Not so fast
Buying a bona fide supercar can be a true test of patience, says Toby Hagon
Anticipation is defined as “a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen in the near future” by the Cambridge Dictionary. It certainly sums up some of the emotions in the lead-up to taking ownership of a glistening new supercar, even if the “near future” bit may not always hold true.
Whereas you may buy a Mazda or Toyota and drive out of the dealership on the same day, buying a Ferrari or a Lamborghini could mean settling in for a long, long wait.
To take delivery of the Ferrari 812 Superfast – expected to be the last of the classic naturally-aspirated V12 Ferraris – you would have needed to place your deposit about the time it was revealed at the Geneva motor show, back in 2017. “The 812 is well and truly sold out, ” says Ferrari Australasia CEO Herbert Appleroth.
“That has been the most successful [Ferrari] V12 in Australia and New Zealand’s history, it’s quite phenomenal. ” Appleroth says waiting lists are part of the magic of joining the Ferrari family. “We just don’t turn up the factory production numbers to suit the demand, ” he says. Marketing expert and the CEO of White Space Concepts, Denis Mamo, says queuing to own an exclusive car was akin to lining up for a well-hyped nightclub or restaurant. “If that person is in that queue, there must be something worth waiting for, ” he says.
“The anticipation is there. ”Having people prepared to wait for a car – sometimes for years – is a strong ploy. “It’s very clever brand marketing to go ‘We’re going to limit the supply and if you want it you have to queue up for it’, because that just builds the story and the mystique further, ” Mamo says. In fact, for some customers, long wait times may be a welcome way of making the most of that anticipatory tingle.
“If you’re spending that much money you want to stretch the whole experience out as much as you can, ” says Mamo, referencing a friend who’s joined the queue to head into space as part of entrepreneur Richard Branson’s bold Virgin Galactic customer journeys beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Ferrari isn’t the only brand where lengthy queues can form – the new Lamborghini Urus, the first modern SUV from the sports car maker, has a waiting list stretching out to 2020. As a crucial conquest model and one that is introducing new buyers to the brand, it adds to the sense that the Urus is even more special than its low-slung supercar brethren.
Even mainstream brands can inspire queues to purchase popular models. When Ford Australia decided to import the Mustang, it severely underestimated how many V8 lovers would splash out upwards of $60K for one of America’s most famous muscle cars. And the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ – a pair of affordable performance coupes spun off the same platform − had would-be owners waiting more than 12 months when the cars first arrived in 2012.
However, when the wait stretches longer than a year, such as for the most affordable model of Ferrari’s ultra-focused sports car stable, the Portofino, it can require educating new customers who may be coming from more mainstream brands, such as Porsche or Mercedes-AMG. “They come from traditional luxury car manufacturers where you can get one off the showroom floor − it’s not the same with Ferrari, ” says Appleroth, explaining that rather than a weekend machine, the Portofino is a car that many Ferrari owners would want to drive daily.
“They need a car, ” he says, explaining the key issue with such long wait times. “This is an everyday Ferrari GT … this is to do the school run, this is to go to the shops. ”Waiting lists can also unearth opportunists looking to make a quick buck. If a wealthy would-be owner is prepared to join a years-long queue to pay half a million dollars for a car, then they’re probably willing to pay even more to have it tomorrow. Appleroth says Ferrari takes a dim view of such activity.
“We design and produce cars for ‘Ferraristi’; we want to sell to people who want to enjoy our cars, not for people to make a business out of, ” he says. “We enjoy people making astute investment decisions, but not to make money immediately. ”Quick sales are noted and Appleroth hints some customers could be taken off future lists. “We pride ourselves on ensuring that our limited number of cars go into the right hands. ”