Ever since I was a little kid, I have often asked myself what Supercar should I buy? The answer used to be very simple, as any red Ferrari ticking the urge box. However for me, over the years the answer to that has changed so many times.
When I look back at it, me flip-flopping at whim between one car and the other is far from the reason. There have been many factors which have influenced my decisions. I’ll come to that later, but first, let’s look at what you need to think about when buying a Supercar.
What Supercar should I buy?
1. New or old?
For a lot of people, it can only be the latest and greatest. Marque history doesn’t become a major factor, so the used market is a distraction. We call these people Rich!
In reality, cars today are better designed than they were 10 years ago. They are faster, more reliable, better built, safer, and better looking than the cars of yesteryear. So apart from price what is not to like? You probably think of course it makes more sense to buy a new one.
However, there are plenty of older models which are more expensive than any new car. Buy a Ferrari 250 GTO for example and tell me if you get change for $50m!
So I guess it really comes down to what sort of experience you are looking for. Do you want a get in and go type model or something that has been a boyhood dream?
Or are you buying used because that’s what your budget allows? In this case I salute you because you are a true enthusiast. I’m always more impressed with someone who buys a supercar and realises a financial choice, rather than someone who can buy it without thinking about it. Is the passion the same? Another question for another day!
2. What are you going to use it for?
Historically this was never a question, as supercars could not be used as an everyday car. That has now changed, and you can have a Ferrari GTC4 Lusso for the day, and a Lamborghini Aventador for the weekends. You might also like an Aston Martin Rapide for the evenings too.
The flexibility of supercars is almost limitless now, and you can be sure to find one to suit your needs. If you want a practical supercar that doesn’t shatter your teeth due to hard suspension setups, there are plenty of choices.
However, most people want something special, something raw, something that will take a corner better than David Beckham ever could. If you are looking for the best performance then new cars far outshine the older cars.
3. What do you want the brand say about you?
Image is so much nowadays, and impressions are made on first sight. Why does someone buy a Bentley or Rolls Royce over a Mercedes S Class? The S Class is a great car, but it doesn’t leave the impression that the Rolls will.
Similarly in the supercar world, different brands say so much about the owner. Ferrari owners are traditionally seen as flash and rich, and the general public doesn’t always view with admiration. I remember seeing a Ferrari F355 Spider some years back parked outside a Hardware store. The car was parked with the roof down, and there on the engine cover was a cracked egg. The public can be bastards sometimes!
If the Ferrari owners have a flash reputation, Lamborghini owners have that dialled from four up to ten! Often referred to as Playboys they have that reputation which probably I would say is justified! The difference here with the haters though is that they are too busy gawping at the model, and forget to do the hating bit. The Lamborghini owners quite often will not give a f**k, and are quite used to the attention the car gives them. Especially from women!
The anomaly brand here is Aston Martin, whose owners are actually treated with respect by the general public. Now I don’t know if its because the car is British, James Bond drives one, or because they are things of beauty, but when you drive an Aston something strange happens.
Drive any other supercar and when you indicate, no one gives you way. Do that in an Aston Martin and its almost as impressive as Moses parting the Red Sea! People actually give way, and when you get out they will smile at you. Its almost like they admire you and want to be you.
Choosing the Brand is essential to decide what experience you want to have.
4. What’s your budget?
For some, the issue of budget doesn’t factor in, but for others its a real consideration. Supercars are not cheap, and once you own one the cost of keeping one on the road can be high. A simple service can start at a thousand dollars, and the more exotic stuff will require the engine to be dropped on a fairly regular basis.
They say buy the best car you can within your budget, but I guess the real message is don’t bite off more than you can chew. The whole aim of supercar ownership is to enjoy the experience. If you can’t afford to drive it because you fear the maintenance bills, owning one probably isn’t for you.
Your budget will define the models you can look at. Less than $50k and you will probably struggle to find a car that doesn’t have one issue or another. I’m not saying don’t buy it, you will probably still love it if you do, but expect less reliability. This bracket usually appeals to tinkerers too, so you should be handy with a spanner.
$50k – $100k opens up interesting modern classics like the Ferrari 360 or a lovely Aston Martin DB11. Budget up to $200k and you can pick up a great Enzo engined Ferrari 599 GTB or pretty much any modern Aston Martin or McLaren. $300k plus and you will be seated in pretty much any new supercar, although you will need a lot more for any hypercar.
5. What’s your long term plans?
Over the years some supercars have made pretty decent investments, and any supercar enthusiast will be able to tell you a story of a car that they nearly bought before the prices shot up. I have a few of those stories myself!
This is a real consideration as it could mean the difference between serious appreciation or depreciation! Some modern classics are known to be in the appreciating bucket, like the Ferrari 599 GTB, which for a car that has the engine from the mighty Enzo is extremely cheap. No other car offers the same value for money in today’s market and is only kept low due to the used prices of the F12 Berlinetta or 812 Superfast. But 5 years from now the 599 will probably appreciate and owners who held on will probably be smiling.
If your plans are much more short term then you need to think about what will someone else want? Are the spec and options list right? Does the car have a transferrable warranty? All of these things matter when you want to make a speedy exit sale, otherwise you could be left waiting for the right buyer for the car.
But beyond all that what sort of drive do you want? Do you want to have the best short term experience? In that case, it sounds like something new and expensive may be fast approaching.
6. Buy with your heart or your brain?
I’m not sure about you, but when it comes to cars my heart always wins. I’ll go into the buying process with a plan and a budget, but during my searching process, I will find something that’s about 10% over budget and more importantly my wife doesn’t like. A few days later it’s on my drive and I’m buying my wife flowers!
Somehow I manage to justify it to myself and it all seems good until the first bill comes.
But for others, it’s all about the heart. I call this the F40 Phenomenon. The Ferrari F40 was launched in 1987 and was the hypercar of its day. By modern standards, it’s not quick, and Ferrari California will out-accelerate it.
The F40 is an expensive car to maintain, with strange service items like the fuel tanks needing to be changed periodically. They are not even rare with well over 1,000 examples being made. For years the prices of F40s fell to $100k-200k as the more modern stuff was preferred. In theory, they should be mid valued in the Ferrari price range.
But more recently the prices started to rise, as a group of heart led buyers started to emerge. You see the kids of 1987 are now 40+ years old, and whilst they used to dream of the F40 as kids, today they can afford to buy one.
Is a single Ferrari F40 better than a Ferrari 458, F12, FF and California combined? It depends if you use your heart or your head.
So, why did my choice keep changing?
I mentioned at the start that the supercar I lusted over constantly changed. So what is that kept me changing my mind?
1. The offering has improved significantly.
When I was a kid there was actually very little choice when it came to supercars. Ferrari was leading but built cars that had reliability issues. Lamborghini was struggling to keep afloat, and the new owners of Aston Martin were also struggling to find a new buyer to pass it on to. This was a sector that was actually shrinking and looked to have the final nail in the coffin through the fuel crisis.
Fast forward to today and its a very different story. Ferrari line up has expanded, and they are all brilliant. Lamborghini has had much-needed capital injected by VW Audi, and they are selling more cars than they ever have. Aston Martin now sells more cars in a week now than they used to sell in a year before, and they have probably the most diverse range of cars for any marque. Finally, McLaren simply did not make road cars back then. It’s a different world.
And then there was the birth of the hypercar with new brands like Pagani and Koenigsegg. The trend was started by Ferrari with owners desires to have a race car for the road, But since the days of the Ferrari F50, this has been taken to a very different level. Bugatti, of course, has pushed every boundary to a different extreme, and today we have a road car capable of over 300mph. Yup, a leather-lined road car with AC and comforts!
2. Today there is more competition out there.
As mentioned above there are new players in the market. When Mclaren decided to diversify from F1 to road car people didn’t know what to expect. In theory, they have the racing pedigree similar to Ferrari, and although they will always fall behind, they have forced Ferrari to push their own boundaries.
Bugatti is another brand resurrected from the dead. Although they have recently celebrated their 110th anniversary, the reality is for most of that time they were a dormant company. Today they are the leading hypercar company with multiple model offerings.
3. Each manufacturer has diversified.
It wasn’t long ago that the Lamborghini model offering was pretty much the Countach. Although the car looked outrageous it was no match for the Ferrari Testarossa. Today they produce multiple models (with different versions of each), including the everyday usable Urus SUV.
Ferrari, of course, has one the biggest selection with V8s, V12s, 2wd, 4wd, 2 seaters, and 4 seaters! Rumour has it that they will also launch an SUV too, and although that has previously been ruled out, even Ferrari know that there is money to be made.
4. Exclusivity has become important.
Back in the day manufacturers would sell as many cars as they could. The problem was that this was a niche sector and so the numbers were small. Old cars did not have the appeal that they do now, and cars including the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO were parked up and unloved.
Looking at these older cars now and what was once low volume due to low demand, today translates to exclusivity and premium. So for me, the low volume supercar models became more and more appealing. Not only is it different from what others might have, but it will also tend to have better resale value when I come to sell. To top it off, exclusivity makes an interesting conversation point when talking cars to people!
5. My requirements have changed.
When I was a spotty 17-year-old the only thing that mattered to me was the looks. 2 seats were perfect, as I only needed space for my best friend. It had to be flash and preferably red.
I too was one of those F40 dreamers and remember visiting a Ferrari showroom in London on a school trip. I got talking to the salesman who picked up on my enthusiasm and knowledge. He let me into a secret that they were taking delivery of one of the first F40s later that day, and I was welcome to stay to watch the delivery! Sadly I had to decline as I had to rejoin the school group. One of life’s regrets!
My aim was to buy a Ferrari by 25, and on the run up to my birthday I nearly bought one cash. I pulled out at the last minute and decided to go sensible, buying a used BMW M5 and putting the rest into a property instead. Fast forward a few years and I was married, with one child and another on the way. If I was to buy a Ferrari it would have to be practical, so my 2+2 Ferrari Mondial T was purchased. I’m proud to say my daughter’s first trip from the hospital to the house was in that car.
Today my requirements are different, and my need for a 2+2 is not as essential. I still wouldn’t buy a convertible, but that’s just me.
6. My wallet is not as big as my eyes!
If I’ve learnt one thing over the years it’s that boy maths is way worse than man maths. As a teen in my mind, if I earnt £25k a year, I could put £24k into a car. Technically in 2 years, I could afford a Ferrari. Of course, the reality is quite different as I have now learnt!
Over the years I realised that actually my budget is much more limited, and kids are more expensive than an engine-out service in an F355! Still, I’ve been fortunate to own 5 Ferraris over the years with my limited budget that I have had available.
But I think the key thing I have realised is that I have had to compromise. My budget was drastically reduced, and the models I looked at were matched accordingly. Despite all this, I would say that my experiences have not been compromised. Owning any Supercar in any price bracket is a privilege and a worthwhile experience.
So what would I buy today?
Any car enthusiast will tell you that they are always looking for the next car. I’m sure you are doing it yourself! At the time of writing this, I have recently moved to Saudi Arabia. The driving here is crazy and everyone drives huge 4x4s. When I say huge I mean Toyota Landcruiser Amazon, Nissan Armada, or the mighty Chevy Suburban. These are very normal cars here.
There is an old saying of if you can’t beat them, join them. For everyday use there was only one option to buy an SUV. I managed to hunt down and find the only manual Porsche Cayenne GTS in the country.
But as a true car enthusiast, the next car hunt is already underway. Unless a bargain comes up (always possible) it’s very likely to be a Ferrari. Sadly buying something new is out of the question as other expenses will come in the way. That damn lesson I learnt through my man maths lessons.
Availability of cars in Saudi Arabia is a constant problem too, as many cars were exported over the years. From time to time cars in collections will come to market, but they are usually overpriced.
I would definitely want something that I can rely upon too, as the aftermarket service sector here is not as mature as it is in the West. This probably rules out anything before the Ferrari 360, as the electrics and reliability were significantly better after that.
A Ferrari 599 GTB is a great proposition. It still looks very modern and has aged well, and the engine is one of the greatest ever produced churning out 620CV of power. The car can perform well against anything current, accelerating to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds, before maxing out at 205mph.
I really don’t think I need to go any faster than that!
Let me know in the comments section below what Supercars are on your bucket list. Who knows we may be able to find you one!