will be running costs. Whether you are looking at a 400i , a 599 or a 456 be aware that running costs can be high and realistically these cars aren’t an ideal first Ferrari in our opinion.
Top Tips for buying your first Ferrari
Where to look
A combination of Pistonheads, AutoTrader and Classic Driver should bring up most of the cars available on the market.
Investment potential & residuals
Over the last few years, much has been made of the investment potential of Ferraris and other collectable cars. Prices for many Ferrari models have increased dramatically over the last few years but these have since plateaued and stabilised for most models and some have even dropped back a little. Supply is still good, so the opportunity to successfully speculate on Ferraris in this price bracket is limited. However, Ferrari no longer manufactures a manual gearbox, so expect manual cars to become more sought after. “Buy it because you love it” should be your principal motivation.
Buy pretty much any Ferrari and the likelihood is that it will depreciate in the short term. Not by much maybe, but you should consider that this will be the most likely outcome. Ferrari residual values have tended to be stronger than competitors such as McLaren and Lamborghini, but this is largely model dependent. To put it in perspective, early Ferrari 430s are available from around £80,000 – not bad for a car that listed at around £120,000 12 years ago….
What to look for
Provenance and condition
The past history of the car will give you crucial clues as to how the car has been looked after in the past, whether it is worth what is being asked for it now and what it will be worth in the future. Older and less expensive cars (308, 328, 348) may have gaps in their service history, but newer and more expensive vehicles should have a really good service history, preferably with a franchised or specialist dealer. Recent spend is also important – if the last owner hasn’t spent money on the car, then it is likely you will have to. Cars like these tend to have had quite a few owners (they can change hands often very early in their history) but go on the basis of “the fewer the better”. On more modern cars – 360 onwards – look out for cars that have been on hire fleets.
Many Ferraris have had corrective paintwork or cosmetic touch-ups (Rosso Corsa chips easily and the undercoat is white), so don’t necessarily expect all paintwork to be original. Do look out for evidence of crash damage and poor repairs and don’t ignore them – if you can spot them be sure that the next potential owner will too.
The lower the better, but remember that you may be better buying a higher mileage car with a great service history than a low mileage car with little supporting paperwork.
LHD vs RHD
Classic LHD Ferraris used to be considerably cheaper than their right-hand drive equivalents but the gap has narrowed so much that unless you will be using the car extensively abroad, the saving probably isn’t worth it. On UK roads, visibility is undoubtedly compromised in a LHD car which can be frustrating in a high-performance sports car. Consider also the provenance of LHD cars that have found their way to the UK for sale – there can sometimes be issues over title, particularly for cars sold at auction without UK registration papers.
Always take the car you are looking at for a drive. If it doesn’t drive well or feels hard used, then there’s probably a reason for it. Better still, take someone with you who has driven one before.
For many potential owners, this is the elephant in the room. Ferrari parts and expertise don’t come cheap, particularly at franchised dealers but the good news is that many experienced Ferrari-trained technicians find their way into the independent sector. The cost of consumables such as clutches, brakes (particularly carbon-ceramic) and even oil can all mount up, so make sure you are willing & prepared to spend a four-figure sum on your Ferrari annually. Running costs can vary considerably between cars, so speak to a specialist about potential costs and don’t skimp on maintenance – scheduled or otherwise – as this will have a detrimental effect on the car and it’s residual value.
Our No.1 tip for buying your first Ferrari
Buy from a reputable specialist or franchised dealer.
Established specialists will stock the best cars, prepare them correctly and they should be sensibly priced. Reputation is all important for these dealers and they won’t compromise them by offering low-quality stock. If you’re not sure who to speak to, just ask one of our team or have a look at any of the relevant forums such as Pistonheads or FerrariChat for recommendations.
Now get out there and get looking! You can try our finance calculator, call us on 01943 660703 or request a call back.