Ferrari Pricing Heads For Orbit, Porsche Stays Grounded

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

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 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.

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  • GTAm GTAm on Oct 17, 2012

    Porsches has always been a little less exotic than Ferraris. Furthermore Ferrari's used to be a risky, fragile choice compared to Porsche which was the "sensible" sports car. However modern Ferraris are probably more reliable than Porsches. However with the launch of the 914,924/944/968 first then the Boxter, Cayenne and Finally the Panamera it is clear that they were willing to sacrifice exclusivity for bigger profits (pre-VW subsidiary) for survival. Therefore they cannot command price escalations to match Ferrari, unless for low volume Hyper Halo cars. Also Porsche has scaled down it motorsport activity compared with the 60's, 70's and 80's while Ferrari is in the forefront of F1 and GT series. This must add some value to the brand. That said Porsche is still a very profitable company although we'll have to wait for the future to see if the thinner spreading of the brand will devalue it further. As someone said Fiat have Maserati (and Alfa Romeo - the 4C is in Boxter/Cayman territory) to play with Porsche. BTW the 465GT's 4 -seat successors are the 612 and the FF not the F12 (as stated above) which is the successor of the 550 Maranello and the 599 Fiorano.

  • Vaujot Vaujot on Oct 17, 2012

    A few comments: - I think it is spelled "paleozioc", not palezoic (I know because I had to look up the word) - 24 mpg in a 993? You're lighter-footed than I thought. I get about 18 mpg but that includes quite a bit of Autobahn driving. - excellent resale value? Have you checked prices on used 456 GTs?

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.