Pay More, Get Less, Lose More

Here’s the good news. Utilizing contemporary technology, it’s possible to make your four-, six-, eight- or twelve-cylinder Ferrari much more powerful than Enzo’s minions ever dreamed possible. Here’s the bad news. The more you customize your car, the less it is worth upon resale.

When I ran European Auto, we often built trick motors for our customers. The formula is pretty simple: a standard rebuild on a Ferrari V8 is about $15,000 and on a 12-cylinder it’s about $25,000. To blueprint the motor, re-machine everything and assemble it to standards normally used only on racing engines adds about 5% to 10% to the horsepower and about $5,000 to the bill. Flowing the cylinder heads and matching them with both the intake ports and exhaust ports adds another 5 to 10% to the horsepower and another $5,000 to the bill. Trick cams, high-compression pistons and the then-required Carrillo rods (a Ferrari block that has self-ventilated at 9,000 rpm is not a pretty sight) normally adds another 5 to 10% to the horsepower and another $5,000 plus to the bill.

Performing all of the above on a car worth $25,000, such as a 308, may do wonders for driving pleasure. But you’ve quickly spent more on performance work than the car is worth, and probably had a negative effect on the resale value as well. On a $135,000 car like a Daytona, spending $10,000 for European headers and P6 or P7 cams to go from 350 horsepower to over 400 is easier to justify financially (this assumes that your basic engine is in excellent shape). But you still haven’t done anything positive to market value.

As for later model cars or those who prefer turbochargers, I have driven almost every possible combination of turbocharged Ferraris including Boxers, Testarossas, 308s and so on. While a 600-horsepower Boxer may provide an adrenaline rush that is hard to match with your clothes on, engine life is short and the end is often spectacular.

To complicate the whole issue of going faster, while a 400-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 308 GTB QV may be a thrill to drive, the cooling system, brakes, standard suspension settings and tires will no longer be adequate. Time to re-open the already well-abused checkbook for another set of necessary but devaluing modifications.

I suggest that you not modify your Ferrari unless you plan on keeping your car for many years, can amortize the cost of the upgrades over the many times you get to enjoy the car, and really don’t care what you get when you put it up for sale.

Here’s an even better suggestion. If you want a “super-trick” Ferrari, find one on which someone else has already committed financial suicide. Have it thoroughly checked out by a mechanic who understands high-performance Italian cars. Then, buy that club racer 308 with $30,000 of hot-rod engine work for … you guessed it, $25,000.