Hello and welcome to the latest round of Letters to Doug, your favorite weekly Jalopnik column that involves both a) letters, and b) Doug.
If you’d like to send your own letter to Doug, you can! Just e-mail me at Letters2Doug@gmail.com, or send me a message on my Facebook page. Both are equally exciting ways to get in touch with Doug, even though the chance of your letter being featured on Jalopnik is about the same as the chance of your guinea pig getting struck by lightning.
Today’s letter is special, because it comes to us from Greece. I am completely serious. What I am not serious about is the name of the letter writer, which I have changed to Socrates. I did this because Socrates is a very famous Greek person whose face is carved into a lot of stones. Anyway, the letter:
Since you’ve owned a mid-engined v8 ferrari, you’ve worked at a Ferrari dealership and you’ve once written an article about the 612, it’s safe to say you are an expert on front engined 4 seater v12 Ferraris and therefore the best qualified person in the world to answer the following question.
“Why 4 seat Ferraris depreciate so badly?”
Yes, they are not the prettiest nor the fastest but they are the best equipped (the 612 for example came with luxuries like heated seats and cruise control, things never fitted to a Ferrari before) and they are the easiest to live with because of their conventional layout so why every 4 seat Ferrari since the 60's is at lest half the price of an equivalent 2 seater.
Ps1 Big fan from Greece.
First, I’ll explain the question for those of you who aren’t up on your used Ferrari knowledge. Here is the situation: when four-seat Ferrari models are new, they’re tremendously expensive. Ridiculously expensive. As expensive as “Should I buy a four-bedroom house in West Des Moines with a garage big enough for three Zambonis, or a four-seater Ferrari?”
Four-seater Ferraris are so expensive that they are in a completely different realm compared to a normal, mid-engine, two-seater Ferrari like the F430 or 458. You think those are expensive? Pah! Those are chump change. For example: in 2009, the base price of an F430 was about $190,000 with destination. The base price of the four-seater 612 Scaglietti? That would be $315,000… before options.
But despite this huge price premium when new, the thing everyone knows about four-seat Ferrari models is that they depreciate like stones. Actually, they depreciate worse than stones. They depreciate like a stone with a lead weight tied around its ankles because it talked to the feds.
I’ll give you another example. The average price of a 2005 F430 on Autotrader is $127,000. The average price of a 2005 612 on Autotrader is… $116,000. In other words: despite the fact that the 612 was $120,000 more expensive than the F430 when it was new, a 10-year-old model is actually now cheaper than the F430 to buy used. What happened to that $120 grand? It’s gone. POOF! Into thin air. This is almost mythical depreciation, on the level of used bedsheets.
So why does it happen? Well, Socrates, it’s all about the people who buy either vehicle.
Here’s what I mean: someone who buys a 612 is just insanely, wildly wealthy, and he doesn’t really want a mid-engine, go-fast, eye-catching Ferrari like the F430. The problem is, this person buys new goods. There are a few people willing to purchase a new 612 for $320,000, but there’s basically nobody out there standing in line to get a “slightly used” one for $280,000. And thus begins the depressing spiral of depreciation.
Meanwhile, people who buy F430s want them regardless of newness or age. They like the style, they like the low-slung, sleek, exotic look, and they like the idea of getting noticed in their hip Ferrari. The 612 offers none of these things.
In other words: once these things hit the used market, the demographic changes. The old, stodgy, wealthy guy who has a 612 finds it hard to sell his 612 to another old, stodgy, wealthy guy, because those people don’t tend to want someone else’s things. Meanwhile, the young used F430 buyer has no interest in a 612. Why spend more to get noticed less, they think? Then they put an exhaust on their F430 and cruise slowly by restaurants with outdoor patios.
And thus, the 612 falls and falls, just like the 456 before it, and the FF after it, for one simple reason: the used market for people who want a “subtle Ferrari” just isn’t as strong as the used market for people who want to show off.
But here’s the crazy thing, Socrates: the F430 people are missing out. I say this because I’ve spent a lot of time in a 612, and it was one of the most amazing cars I’ve ever had the chance to drive. Assuming, of course, that your definition of “driving experience” doesn’t involve “people staring at you.”