Ferrari Train-Spotters

Train-spotters comprise a unique English sub-culture who wander out onto the moors in rain, sleet and snow to record the serial numbers on the sides of passing freight cars, passenger cars, and locomotives. These numbers are dutifully entered in log books and put into databases so that the numbers, location, and travels of virtually every train in England can be carefully plotted and tracked and this information swapped with other train spotters. Only in England.

The Ferrari world has a similar tiny sub-culture, myself included, of less than a few dozen people worldwide, who record race results or ownership data on their favorite model of Ferrari.

With quantitative data at hand, tracking past and present asking prices as well as actual selling prices, it is easy to spot trends and changes in the Ferrari market. As this is written, there are three distinctly separate segments in today’s Ferrari market.

New Ferraris, such as a 456 or 348, tend to drop in value, for they are not yet, and may never be, collector cars. As an example, in early 1995, a 456 GT (S/N 100200) sold for $211,850, the window-sticker price. In early 1996, my former business, European Auto Sales and Restoration in Costa Mesa, California, resold the same 456 Ferrari, then with 800 miles showing, for $175,000. In early 1998, I sold this 456, with 9,500 miles, to its third owner for $145,000. In a few more years it will be a $125,000 car, and will probably drop to about $100,000 before finding its “bottom.”

User-friendly collector cars, the supercars of ten or 20 years ago, such as the 275 GTB/4, Daytona or 288 GTO, have found stability. In 1993 European Auto sold a Daytona Spyder, S/N 16857, for $440,000. In 1997 it was a $325,000 car and should be sold again before this article goes to press for the same $325,000. The ’90s price drop is over and stability has returned to the serial production V12 road cars of a decade or two ago.

For those few who can afford the best of the best, prices have rebounded nicely, thank you very much. About the same time the above 456 was going to its first owner in 1995, European Auto sold a nicely restored 375 MM Spyder to an American client for just under $1,000,000. In the last 30 days, I have offered the owner of this car, and indeed the owners of several other 375 MMs, over $2,000,000 for their cars, without success. Credit a stock market over 9000 and public stock offerings creating instant millionaires.

The last Ferrari boom of 1987–89 was fueled by baby boomers turning 40, too many speculators and real estate rich Japanese with 2.5% bank money. There are few speculators in today’s market; almost all high-end buyers are Ferrari-educated end users.

So if you desire a newer model Ferrari, just wait; they are a little cheaper every day. If you want a V12 Lusso or PF Coupe you couldn’t afford when you were in college 20 years ago, then buy now, it’s not going down in value. And if you’ve always wanted a 375 MM, or some other supercar that guarantees a spot on the lawn at Pebble Beach, get out your checkbook and be prepared to keep adding zeroes. The price of admission to this arena is getting higher every day; you’ll have to pay to play!

MICHAEL SHEEHAN has been a Ferrari dealer for 30 years as well as a race car driver and exotic car broker.