The 550 Maranello and 456 GT and GTA are today’s state-of-the-art grand touring Ferraris, offering supercar performance in a luxurious and very stylish package. Yet in the past year these cars have dropped drastically in value. Today, real money for a 1995 456 GT with low miles, good colors and full service is about $95,000 while a 1997 550 with the same features will sell for about $150,000, both down about $40,000 in the last year.

Further, less-than-perfect cars are taking a real hit. At the eBay/Kruse auction in Scottsdale, a yellow partial repspray, non-mileage-verified, lease-return (how’s that for a list of attributes) 1997 456 GT (S/N 100270) sold on Saturday for $88,250, and was resold on Sunday for $94,350 (page 33). I wouldn’t want to be the one trying to resell it again.

Of course, all new cars, even Ferraris, depreciate. But this recent drop has been hastened by a recession centered on the high-tech industries and the drop in the NASDAQ. The consensus among dealers is that high-tech whiz-kids in their 20s, 30s and early 40s made up a solid 25 percent of the recent new Ferrari buyers. Many have left the market until their businesses recover.

Additionally, both the 550 and the 456 are near the end of their production run and will be replaced soon. This means many of those who can afford to play are waiting for the latest new toy and have already had, and often sold, their 456 or 550, adding more cars to the secondary market.

Remember that few people use their new Ferraris on a daily basis. They are more often purchased as a statement of success. And somehow, bragging about “getting a good deal on a used, lease-return 456” doesn’t carry the same panache as saying, “I cashed in a few options and went down to Ferrari of Seattle to pick up my new 360 Modena Spyder.”

Ferrari 456

While Ferrari now builds world cars, with identical emissions and safety equipment wherever they are sold, the cost of a new 550 or 456 is much more in the US than in Europe. Many enthuiasts and entrepreneurs have taken advantage of this Ferrari arbitrage and bought, converted and imported Euro cars, making that many more cars available in our market.

The good news, of course, is that if your reasons for owning a 456 or 550 extend beyond impressing the parking lot attendant at Spago, these cars are becoming really good buys. Furthermore, with a 550 at $150,000 approaching the value of a good Daytona (about $125,000) and a 456 GT at $95,000 (not too much over the price of a good 365 GTC/4 at $60,000). I believe that both the 550 and the 456 are nearing the bottom of their depreciation cycles. Post-1970s serial-production Ferraris seem to find a level and just stay there, like 308 GTSs at $25,000–$30,000 or first-generation Testamsas in the $40,000–$60,000 range.

It is my prediction that within a year a 1997 US-model 550 Maranello will bottom out at about $125,000 while a similar 456 will stabilize at about $75,000. For the user, both offer one hell of a lot of performance for not a lot of money—and if properly taken care of, will suffer very little from further depreciation.

More Articles

Ferrari F1, #1, 1966-1969

Collecting, then and now   There was a time when a Ferrari collection began with a Dino or a Daytona and over time a 330 GTC or a 365 GTC/4 would be added. […]

READ MORE

A Rising Tide

In 1996 Jean Sage and Jacques Swaters started the Shell Historic Ferrari Challenge in Europe, creating an event where one could see and be seen with an eligible historic Ferrari. Add in a […]

READ MORE

The Last Factory Hot-Rod

Just as the F40 represents the ultimate Ferrari street car of the 80’s and early 90’s with 470 horsepower in a 2,800 lb. package, the F40 LM, built by Michelotto for Ferrari, with […]

READ MORE

Ferrari Enzo vs. McLaren F1

Comparing the ultimate supercars is much like comparing the various attributes of the world’s top supermodels: It’s all about what fantasy turns your crank, as few of us mere mortals will ever get […]

READ MORE

Fake Ferraris for Fun and Profit

Purists dismiss replica Ferraris as fakes that should never have been built, while aficionados who missed the first round of hiring at Microsoft appreciate their timeless beauty and affordable performance. However, in any […]

READ MORE

Ferrari F1, #4 1981-1985 The Turbo-Era Begins

Where we left off In the third installment of this series we reviewed Ferrari’s three Drivers Championships; with the 312T in 1975 and 312 T2 in 1977 with Lauda and again with the […]

READ MORE