THE SCENE IN EUROPE
I bought a 360 Challenge Stradale via a private sale, but the owner was actually a Volkswagen dealer in Cologne. I had it for only about three months before the F430 coupe was announced.
I walked into Maranello Motors in Cologne in August 2004 and said that I wanted to order a Ferrari F430 with the F1 transmission. I told them I wanted all the options except park distance control. I wanted the racing seats, the leather trim with red stitching, leather on the dash and door panels, and the carbon ceramic brakes.
The F430's delivery date was set for March or April 2005. And the car arrived on time. The dealer's service is only average. It's similar to what you'd get at a Volkswagen dealer. I don't feel like I'm treated like a special customer, like I own a $200,000 car. I feel like I own a base BMW 5-series. At some point, everyone at the dealership, from the salesman to the service manager, has pissed me off about something.
THE VIEW FROM INSIDE
There are far too many buyers and not enough cars, it's that simple. The amount of money in the Ferrari world is crazy. Many of our customers are between twenty-five and thirty years old. Our top clients are not our wealthiest. Some guys who are less than billionaires buy more cars than the ultrarich.
Most of our customers care nothing about the 0-to-60-mph time or how fast the car can lap Fiorano. It's the same now as it was in 1776, when Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations: rich people love to have what others can't have. That is Ferrari.
Our A-plus guys (who have bought multiple cars from us) get cars at sticker price, and they get the cars first. If you walk in off the street, the wait is two to four years if you don't want to pay over sticker. If you've never talked to the dealer before and you want to buy a 599GTB for sticker, it isn't going to happen. The car is just too hot. If you're willing to throw down about $30,000 over list price, you might be able to have a car in about six months. Some dealers will even charge up to $120,000 over sticker. The only Ferrari that's in stock and that can easily be had for list price is the 612 Scaglietti.
Ferrari North America hates it when dealers sell cars for more than list price, because they were burned by this back in the late 1980s. Some states have very liberal lemon laws, and if a buyer wins a judgment against the car company, he's awarded the transaction price, not the sticker price. Ferrari had to buy back at least one F40 from a customer for about $1 million.
Then there's the issue of keeping long-term buyers happy. As an example, if a dealer is getting only five 430 Scuderias but has fifteen long-standing customers who want one, who gets the cars? No matter what you do, you're going to have ten angry customers.