If you've followed along for the last year, you've probably realized that life with my 2004 Ferrari 360 Modena hasn't always been easy. It was hard to find the right car, and tough to get it insured. Driving it every day is impossible, and getting gas is just as difficult. And the car has a few quirks that make it a little more challenging to operate than a normal vehicle.
But nothing in my entire ownership experience has been as hard as selling it.
I listed my Ferrari for sale in early October on AutoTrader.com, which has continually proven to be the best place for selling my cars quickly and easily. Since then, I've fielded more than 20 calls and 30 e-mails — from scammers, car dealers, joking readers, interested parties, total assholes, and complete idiots. I've devoted an enormous amount of time to calling, texting, e-mailing, negotiating, describing, taking close-up photos, and driving back and forth from the dealer. And now, two months later, I've finally sold the car.
You'd already know that I sold the Ferrari if you followed me on Twitter, because I posted a downtrodden tweet this afternoon after the papers were signed. But you wouldn't know just how difficult it's been to get rid of this thing. So today, I'm going to devote a column to explaining exactly what you have to go through when you sell a Ferrari.
Number one: crazy people. There are a lot of crazy people in this world. There are even more crazy people interested in buying a used Ferrari.
Let's start with the trade offers. I received several of them – and while I admit that not all of these people were crazy, most clearly were. Oh, sure, the guy in Central Pennsylvania who offered an Acura NSX plus cash had the right idea. But then there was the guy in New Jersey who told me I should trade my Ferrari for his new Porsche Macan – "the little Porsche crossover that's impossible to get right now," he said. "You'd be lucky to have one." He had two.
Then there were the really crazy people. The businessman in Texas who swore he was ready to buy, ready to plunk down cash, ready to "do the deal." As it turned out, he just wanted to learn about 360 maintenance costs from someone who owned one. "Oh, the engine doesn't have to come out for the major service?" he said. "What else costs a lot with the 360?" After I sent him the Carfax, I never heard from him again.
Then there was the guy writing from the Austin F1 race, undoubtedly caught up in the action, and the sound, and the excitement of all the cool cars he was seeing. He sent a short e-mail asking five questions about the car's history – three of which were the same: "Has it been tracked?" I can only guess what he had on his mind. I replied to his e-mail and never heard from him again.
My personal favorite, however, was a buyer in Maryland who told me he was "very interested" in my car. We spoke on the phone for several minutes, and he was asking all the right questions – but then he dropped the bomb: his brother purchased a 2002 360 Modena earlier this year, and he didn't want to pay a penny more for mine. "I don't want to get ripped off," he said. I politely reminded him that mine is a 2004, not a 2002, but he seemed undeterred. I quickly got off the phone when he told me his brother's car is blue.
But crazy people are easy, because you usually talk to them once and never again. My biggest frustration throughout this process was actually an entirely different group: legitimately interested buyers who were complete assholes.
This time around, one in particular stood out above the rest: a Midwestern attorney named Rod, who believed that every single thing was a retail-value deduction from the car's asking price. For example: he wanted an aftermarket – and highly desirable – "Challenge grille" installed in the car once he bought it, which costs around $2,000. So he would say – in this gruff, angry voice undoubtedly perfected by years of yelling at witnesses, clients, retail workers, puppies, etc. – "Well, that's two grand off." He did the same thing for the exhaust, and the seats. The guy wanted a six grand discount before we ever discussed the condition of the car.
The problem was, Rod had a legitimate interest in the car – and with winter drawing closer, he was one of only a few actual buyers I could find. So I was forced to deal with him repeatedly: I sent him service records, and detailed photos, and the Carfax report, and each time he came back with some new issue and asked for more money off.
And this leads me to a slight tangent, but it's a point worth making: most Ferrari buyers are insanely particular. And I don't mean they're slightly particular, like they want to make sure the thing doesn't have any scratches or curb rash. I mean they think about things that you and I wouldn't even notice.
As an example, consider my last column about the Ferrari: I wrote about how I got a screw in the tire and I spent more than $120 at the dealer to patch it, because a service record from a "third-party" tire store would be detrimental to the car's value. Well, dozens of readers latched on to this and responded with angry comments like: "YOU'RE AN IDIOT! Why do you even have to SHOW HIM the record?! Just throw it away and move on!" Unfortunately, they're missing a crucial point: most retail mechanics now report their work to Carfax – and if my Carfax report included a service record from "Jim's Tire Center," several of my interested buyers would've walked away instantly. I'm not kidding.
To help prove my point, here's a real-life example using Rod, our asshole Midwestern attorney friend who seemed to think he should get $50 off for every single time a fly landed on the car. Rod noticed a minor discrepancy on the Carfax report: at some point in 2007, the car passed emissions with 4,759 miles and was then listed for sale a few months later with 4,400 miles. This was obviously a clerical error, and the selling dealer soon updated the odometer reading to an accurate 5,118 miles. Nonetheless, Carfax called this a "mileage inconsistency." And Rod's reaction to this minor talking point? He demanded another $1,000 off. And before you dismiss Rod as a crazy nutjob with no concept of reality (all true), you should know that he was one of four different potential buyers who raised it as a concern.
Eventually, a few more interested buyers came into the picture: a doctor in Texas, a reader in Chicago, an attorney in Virginia, and the guy who eventually bought the car. It became clear that they all wanted a pre-purchase inspection before signing the papers. So I called the dealer to schedule the inspection, and I learned yet another challenging aspect of the Ferrari sales process: dealing with the dealer.
The inspection, said the dealer, would be $380 with tax. That's fine, I thought: we knew it would be expensive, but it'll provide important peace of mind for the car's next owner. But here's the kicker: they don't just charge the $380 once. They inspect the car for two hours, doing no actual work to it, and replacing no parts. And then they charge every single interested party $380 just to get a copy of the inspection report. In other words: from my five interested buyers, they could make as much as $2,000 for two hours' work.
Knowing this was ridiculous, I paid for the inspection myself, leaving me in the awkward position of requesting payment from my potential buyers for an inspection they hadn't seen. I had visions of asking Rod for a hundred bucks, just to cover part of it, and getting yelled at. "A HUNDRED BUCKS??? THAT'S WHAT IT'LL COST ME JUST TO CLEAN YOUR GERMS OFF THE SEAT!" In the end, I just ate the cost.
The other issue: I called the dealer in early November, thinking that a simple two-hour inspection could be scheduled in the next day or two. Not so: as it turned out, their next available appointment was sixteen days in the future. By the time it finally rolled around, two of my interested buyers were already gone.
Fortunately, my inspection experience ended up being a good one. For one thing, I posted several brilliant Tweets from the dealer, where I was walking around drooling over the cars. But most importantly, the inspection report was strong – a few minor issues, but nothing tremendously challenging or frightening. No major leaks, no damage, no previously unknown malfunctions, and more than 50 percent clutch remaining – even after 10 years and 22,000 miles of use. Down to just three interested buyers, I thanked the dealer, took the report, and went straight to the buyer who was most pleasant. We quickly agreed on a price – and as of today, the car is his.
Although this brings my time with the Ferrari to a close, I still plan on doing two more columns: one to sum up my thoughts on the ownership experience, and another to document exactly how much it cost to own a used Ferrari for a year. You can expect them both next week. And then we have a new car to choose.
As for Rod: once it became clear I wouldn't be selling the car to him, he sent me a 500-word e-mail tantrum written in YouTube commenter format (defined as: a big block of text littered with exclamation points) about how horrible I am, and how much my car is really worth. I feel sorry for Rod, and I truly hope he ends up getting the car he wants. That, and a swift kick in the face.
(QUICK PERSONAL NOTE! This is my 100th column since I was officially hired by Jalopnik back in February. Since it marks the end of the road with my Ferrari, I think it's a fitting milestone. Thank you to everyone for the support, the kind words, the e-mails, the positive comments, and – especially to the many readers I've met over the last year – thank you for a great time. I sincerely look forward to the next 100 columns and beyond!)
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.