On a recent visit to my Ferrari dealer we got into the conversation of a few customers new to the dealership managing to get their hands on new cars and selling them a week later for a quick profit. This prompted me to cover this topic in a little further detail and why sometimes I hear people talking about the pompous nature of Ferrari dealers, the difficulty of ordering a new Ferrari if you aren't a celebrated customer, and having no chance of getting a limited edition car without a track record of buying cars from the esteemed marque.
I hear this not only in my own social circles but perhaps even more so online and in forums and now from my own dealer - so I thought I would address the topic of ordering a new Ferrari in terms of being 'allowed' to order the car you want. To the uninitiated I know this sounds ridiculous that a company would turn down your money, and there is much debate and many rumours surrounding the topic of ordering special edition or the latest Ferraris, but in my experience of owning a few and spending plenty of time with dealers, here is my take on it...
The simplified truth is - the more special (or new) the Ferrari, the harder it is to order one, and this is due to what I have found to be a few main reasons:
1) Existing well connected customers. If you are a very wealthy person who already has a track record of buying limited edition Ferraris and are likely to have an existing collection of these cars, it is often the case that you already have your name down on an option for every future Ferrari, cars that have yet to even be announced. When I say wealthy I mean a different stratosphere to even your average Ferrari customer - the type of customer where your name is just on the books, internally at Ferrari and with your dealer, and they even approach you to buy the car, not the other way around. So, with this in mind there is already a good chunk of limited edition or first build allocations accounted for - therefore reducing your chances of getting one.
2) True 'Ferraristas'. The next factor is existing 'good' customers with track records of buying Ferrari's and keeping them for an acceptable amount of time.
--- To clarify --- What I mean by "good customers" and "an acceptable amount of time" is - some people will manage to get their hands on an early car and then as soon as they get it they will sell or 'flip' the car the following day. Ferrari does not like these speculators looking for a quick buck on their cars because they could have otherwise been sold to a more appreciative customer, potentially with a better history of Ferrari ownership. And secondly, Ferrari of course also want the option of reselling the car themselves as an approved vehicle and so they want to keep the car in the dealer network.
Anyway, back to my original point... Passionate owners with a track record of owning a few Ferraris typically get prioritised or invited by their dealers or t he factory with the option to buy a car first. This is both a 'reward' for the customer for their brand loyalty and it also reduces the risk of the car 'flipping' i was talking about above, but of course it is also an easier sell for the dealer to pitch the latest greatest Ferrari to someone who almost certainly already wants one! So there is another load of cars pretty much already accounted for.
3) Brand Exclusivity. I'm sure Ferrari could make a lot more cars if they wanted to, but the limited production numbers and notoriously long waiting times adds fuel to the exclusivity fire. Ferrari produce around 7,000 cars a year split across all their models and thats just the way they like it, and secretly i think their customers do too! It adds to the exclusivity and therefore the desire to own one of their cars. Ferrari aren't the only brand who do this of course!
4) Supply & Demand. Ultimately the demand for Ferrari cars is a scary force and with the explosion of wealth in the Middle and far East, the pre-orders vs allocations of these cars is at a hilariously skewed ratio, and so even on non-limited edition cars the supply is just not there. Speaking from experience, my dealer had over 50 letters of intent plus further early deposits for the 488 GTB even before it was officially announced. Their allocation from the factory for this car turned out to be just 14 cars in the next 12 months. So you can see why the dealers can quite literally pick and choose their customers.
Of course I'm not saying it is impossible to walk in as a Ferrari virgin and put your name down on a limited edition or ultra new Ferrari - but it is a notoriously touchy subject. I am aware of dealers who have told new buyers to "start with the California" before they would consider them for any other cars. Now, while I advocate the no 'flipping' policy - this attitude of start at the bottom does come across as pompous. My belief is if the car is a mass production car you should be able to buy whatever the hell you want - but ultimately it comes down to the supply and demand situation from earlier.
But there are other options.
When I bought my first Ferrari it was a pre-owned car, a 2008 F430 Scuderia with only 4000 miles on the clock. Buying 'Approved Used' from an official Ferrari dealer has it's benefits.
Firstly (and obviously) there is no waiting. You get the car right here and now. Believe me, when you spec a brand new car and have to wait up to 12 months for it to be delivered - you spend a lot of time on YouTube watching videos of your car to help pass the time!
You also get your foot in the door. Buying a car that is available immediately in the showroom gets you on the list as a Ferrari owner. As simple as it sounds that's a step in the right direction for ordering a limited edition or the latest car in the future, it's all about building up a profile.
Often the limited edition 'special' Ferrari's are typically a bit more hardcore in their approach to driving. Take the 360 Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia and lately the 458 Speciale. Each one of these is a stripped out, visceral experience. Buying from the showroom allows you to experience living with either the more refined 'standard' cars or the stripped out racer first before committing to an order and waiting in excitement for 12 months only to find that actually you quite like the comfy seats and the radio on.
Anyway - pre-owned Ferrari ownership is a whole new discussion, So in short - if you come across as a fan of the brand, get involved in some of the dealer events and just generally get on well with a dealer you have a much better chance of getting that elusive exclusive!