For the price of a boring new car, why not buy a vintage Ferrari?
Did you know the average transaction price of a brand new car in the US is $33,652? Call it $35,000 with applicable taxes. Thatll get you a nicely-equipped Hyundai Genesis, Chevy Malibu or Nissan Maxima four-door sedan or even a stripper 3-Series BMW. But everybodys got one of those, and they wont turn heads or cause a stir when you roll up to the valet.
So think out of the box. Why not buy a used Ferrari for that same $35 grand?
Now were talking.
OK, you cant get a classic Ferrari V-12 berlinetta for even close to $35K, but there are vintage Ferrari two-seaters and 2+2s, with V-8s and V-12s, that you can snatch up for about as much as youd pay for a new car that starts depreciating the minute you shake the salesmans hand.
And its a Ferrari, so one of these bargains could even appreciate over time.
We combed the exotic car sites, and with the help of price guides from Hagertys and Cavallino magazines, we can help you find a much more exciting ride for your money.
The Ferraris we recommend, for the most part, are 2+2s, so theres actually room for a couple of passengers and/or enough luggage for a sexy weekend getaway.
Ferraris 1960-to-1963 250GTE 2+2 was the marques first real volume passenger model, but you cant get one of those today for buppkes, because they share nearly the same driveline as a multi-million dollar 250GTO. But in 1973, Ferrari replaced the racy, mid-engine 246GT Dino with a sharp little 2+2 that previewed the GTB-to-comes lusty 3-liter, 4-cam V-8. Then the magicians in Maranello, knowing that some clients wanted a front-engine GT car for everyday driving, introduced the 365GT 2+2.
And it gets even better. There really are affordable Ferraris right up to the 1990s. So follow along while we take a quick trip through the byzantine world of used Ferraris, complete with some of the challenges of owning a bargain Italian stallion.
Dino 308 GT4: 1974-1980
The Dino 308 GT4 bowed at the 1973 Paris Salon. Replacing the curvaceous Dino 246GT, this angular little coupe was designed by Carrozzeria Bertone, not Pininfarina. The original 246 Dinos 2.4-liter V-6 had been replaced with a 3-liter, 4-cam V-8 packing four Weber carburetors. It developed 205-bhp at a screaming 7700-rpm. It was really a 2+2 (with tiny rear seats), but that was never part of its official name, nor was there a Ferrari badge anywhere, at first. But by 1976, Ferrari owned up and all 308 GT4s sported prancing horse badges. The 308 GT4 is fun to drive; its 5-speed shifts crisply and when you nail it, you get all those wonderful Ferrari sounds. Those tiny back seats are best used for luggage, as theres no rear legroom. 308 GT4s are still under the radar pricewise. If you can find a USA-legal Euro-spec version, (and quite a few were imported) youll get 240-to-255-bhp.
208 GT4: 1975-1980
Heres a tip to get an even cheaper GT4. Ferrari made 840 208 GT4s with a smaller bore 2-liter, 153-bhp version of the 308s 3-liter V-8. This tamer, but visually nearly identical 2.0 version came about because Italian tax laws heavily taxed 3-liter cars. Since you couldnt use the 308s 155-mph top speed anyway, even on the autostrada let alone on Highway 101, Ferrari S.p.A. offered a milder 208 for the home market, and they are stone bargains especially because you can bore out the 4-cam V-8 to 3-liter specs and have all the goodies. 208 GT4s arent common, so check the Ferrari Market Letterclassifieds for one of these. And dont tell the Italian IRS!
365GT4 2+2: 1972-1976
Think you cant get a V-12 Ferrari for $35 grand? Think again. The 365 GT4 2+2 shares the sporty 1971-1972 365 GTC/4s six-carb 4.4-liter V-12 with six side-draft Webers, but a classic C/4 starts at $250K, and you can double that for a great one. So consider the 365 GT4 2+2 instead. Introduced in Paris in 1972, its 7.5-inches shorter than the 365 GT 2+2 Queen Mother, it replaced, but with a 2-inch longer wheelbase and more contemporary Pininfarina styling. This lovely coupe was the first of a series that includes the later 400GT and 400i, through 1984. With 320-bhp, knock-off alloys and fully independent suspension, theyre fast, elegant Grand Tourers. Borrani wire wheels were still an option. One caveat: theyre much quieter than their sportier brethren, but you can fix that fast with a Borla or Tubi stainless exhaust update.
400GT/400 Automatic/412: 1976-1989
When Ferrari updated the 365 GT4 to the 400 GT at the Paris Salon in 1976, buyers could opt for a 5-speed or (gasp!) a GM-supplied THM400 4-speed Hydra-Matic. It was a sign of the times. Well-heeled clienti wanted a Ferrari, but they didnt want to shift for themselves. Not surprisingly, automatics soon outsold the 5-speed sticks, so be prepared to pay a $5 grand premium if you want a rare manual. Displacement rose to 4.8-liters and output was an impressive 340-bhp. Bolt-on 5-star alloy wheels replaced the original models knock-offs. Borrani wires were no longer offered. Sadly, to meet US emission regs, the Bosch K-Jetronic, fuel injected 400i dropped to 306-311-bhp, then 315-bhp by the end of 1982. The 412s became lusty 5-liter cars with 340-bhp once again. They are even nicer-looking, thanks to body-colored bumpers, and a higher rear deck with a discrete spoiler. Forget the Ferrari dealers expensive service department: your local AAMCO can probably fix that GM-sourced tranny.
208 GTB/GTS: 1980-1982
Its nearly impossible to find an affordable 308 GTB, let alone a 308 GTS on our $35K budget, unless you encounter a rusty rat or a wreck. But the Italian market, Euro-spec 208 GTB, if you can find one that was legally imported, is worth considering. Like the 208 GT4s, 208s are rare in GTB/GTS guise. Ferrari built only 160 GTBs and 140 GTSs from 1980-to-1982, but a few came over, so hunt around. Like the 208GT4 2+2s their 121-cid V-8s developed just 153-bhp, so they look fast, but alas, theyre not!
208 Turbo (GTB and GTS): 1982-1985
But heres the solution: When the tax-relief special normally-aspirated 208s for Italy were deemed too slow, Ferrari offered a turbocharged version of the coupe and the spider, from 1982 (GTB) and 1983 (GTS) until 1985. The turbos output is 217-bhp @ 7000 rpm; thats a healthy 64-bhp more than the 2-liter, normally-aspirated model.
Again, these are thin on the ground over here, but you may be able to find one.
Mondial 8, QV, 3.2, t: 1980-1993
Ferrari built 3,571 Mondial 8s in several variations, because there were clients who wanted a more spacious, marginally less sporty 2+2 coupe or convertible with a Ferrari prancing horse badge. The wheelbase was 4-inches longer than the 308 GT4s, so theres really room for two passengers. Among enthusiasts, the Mondial is kind of the Rodney Dangerfield of Ferraris, but most civilians havent a clue. They simply see a handsome red coupe or convertible with a Ferrari badge and theyre impressed. Just remember, it costs just as much to repair the transversely-mounted, 4-cam V-8 in a Mondial 8 as it does in a 328 Berlinetta. Mondial 8s, built from 81-to-82, and the QV (Quatrovalvole) coupes and true convertibles, offered from 83-to-85 , are well within our budget. Mondial 3.2s (with 260-bhp) and later Mondial ts in average shape make the $35K cut, but the better examples can go for as much as $10-to-$15K more. You have to do your do-diligence, and be sure to inspect all existing service records. A belt replacement on one of these puppies will seriously blow the budget.
Tips on buying and servicing a used Ferrari:
OK, so youre ready to find the affordable Ferrari of your dreams. Ferraris arent generally listed in local newspaper classifieds or pennysavers, but you will find lots of Ferrari ads in Hemmings Motor News, theFerrari Market Letter, and the top British car mags like Octane, Classic & SportscarandClassic Cars, and at the broad appeal auctions like Auctions America, Mecum, and Russo & Steele.
No matter how tempting the price, (unless youre a skilled mechanic, with a stash of metric tools), if the owner/dealer doesnt have the cars service history, (or at least the last few years worth), simply move on. Assuming the service records check out, be sure to see what next major service is needed and make that price part of your negotiations. Ferraris were subject to rust, so a careful inspection of all the body panels, the chassis, etc., is mandatory. Inspect for any evidence of accident repairs. Ensure everythingworks, right down to the windshield wipers and back-up lights. Check the exhaust system for leaks. Nothing on a Ferrari, no matter how trivial, is cheap to do.
Heres the dirty little secret: Ferrari was very cavalier about service. They figured if owners could afford the car, they could afford to have it maintained. On many models, you have to remove the engine for belt and timing chain service. Spare parts arent cheap. Neither are tires. Michelin TRXs on later cars may not be made much longer. Many Ferraris were carefully garaged and maintained, but some of the less expensive examples may have been abused or suffered flood or accident damage. If theres a CarFax report available, by all means get it. All the customary used car buying rules apply here. Drive the car for at least 20 minutes. Watch the water temperature, Check for unusual noises or vibrations. Try not to fall in love until youre sure its a worthy example. If youre importing a car, be sure you know the requisite DOT/EPA rules (there are too many to detail here).
So why are we encouraging you?
Ferraris are fun, exciting, exhilarating. Chicks dig em, at least until theyre trying to decide if youre a responsible person. Owning a Ferrari taps into 70 years of wonderful prancing horse history, on the track and on the road. Unless your Ferraris in the shop, youll smile every time you see it. So go for itbut be careful and purchase wisely. Life is not a dress rehearsal. We dont get to do this twice.
Bargain Ferraris by the numbers.
Years made Model name Number Produced Price Range
1972-1976 365 GT4 2+2 521 $30K-$90K
1974-1980 308 GT4 2+2 2826 $30K-$35K
1975-1980 208 GT4 2+2 840 $30K-$33K
1976-1979 400 GT Automatic 502 $30K-$60K
1979-1984 400i Automatic 1308 $35K-$60K
1980-1982 Mondial 8 703 $25K-$30K
1980-1982 208 GTB 160 $25K-$30K
1980-1982 208 GTS 140 $30K-$35K
1982-1985 208 (GTB) Turbo 437 $23K-$35K
1983-1985 208 (GTS) Turbo 250 $25K-$35K
1982-1985 Mondial Coupe QV 1145 $25K-$40K
1983-1985 Mondial Cabriolet QV 629 $27K-$45K
1985-1989 Mondial 3.2 Coupe 987 $30K-$40K
1985-1989 Mondial 3.2 Cabriolet 810 $35K-$42K
1985-1989 412 576 $45K-$90K
1989-1993 Modial t Coupe 858 $35K-$55K
1989-1993 Modial t Cabriolet 1017 $38K-$55K
(Source: Cavallino Magazine, October 2016 [Keith Bluemel/Cavallino])