Ferrari launched the F50 in 1995 as the successor to the legendary F40 that came before. It eschewed the twin-turbo V8 that powered the 288 GTO and F40 for a naturally aspirated V12, setting the stage for the Enzo and LaFerrari that followed in the series. That high-revving 4.7-liter engine, according to Ferrari, was derived from the unit used in the actual F1 car from 1989 (known as the F1-89, naturally). This engine served as a stressed member of the chassis, mounted behind a carbon-fiber tub. With its removable hardtop, the F50 remains the only model in Maranello's flagship series (excluding the Enzo-based Maserati MC12) that offered an open cockpit. It was all very F1-like, but was barely any faster (if at all) than its iconic predecessor.
Only 349 F50s were made, each carrying a half-million-dollar price tag. That would be a good $750k in today's money.
Still, it is part of a highly collectible series. Only 349 were made, each carrying a half-million-dollar price tag that seemed astronomic at the time in the mid-'90s. That'd be about $750k in today's money, but it's still a far cry from what they're trading at these days. Last year alone, RM Sotheby's sold two F50s at auction: one in May at Villa d'Este for just under $1.4 million, and another at Pebble Beach (as part of the Pinnacle Portfolio) for nearly $2m. This compared to just a few years ago when they were selling for six figures, not seven, prior to 2013.
At this early point in the year, two major auction houses have already announced consignments of F50s. RM has one (pictured above) on the docket that's estimated to sell for a good $1.5m. It's sure to be one of the top sellers in a couple of weeks at its sale in Paris during the Salon Retromobile (where Artcurial has another Ferrari for sale at over $30m). Gooding & Company has one lined up as part of the Tony Shooshani Collection. That example (depicted in the video below) was displayed at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show and was owned by Jacques Swaters (of Ecurie Francorchamps fame). It has only 1,100 miles on the odometer and is expected to fetch between $2.5m and $2.9m, which would set a new record for the model.
Gooding & Company has one lined up for auction that is expected to fetch between $2.5 and 2.9 million.
You might expect that the other models in the series, such as the 288 GTO and the F40, would be trading hands at much higher values. But they're not. The 288 GTO remains the most scarce of the Ferrari flagship supercars, with only 272 examples made. According to the records at Sports Car Market, four GTOs sold last year, each for over $2m, rising over the past few years in similar fashion to the F50's value. The F40, while arguably the most iconic, was also the most common, with over 1,300 made. 11 sold at auction last year, each for over $1m but less than $2m – save for one that was totaled and rebuilt in 1993 before Bonhams sold it in February for $825k, and the Pinnacle Portfolio's racing-spec F40 LM that RM also sold for $3.3m.
Of the four Enzos that were auctioned last year (and the 349 made), two sold for $1.4m, one for nearly $1.9m, and one (also part of the Pinnacle Portfolio) which had been gifted to Pope John Paul II and which sold for over $6m. In fact, only one Enzo on record to date has sold at auction for less than a million, but it came close at $920k in 2012. That's still a substantial premium over the $659k which Ferrari charged for each of the 349 examples it made between 2002 and 2004.
With those numbers being thrown around and that much cash trading hands, it's little wonder that the factory is charging $1.35m for each LaFerrari it builds – nearly double what it charged for the F50, even taking inflation into account. After all, if they're going to trade hands for seven figures anyway, why shouldn't the manufacturer get a bigger share of that margin? If its sales department is anywhere near as clever as its engineers are, it will channel some of that cash back into development of the next great supercar – and then charge even more for it.