Articles

Michael Sheehan's Ferraris-online.com Article

How Many Ferraris?

There are about 37,400 Ferraris in the U.S., which gives the Ferrari Club of America ample room to add to its reported 5,000 existing members

As appeared in:

Sports Car Market—March 2009 issue

Sheehan Speaks

by Michael Sheehan

1957 Ferrari 500 TRC, rare even among the Enzo-era cars
1957 Ferrari 500 TRC, rare even among the Enzo-era cars

In my two previous columns, I divided Ferraris into the Enzo-era cars (1947–73), the Fia-era cars (1973–91), and the Montezemolo-era cars (1991–present), and I outlined how each generation fared differently in the current economy.

But I didn’t go into how many Ferraris exist and where they are, which elicited a request from Chris Current, Chief Judge of the Ferrari Club of America, asking in part:

  1. How many “old” or “classic” Ferraris, say 1975 and earlier, are there in the U.S.?
  2. How many mid-range Ferraris, say from 1976 through the 328, are there in the U.S.?
  3. We’re also looking for whatever new car info you might have.

He came to the right place

The answer to the Enzo-era cars, which end with the last of the 365 GTB/4s and 246 series, in mid-1973, is easy enough.

For the sake of round numbers, the 365 GTB/4 Daytona ended production about s/n 17000, and every other GT Ferrari (odd serial numbers only) was a street car, so figure 8,500 cars from the first of the street 166s to the last Daytona. Add in another 3,700 Dinos, for a total of 12,200 street and GT racers.

The even-numbered race cars end with s/n 896, the last of the 312 PBs, so about 448 pure race cars were built, plus another 50 racers with unique s/n sequence, such as the 206 SPs (s/n 002–036) and 512Ms (1002–1050), for a total of about 500 even-numbered racers and sport racers. Total for the Enzo era is about 12,700 cars.

Extrapolating from 2+2s

I belong to a group of obsessive-compulsive Ferrari historians, and within our group are aficionados who track individual Ferrari models. So I asked for a breakdown of the cars they track, by country. As an example of the detailed information within the group, Bill Preston, who runs the 250 GTE registry, had detailed information on 777 of the 961 250 GTEs, with 184 as black holes in his database.

The U.S. has by far the greatest number of 250 GTEs, with 324. England follows with 79, the Swiss with 76, France with 53, and down the charts we went. Numbers add up, however, and collectively, the 27 countries that make up the European Economic Union have 370 Ferrari 250 GTEs. With 777 known and 324 in the U.S., about 42% of 250 GTE 2+2 production is in the U.S.

Moving to Kerry Chesbro and his 330 GT registry (www.330gt.com), there were 50 330 Americas, 503 four-headlight Series I 330 2+2s, 124 interim 330 2+2s with four headlights and a 5-speed, and 460 Series II two-headlight 330 2+2s… for a total of 1,137 cars, with 712 known.

Of the 712 cars known still to be in existence in 1990, 297 are in the U.S. That’s about 42% of the known 330 2+2 production. Extrapolate that out to all of the Enzo-era cars built from 1947 to the last of the 365 GTB/4s and 246 GTSs, and again you come up with about 12,700 cars. About 43% of them—5,500 cars—are in the U.S.

Fiat ups production, but keeps track

The Fiat-era cars are less convoluted, as the days of one-offs and small runs of pure racers had ended. Additionally, Ferrari published annual production figures and provided the U.S. sales numbers, making the job easier.

The Fiat-era cars started in mid 1973 with s/n 17185, the first of the 365 BBs, and went up to s/n 75001 using odd serial numbers only, for a run of about 28,900 cars. From s/n 75001 onward, both odd and even numbers were used, with the Fiat era ending during the overlap of the last of the 348s, s/n 99934, or the first of the 355s, starting with s/n 98395.

Using s/n 98395 as the dividing line for the first of the Montezemolo-era cars, the Fiat-era Ferraris ended their production run using every s/n from 75001 to 98395, for another 23,394 Ferraris. Adding 28,900 and 23,394, we get some number around 52,000 Fiat-era Ferraris.

Many of the Fiat-era cars, such as the 365 BB, 512 BB and 512 BBi, 365 GT/4, 400i, and 412, were never intended for the U.S. market, so lower percentages were sold new into the U.S., and others were imported as used cars. For example, in 1982, when only the 308 was U.S.-legal, Ferrari built 2,209 cars, of which only 686, or just 30%, were U.S. cars.

Fast forward to 1985 through 1989, a time when Ferrari had the hot-selling U.S.-legal Testarossa, 308, and 328. But in 1985, of 3,288 cars built by Ferrari, only 624, or 19%, were U.S.-spec. cars. In 1988, Ferrari’s first year to hit 4,001 cars built, only 1,079, or 26%, were U.S. models. Overall, of the 52,000 Fiat-era cars built, only about 13,000, or about 25%, were US models.

Montezemolo’s revenge

The Montezemolo cars start in 1991 at about s/n 98395, and the highest VINs are in the 165500 s/n range, for a total of about 67,500 cars built. While the U.S. once dominated the world’s economies and absorbed the largest proportion of Ferrari sales, we are now in a far more global market. The final 2007 numbers are not in, but Ferrari notes 5,700 units sold worldwide in 2006, with 1,635 of them in North America. Canadian sales are small, so reckon on about 28% of current production coming to the U.S.

288 GTO, flagship of the Fiat days
288 GTO, flagship of the Fiat days
Enzo, Montezemolo’s supercar
Enzo, Montezemolo’s supercar

With 67,500 Montezemolo-era Ferraris built, and 28% sold new in the U.S., that equates to about 19,000 newer Ferraris in this country.

The U.S. total comes to 5,500 Enzo-era Ferraris, 13,000 Fiat-era Ferraris, and another 18,900 Montezemolo-era Ferraris, for a total of about 37,400 Ferraris in the U.S. That gives the Ferrari Club of America ample room to add to its reported 5,000 existing members, although I understand that number has dwindled to 4,700 in the last few months.

As I was wrapping up this column, Bill Preston recommended a new and fastidiously well-researched book, Handbuch der Ferrari Seriennummern, by Matthias Urban, written in both English and German (in the same book). Within 979 pages of fine print covering serial numbers from 001 up through 152537 (a 2007 599 GTB Fiorano), Urban lists not only the car built, but also the cars not built. Alas, time constraints (and my pay scale) mean that cross-checking about 35,000 serial numbers to find cars that were not built will have to wait for another column.