Data Dive

Where have all the "project" Ferraris gone?

by John Wiley
21 June 2021 2 min read

Fans of Ferraris have come to expect perfection. It’s well known at this point that Ferraris with “needs” (or even “questions” or “stories”) tend to get dinged at auction. Our colleagues in the UK noticed something further: You can’t even find a Ferrari with needs.

Just how uncommon is it to find a Ferrari for sale that is less than sparkly clean? Since 2018, we have conditioned over 600 Ferraris at auction using our condition rating system. One-third of the cars fall into the condition 3 or “good” category. One step up is the condition 2 or “excellent” category, and above that is condition 1 or “concours”, and 66 percent of Ferraris at auction are in those two categories. Only one percent fall into the condition 4 or “poor” category. For comparison, 60 percent of Aston Martins were rated condition 1 or 2, 36 percent rated condition 3, and 4 percent rated condition 4. You’re almost four times likely to find a project Aston Martin as you are a project Ferrari at auction.

Looking at mileage, among Ferrari’s consigned to online auctions, of the 458 that have odometer readings listed, the average mileage (with kilometers converted to miles), is 28,989. Not exactly in the wrapper, but when accounting for the age of each vehicle, it works out to 1,231 miles per year. For the 2,648 Porsches in the same group, the average miles per year is 2,919. For Corvettes, it is 1,260 miles per year.

The irony is that the penalty for less-than-perfect Ferraris isn't as steep as we've come to think—at least, for certain eras. Tracking Hagerty Price Guide values for Ferraris built under Enzo’s unencumbered rule (pre-1974), we see a difference in appreciation of just one percent from condition 1 to condition 4. (Note: We said appreciation, not price.) For Fiat era cars (model years 1974-1993), the average difference is just three percent. Only the cars built during the reign of Luca Cordero di Montezemolo (model years 1994–2016), skew heavily toward concours cars. Condition 1 examples have appreciated 11 percent in the past three years on average, while condition 4 cars have appreciated just one percent. Perhaps the notion of a "project car" with modern F1 technology is unpalatable for collectors?

Your mileage may vary

Given the scarcity of driver-condition Ferraris at auction, you might expect owners to be afraid of putting miles on them. Our insurance data reveal a different story. Looking at quotes on insurance policies for Ferraris in 2020 where owners have estimated their annual miles driven, Enzo-era Ferraris had an average of 576 miles per year, while Fiat-era cars average 1,293 miles per year, and Montezemolo cars average 1,814 miles per year. The difference underlines that the auction market is not fully representative of the overall market. Ferrari owners appear to be just interested their cars as cars, not furniture.

While the chance of finding a project Ferrari at auction these days is slight, they are still out there. Owners are still driving their cars, but perhaps with higher values and better information about maintaining them, fewer are being left to neglect. Instead, they might be hiding away and may require some digging to find one. Just ask our editor.

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