Classic Ferrari buying advice



When you start your search for the Ferrari that you have always promised yourself it is best to follow a series of logical steps and not get to carried away.  Just because you can afford to buy the car it does not make the car a good purchase.


The right advice and the right model


Our concerns start when a customer says they want a Ferrari (which is good thing) but it must be a very specific colour and specification.  This can lead to a feeling of desperation and urgency that may lead to buying the wrong car as a knee jerk reaction.  Try to keep your options as wide open as possible. As a general rule we recommend buying the lowest mileage, best condition car with the best service history that you can afford.  This does not always work as there are some high mileage cars that are in great condition and have been serviced correctly that have never had an accident, however the higher the mileage the more cars you will need to look at before finding the right one!


Type of use is a key part of making a classic car work for you.  There are models of Ferrari that have a heavy clutch pedal, there are different models that, due to the sitting position, make your right buttock go to sleep after travelling around 80 miles. - which is not very practical if you are touring around Europe! Some convertable models are more water proof than others. Generally classic Ferrari's are second / third cars which are used at weekends and fine days with the odd exception.  I have read countless buying guides over the years which have talked about engine sound and nostalgia but not whether you can actually fit in it.  Also ask yourself if you have the knowledge not to flood the carburettors, are you able to keep an eye on the gauges while driving? and can you store it correctly with a power sorce for a battery conditioner so it always starts when you want it to. You need to talk to people who actually live with these cars.


Make sure you can afford to run and maintain the car correctly, find out about servicing costs and the type of problems the particular model is prone to.  A clear understanding of what works you can do yourself and what works may require a specialist will help you budget correctly.  Tyres on Ferraris with especially with low miles can be very old - get them checked!


Choosing a car


One of the first stages when looking at a car is to establish who owns the vehicle that is for sale.  WalkerSport prefer to purchase a car outright, we service and prepare the car for sale then set the price and market the car.  The customer can then see clearly what has been done, the quality level it has been done to and have no hidden surprises after signing on the dotted line.


One of the most popular methods of selling prestige cars at the moment is through a Brokerage sale or Saleor Return (SOR).  This system can leave the dealer in a difficult position as the owner tends to set the return value figure and the preparation costs can exceed the desired budget. The biggest problem that WalkerSport have seen with SOR is that some dealers try to avoid the Sale of Goods Act by selling the SOR car as a private sale, this is not the case if you purchase from a dealer with the dealer’s name on the invoice the Sale of Goods act still applies (more info below).


Then you need to find out what the dealer is doing to earn their money.  Finding a good car is difficult and the dealer will generally incur costs along the way.  WalkerSport purchase less than 1 in 3 of the cars they physically inspect for outright purchase. As with most cars, putting the next service that is needed on the car as part of the sale will only just touch the tip of the iceberg as to the works probably due in addition from general wear and tear.  A clear inspection report should be available showing disc brake thickness, pad thickness, oil leaks and advisory works, etc.  Please remember that if a dealer has made you aware of a fault prior to purchase then you cannot go back after the sale is completed and expect compensation or rectification.


Expectation is the hardest part of selling a Ferrari.  I cannot portray the amount of hours we spend preparing a car for sale.  We take pictures of our restorations and refurbishments, we document the works that are carried out, sort the history folders into individual wallets and place the pages into a logical order.  Despite this, people will still go and buy a car for the same price with no preparation or proper test from an Auction where they have no comeback or protection. Obviously a 35 year old 308 is not going to be new, but they can be both lovely and awful.  A 355 can be over 20 years old and the state of the art mechanicals in 1994 are getting old and sometimes worn out.  It is also worth remembering that the 360, which still looks very modern, was launched in 1999. A realistic expectation is essential - however that is not excuse for a poor car.


The paperwork


HPI and car check services are brilliant, they will confirm the number of owners and also if there is finance remaining.  The last point is important because if there is finance outstanding then the finance company own the car, not the person trying to sell it.  Entitlement will only change when the finance balance has been settled by the buyer. HPI will also confirm if the car is Catagory rated ie stolen recovered or accident damaged.  However HPI will not be able to tell you if the car has had a minor accident that has been repaired or if it has had a big accident but no claim was made on the insurance.  A professional inspection will hopefully find evidence of this for you, however you must ask the inspector prior to inspection and ask if they do both mechanical and cosmetic appraisal.  Also ask if they use specialist diagnostic reports (SD2/SD3) for more modern Ferraris.  See our inspection page for further details.


Cars from Europe are usually serviced on mileage and not every 12 months like in the UK.  For example a 10,000 km car in Europe will have had a first service at 1,500 kms, a belt change at 3 years and the next service at 10,000 kms - even if its 6 years old.  In the UK it is expected to have at least 5 services in the same period.




Please be careful here, a deposit is generally a non-refundable commitment to buy - which should be stated as such on the paperwork.  The biggest and most common problem is that deposits are being left prior to the car being inspected.  This then puts the buyer in a position of disadvantage as the dealer already has the deposit money and will be less willing to negotiate on the works discovered by the inspection. A reputable dealer will hold the car for you as you have invested in the cost of an inspection.  The dealer should then hold the car for a short period of time after, while you consider the findings of the inspection.  Only if the dealer has another purchaser ready to buy will you need to commit or drop out of the purchase process.




Warranties are not a legal requirement.  I cannot believe the amount of internet forum posts arguing this point.  Legally a warranty is a dealer added perk, it is not required by law or part of the sale of goods act.  It also does not excuse the dealer from the sales of goods act by supplying one. A warranty is a commercial product sold to give reassurance to a prospective buyer, some people have good experiences and others find a reluctance and avoidance to the claims experience.  Claims with cars over ten years old become very limited so have a good read of the booklet of what is and what is not covered before committing and do your research as to the weaker points of the car to see if they are covered. A guide to the The Sale of Goods act can be found here





We tell most people that they will need to see at least 6 cars before they get an idea of what they are looking at. The right cars come after seeing the bad, obused and poorly maintained ones.  Remember, there is no such thing as a cheap Ferrari. Yes most things can be refurbished but a car that has been allowed to dip will not come back to the level of a car that has been loved all of its life (within reason). If you miss one - there will be another and remember its best to get the right one first time!


Happy hunting.


Classic Ferrari buying advice Classic Ferrari buying advice