Market and auctions

Ferrari: temptations within reach

The many opportunities from the world of the Prancing Horse, some for under $50,000
Cliff Goodall's view

Photo credit: Bonhams, Aguttes, Historics

Milan, November 2016. I am having lunch with a friend and he says to me “See, you can no longer buy anything [from Ferrari] for less than €150,000…; a few days ago, I was offered a 512 BB carburettor for €395,000”. I try to convince him that the prices will drop, and that it’s better to keep his money in his pockets but it’s really hard for me as just a few metres from where I’m standing the craziest auction that Europe has ever known is underway. It goes by the name of “Duemila Ruote” and was recently witness to one of the most insane upward runs to say the least. Three and a half years have passed but it feels more like a century, the euphoria has given way to reason and the prices have gone down.

Instead of weeping because the market has gone down, true enthusiasts are rubbing their hands: there are cars you once dreamed of that are now within your budget. Today you can buy Ferraris for under €100,000. Indeed, for under 50. Don’t believe me? Then I’ll show you.

I started by looking for all the Ferraris sold under €100,000 since the beginning of the year and do you know how many there have been? As many as 50 (by way of comparison, 48 were sold above €250,000).

Let’s start with the cheapest Ferrari sold this year. It was a 1985 Ferrari Mondial Quattrovalvole. We all know that it is one of the least-desired Ferraris ever (how could it be the cheapest Ferrari if it weren’t?) And moreover this example was fitted with non-original, American-specific wheels. The deep blue wasn’t the usual red but in my opinion it was very agreeable especially with the ivory leather interior. It must be considered that of the 1,145 Mondial QVs built, only 69 were sold on the North American market and this was the only blue one. With belts changed in 2016 and just 10,000 miles driven in the past 20 years, it was more than ready for use. The gateway to the golden world of the prancing horse was just $22,400 (€19,856). Sold by Bonhams on Amelia Island.

1985 Ferrari Mondial QV Coupe sold for €19,856

The “social ladder” of Ferraris is as follows: first come the Ferrari V8s then Ferrari V12s and 2+2s and, finally, the pure two-seaters. If the Mondial was a V8 2+2, let’s take a step up the ladder and go for a Cavallino without children’s seats.

Ferrari is known for its sports thoroughbreds and even in this case models under €50,000 can be brought home. If a 328 escapes us by a whisker (an example went for $58,240/€51,625) we can “settle” for a 308. We can even ignore the slow injection “i” model and aim for a more powerful Quattrovalvole or even one with carburettors.

The best deal here may have been made by the person who took home the 308 GTS carburettor from Bonhams at Retromobile. Built for the American market, in 2018 it was imported to France where it underwent a slight facelift to lose all those peculiarities that characterize the stars and stripes version, including the odometer. So it was, for all intents and purposes, a European version and, considering the time spent in the USA, it had only covered 73,000km. Estimated €60-80,000 without reserve, it changed hands for €43,700.

1979 Ferrari 308 GTS sold for €43,700

And now we come to the V12… Of course we have to settle for a 2+2 if we want to stay within our €50,000 budget but we have a decent selection between a 456 GT and the 400/412 series. There are those prefer one over the other, but I would aim for a 400 just for personal preferences.

At Aguttes in Paris on 15th March, a 1978 400 Testa di Moro (the official denomination) with carburettors with automatic transmission went for €40,420 (within its estimate of €35-45,000). It might even turn out to have an interesting history because the first owner was Società Esercizio Fabbriche Automobili e Corse or more simply SEFAC, therefore a branch of Ferrari itself. Who used it? Could it really have been Scheckter as assumed? It matters little at this point; a magnificent V12 for wonderful family trips.

1978 Ferrari 400 Automatic sold for €40,420

And if we have over €50,000 to invest and we have convinced our grey-haired bank manager that “no, I don’t care about that equity fund, I have a better deal” we can move up the social ladder of the cavallino.

For a purely “technical” issue I have been forced to give up the path that would lead me to the 365 GT4 2+2 (estimate €70-80,000) and also two 308 GTB Fiberglass right hand drive models (estimate £80-90,000 and £85-95,000 respectively) only because our research is focused on cars “sold under €100,000” and these went unsold. But, as you can see, these cars have estimates under €100,000 and therefore, if you kept your eyes open, it was inevitable you’d stumble across some other examples.

The choice is still very wide: do you fancy a V8? You could have any 308 (including some Fiberglass models, as we have seen) or a 355. There was even a 360 Coupe with the very rare manual gearbox and just 13,000 miles on the clock for $92,400 (Gooding in Scottsdale). But perhaps the one I would have brought home was the Ferrari California, certainly not the first choice for a purist. From Historics on 7th March, two right hand drive models were sold for less than €100,000. As the amount was £76,720 or €88,367, I would have bet for the red example with beige interior, one owner and 10,000 miles from new but there was also the temptation to take home a red one with black interior, 43,000 miles from new for £56,500 (€65,078).

2010 Ferrari California sold for €65,078

We have now arrived at the top of the ladder: a V12 two seater, a real Ferrari that no purist could decry. Think that nothing could be found at our price point? Think again, there’s plenty to choose from!

The first that comes to mind is a 599 GTB Fiorano that was sold in Paris in February (€89,700) or the 575 Maranello with just 6,124 miles on the clock – less than 10,000 km – sold for €97,954 at Amelia Island, but also one of the 4 Testarossa models that exchanged hands in this period with prices starting at €67,814.

My choice, however, falls on a rare version of the last icon: the Ferrari 512 TR. Two have been sold below this threshold in 2020. I could have saved something by buying the example sold at Mecum in Glendale (Arizona) for $89,100 (€79,950), with American specifications and the wrong wheels, but since the other example also falls within our budget and does not have these defects I would head straight over to the example at Historics for £85,000 (€97,904), red and sold new in Italy.

Ah! You’re wondering whether I convinced my friend to keep his hands in his pockets during the auction? In the end, yes, I did. And he is still thanking me.

1994 Ferrari 512 TR sold for €97,904