Waiting for Mr Ferrari ...
As hopefully an encouragement to someone else who aspires to one day own their own Ferrari, I humbly recount my own journey down the Rosso Corsa Brick Road.
I wanted a 2+2 fun car, for taking the kids places in, going away with my wife and having a good blast when I felt like it. I couldn't afford anything really "exotic" which ruled out buying new. Plus I didn't want to lose a bomb in depreciation, so decided something 10-15 years old could be about right.
Have I always wanted to own a Ferrari? No. In fact one year ago I was still looking for a Lotus, in particular a late-model Excel. It soon became obvious though that 4-seater Lotuses of any model in good condition were very hard to find in Australia, so I sadly gave up.
I don't know exactly why I thought of Ferrari (of course they're way out of my price range, I knew), but I recalled a new 308GT4 Dino I'd seen while a student and wondered how much they were worth. Well to my surprise, the answer was "not that much!". I started getting interested! Porsches were never my thing, Lambos, etc were too rare to fix cheaply, but a GT4 could be just the ticket. That was in August 2003.
Well I spoke to someone in the local Ferrari club who had one (I emailed the website - it turned out to be the webmaster himself!) & got good info about how much to pay & what to look out for. After a few weeks I hunted one up & took the family to see it - an essential test was whether 5 - 12 y.o. kids really COULD sit in the back.
Well it was a disappointment I must admit. The car was in poor shape, had sat in the dealer's for at least 6 months and sounded like a drum full of gravel being shaken. :o
Even worse, the room in the rear seat was just too compromised to use by even a 9 y.o. I couldn't inflict that upon the family I knew.
I then stumbled upon a great book about Ferrari V8s (Original Ferrari V8s - A Restorer's Guide by Keith Bluemel) which showed me all the "common" V8 models from the GT4 to the 348. I read it cover to cover.
If a GT4 was too small, the only other choice was a Mondial. I knew that they were considered a rather sad, pseudo-Ferrari, even a hairdresser's Ferrari if you like, and they looked a bit frumpy and fat, but it was that or nothing.
For similar money to a GT4 (about $40K in Land of Oz dollars) I saw a Mondial 8 advertised and we all went out again. Taking kids out to see Ferraris makes it a lot of fun, I gotta admit! Well the car looked good and had lots of records kept but the miles were high (110,000 km) and even though it drive nicely it just didn't seem to have much real punch. I wanted something a bit more special in the go-dept. Plus those black bumpers just made it so 70's. :ugh: That was about October.
So I stumbled across Ferrari Forum and started putting questions and went back to the local Ferrari club contact and pushed for more info. "Go for a 3.2" was a repeated refrain. Looking in the book I thought they DID look much better (like a 328 from front-on), were lighter and had much more HP. That meant that the budget had to grow. Oh well.
Now the hunt was on in earnest - we now knew the car we wanted and both the F-club and trade-valuers said $70K would get us one. November.
I checked the F-club adverts & saw a 1-owner one for $80K+ in a back-issue. I rang but it had been sold in May to a dealer for $60K after no real interest. Damn. Sounded just right.
Checking the local websites I saw there were 3 up for sale. I thought this is going to be easy! One was a cabrio for $85K (OK, but I wanted a coupe), another late 88 coupe for $82K and one interstate (Melbourne) for $65K with only 45000km. I rang the $65 and asked lots of questions. Turned out it was a recent import from Hong Kong be a wedding-car company who now didn't want it. I called the Ferrari club and was advised that no good cars come out of Hong Kong, and that a privately imported car is worth maybe $10K less.
I then called the $82K car. I nearly fell over - it turned out to be the same car that had been advertised in the Ferrari club mag and sold 5 months prior! It was about 800kms away in a little town, and the owner bought in on a whim and then regretted it. The great thing was that I knew exactly how much he had paid for it & told him it was overpriced, and then got a good friend in the area to check it out. In the meantime I put a cheap price to the Hong Kong car after discussing it with a local Ferrari mechanic who had just done an inspection on it - that was for another bidder and the mech kindly told me how much he had bid ($55K)!!!
We haggled from 82K down to 70K, and at the same time the Melbourne car owner called to accept my offer of $57K. I had 2 cars!!
My preference was for the 70K car, so I politely pulled out of the Melbourne deal. And then the 70K owner changed his mind and said he wanted to keep it! I then suddenly had none!!
I was pretty cut up about it - the car I wanted was located on the far North Coast near Byron Bay (very beautiful) and I had planned to fly with my wife there & do the drive back the coast to Sydney for our anniversary. Ugh! That was December.
No more cars for a few months. In the meantime the 70K car was readvertised for $92K - so much for wanting to keep it. I worked on him but no good.
Then a good one popped up - a late 87 model with reasonable mileage for $70K. It was first advertised on a Sunday and I called & went Monday after work & saw it in the dark. Looked good but I needed to see it better & get it inspected. Turned out that another buyer (2 brothers) had called on Sunday and they turned up while I was leaving.
They put down a non-refundable deposit the very next morning - apparently against the strong protests of one wife! The price was $66.5K. Then the owner called me a week later & said the brothers were messing him around - did I still want it? OK, I offered him a bit more but still wanted it looked at - he wasn't keen so I left it. That was February.
Then the drought struck. Nothing for months except some overpriced 3.4 T models at $130K or so. They sat there for yonks. I considered a Wanted ad but knew that it would make me look desperate & make it difficult to get a reasonable deal.
In June suddenly there were 2. A late '87 coupe for $82K and a late 88 coupe for $92K. One look at the '87 ad & I knew I'd seen that car before - it was the 2 brothers selling after only 4 months. No kidding! I checked it out but didn't let on what I knew. They had done a few things but wanted 82 for a car they had paid 66.5 for + spent 7.
I offered them 73K final = what they had spent. No deal. The problem was that they disn't REALLY want to sell - it was one of the wives pushing them. I called 5 times and even worked on the wife but I could see it was going nowhere.
I turned to the 92K car. It was the newest car I'd come across but also had the highest mileage (90,000). It had also had a respray & retrim. The owner hadn't done his homework & I told him it was only worth $75K. He didn't hit me but I could see he was disappointed. He didn't have to sell it he said but I knew he had his eye on a 360 Modena. We spoke a couple of times but no way was I going to go that high. Stalemate.
And then 2 weeks later along came an ad from the local Ferrari dealer - 87 model with high miles for $60K.
Turned out it was a 1.5 owner model (first owner for only 1800km and then the wife of a prestige car dealer for 12 years). I was there the next day and could tell straight away it looked a good deal. The mileage (93000km) was right up there but I plannned to do a lot myself anyway I figured. If I started with a 60000 or 90000 car and added another 50000 I didn't see much difference at the end. Plus I wanted a car I could have fun with the kids with, and a low-mileage "pristine" example wasn't the way to go. Anyway, this car had good original paint & trim, so I put down a (refundable) deposit & got it inspected. As expected it needed some work (cambelts, seals, tyres, etc). Even so it was good buying. The dealership was just great to deal with, especially after all the other guys - let's get it inspected first & then negotiate with the owner on the final price once we all knew its faults (it was on consignment to them from interstate).
So the final deal was done - $53.5K with the owner finding (!!) and supplying new rear tyres (Michelin TRX ugh! which are now almost impossible to find here and cost $1K per pair!). A good price for a lady-owned car only driven on Sundays (so the salesman said!). Geez she must have had long day trips!!!
And so the Rosso Brick Road finally led to the Ruby City. We have our 3.2 Mondial and the kids are stoked. We got out of it for less than expected even after we do all the work required, and we're ready to have fun. I reckon when we sell it in 5 years or so we'll still be smiling.
There are probably some lessons here I think :
1. Don't buy the first car you see, but see everything you can even if way out of your price range.
2. Do lots of homework. I humbly reckon I knew more about almost every car I saw than their owners, which is a good advantage.
3. Do be patient - the right car for you IS out there.
Good luck to all (& thanks to FF for keeping me going). 8)
Wow, great story. Congratulations on the purchase.
I'll have to make sure that my dad goes through similar steps in his search for a car in the comming couple of years.
4kids3fish, Great story and highly recommended reading for all first time buyers (and repeat buyers as well).
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