Do you want a Ferrari? Of course you do. You’ve got the money? Great. But that doesn’t mean you can actually buy one. A very limited supply and an almost unlimited demand immensely complicate the process of buying a new Ferrari. For one thing, that imbalance creates The List. And The List is shrouded in mystery. How do you get on The List? How can you move up The List? Does it take money, connections, or what? To help you in your quest, we talked to buyers, would-be buyers, dealers, and company spokesmen. Here’s what they had to say about the murky world of the new-Ferrari purchase:
THE COMPANY LINE
Public Relations Manager
Ferrari North America
We’re still quoting a two-year average waiting list for North America. I’m afraid there are no ways around it. There’s not a lot that can be done. For the past fourteen years, we have steadily increased the number of cars we import to North America. It’s generally about five percent more each year [1635 total in 2006]. If you’re a new customer and you want to become part of the Ferrari family, try to buy a pre-owned car. That’s the best way to go. Ferrari North America always encourages its dealers and service managers to foster the relationship with owners of pre-owned vehicles, as they could become potential new clients. Ferrari North America has a policy of discouraging dealers from selling cars above list price.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon
Ann Arbor, Michigan
I had Porsches for a long time, but I always had my heart set on buying a Ferrari. Ever since I was a kid I wanted one. [When the 360 Modena came out] I went to Cauley Ferrari [a Detroit-area dealership]. They told me it would take four years to get a 360, so I decided I would look around for a used F355 to have while I waited. I found a used 355 from a Ferrari dealership in Lake Forest, Illinois. That’s how I started.
Almost exactly four years later, the 360 arrived. When I bought the 360 coupe, I put my name on the list for the 360 Spyder. It doesn’t cost anything to put your name on the waiting list, so I figured, why not?
At the time, I asked, “What happens if the 360 goes out of production while I’m still on the wait list?” And they said, “We’ll roll your name over for the 360 replacement.” I [bought the 360 Spyder], and what ended up happening is they never took my name off the list, and two years later I got an F430.
Cauley Ferrari has been very good, very honest. They haven’t asked me to put down a lot of money. They’re very up-front. Since they now know me, it’s easier.
The guy at Cauley asked if I wanted to be on the 599GTB wait list, and I said, sure. The 599 is absolutely spectacular, but it’s also a little pricey, and I’m sort of a mid-engine guy. More likely than not I won’t replace the F430 until its successor comes along.
TO HELL WITH IT
Manhattan Beach, California
I tried to buy a 360 Modena coupe. My friend in Texas had one, and he was friends with a dealer in Texas. I met the dealer at a wedding and talked to him a bit. I ordered the thing, but I didn’t hear anything back from him. I wanted to make one or two changes to the color, so I called him repeatedly and left messages, but he never called back. It was pretty irritating. I waited a year before I finally just gave up.
They [Ferrari] are kind of noted for making you buy a used car to get into the game. They are very arrogant. They think they’re doing you a favor by selling you a car. It’s just the opposite of what a manufacturer/customer relationship should be. That was my experience.
So I bought an instead. It’s much more exclusive than a Ferrari. You see the V8 Vantage driving around, but you never see a Vanquish.
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.