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

Move Over Daytona

The F40 was introduced to the press on July 21, 1987 to celebrate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary as an auto manufacturer. Original production plans were to build 400–450 cars for worldwide distribution with a […]

READ MORE

Dashing Euro Dreams

One of the side effects of the worst economic downturn in many decades has been a weak U.S. dollar. As the dollar has declined over the last 18 months, the asking prices of […]

READ MORE

The Punch of Deferred C/4 Maintenance… And How I Leaned Into It

In May of 1985 I purchased an unusually nice 365 GTC/4 S/N 14965, finished in black lacquer with black leather, and resold it immediately to a client in San Francisco. In October of […]

READ MORE

1998 McLaren F1

Photos: James Mann Chassis number: SA9AB5AC4W1048073 Engine number: GTRLM6112160531648 The idea of creating the ultimate and most exciting road car was conceived as early as 1988. Following a meeting of minds led by […]

READ MORE

The New Reality

The inspiration for this column occurred in March, when I returned from lunch to find an email from a Lusso owner who wanted us to sell his car and net himself $700,000—about $200,000 […]

READ MORE

A Black Swan

A little background Our story begins with Luigi Compiano the heir to an Italian dynasty called “North East Services” that operated a fleet of armored trucks used to transport cash, gold and other […]

READ MORE