Ferraris are expensive, Porsches (usually) less so. This is something that every kid on the street knows, right? Turns out that it is, as the song says, truer than true.
This week, Good Car Bad Car‘s market master Timothy Cain looks at Ferrari pricing and finds that the Italians have been raising the prices of their core vehicles at a pace well beyond the inflation rate.
The Ferrari F355 was priced at $121,495 in 1998. Who knows what Ferrari clients actually paid once they optioned their cars, but that’s the USD price as Cars.com quotes it. Expecting the price of the F355’s great-grandson to simply be $121,495 plus inflation proves to be silly. Inflation only takes the total up to $171,717. In fact, the 458 Italia costs $229,825, an 89.2% jump from the F355’s price; a 33.8% jump above inflation.
What about the competition, real and imagined?
Adjusted for inflation, the 1998 Mustang GT’s price would be $28,479 in 2012 dollars, just under the $29,710 Ford actually charges… Adjusted for inflation, the 1998 Mazda MX-5 Miata would cost $27,030 in 2012 dollars. The MY2012 MX-5 Miata only costs $23,470… The gorgeous old school 1998 911, with its comparatively anemic 282-horsepower engine and atrocious 14-mpg city fuel economy, would cost $90,102 in 2012. The current 911 Carrera is priced from $82,100.
I don’t know about that 14-mpg part; my 993 returns 24-26mpg in mixed use. And as every TTAC reader knows, I’m not sure the new Porsches have anything like the long-term desirability of the old ones. Ferrari, on the other hand… it’s easy to see how each new Ferrari from the 355 forward has been a major improvement on its predecessor, and such luminaries as Sports Car Market‘s Michael Sheehan have pronounced the 360 and 430 to be solid vehicles with lower servicing costs than their predecessors. The 458 may be even better.
Ferrari’s price strategy also respects what the market wants. As Mr. Cain points out in the article, the price of the four-seat F12berlinetta is actually lower than that of the 456GT, its Palezoic predecessor. There just isn’t much of a market any more for the patrician Ferrari, and while your humble author finds the 456 to be timeless and entirely tasteful, the real buyers of these cars want the most outrageous two-seater possible. Load the passenger seat with two Estonian prostitutes and ski the mountain of coke in your suite at Wynn! The American dream!
It’s also instructive to consider the fact that, although the 993 and F355 weren’t that far apart performance-wise in 1995, today’s base 991 Carrera and 458 Italia aren’t even in the same zip code. The 458 plays hardball with the GT3RS and the GT2. It’s a genuine monster of a car around a track or in a straight line. Add that to the brand’s resale value, which remains excellent, and it’s hard to see the current Ferrari lineup as anything but a bunch of fairly-priced automobiles of known quality.
The problem becomes this: although the pricing is justified, it does draw the velvet rope in front of most potential buyers for the cars. It doesn’t really matter; as Mr. Cain points out, the one-percenters are just getting wealthier every day and Ferrari sales rise as prices do. Those of us who want to join the Scuderia at a modest rate will have to follow the lead of fictional characters or the aggressively self-made, and buy used.