Here’s Why A Used Ferrari Is a Smarter Buy Than a New Porsche 911


Despite all the comments about fire risk and Italian craftsmanship, I still think it's a better idea to buy a used Ferrari than a new Porsche. Here's why.



Before I bought my car, I turned to you for feedback. You probably remember this, because you gave me feedback. Yes, you. All of you. Even if you're visiting this site for the first time from some faraway place that just got Internet, such as Idaho, and your automotive expertise is limited to logging vehicles, I probably heard from you. ("Buy a logging vehicle," you probably said. "Great for logging.")

I know I heard from you because I got 1,600 replies to my Jalopnik column, hundreds of tweets, dozens of e-mails, and numerous text messages, none of which suggested the Ferrari 360. Then I bought a Ferrari 360.

Of course, I was prepared for all those suggestions, largely because I had asked for them. What I wasn't prepared for was what came after suggestions. I'll call them the "Could'ves."

For those of you who have never experienced this phenomenon, allow me to explain the actions of a Could've. What happens is, you purchase a car. It doesn't have to be a Ferrari. It could be any car. It could be a Ford Taurus. It could be an Infiniti J30. (Remember that? With the bizarre melted shape? That they thought would be stylish? And only old people bought it?)

Anyway: you purchase a car. And then you tell your friends about the car. And inevitably, one of them, scorned by the fact that you didn't take his suggestion, lists all the cars you could've bought, the implication being that you messed up, and his choices would've been far superior.

Now, I admit, I'm all for a nice game of "Would you rather?" You know this if you follow me on Twitter, where I am constantly posting pictures of my Ferrari next to other cool cars with the caption "Would you rather?", and you are constantly telling me to move my Ferrari immediately or else it'll catch the other car on fire.

But the Could've thing is a little more annoying, because it suggests I've made a terrible blunder, while simultaneously noting that person speaking to me wouldn't have made such a silly mistake. So I've decided to devote today's column to addressing the Could've that I've heard most often: you could've bought a new Porsche 911. My response is: no, I couldn't. Because it's too expensive.

Before I explain myself, some numbers. A base-level 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera has 350 horsepower to the Ferrari's 400 horses, while the 911's torque number is 287 lb-ft to the Ferrari's 275. Zero-to-60 is about 4.4 seconds with the Ferrari, compared to 4.5 seconds in the Porsche. And a no-options 911 Carrera starts around $85,000 with destination, which is roughly what I paid for the Ferrari. So they're pretty similar on paper.

Only, the Porsche is way more expensive.

The reason for this is, of course, the famous foe of anyone who has ever purchased a new car: depreciation. But rather than just say "the 911 loses more value," I'm going to provide you with a few numbers that are surprisingly sobering.

The first number is the actual new price of a Porsche 911. While the car's starting figure is around $85,000, no one orders a "stripper" Porsche 911 — and that makes the average asking price for a new 2014 model closer to $100,000. To be fair, we'll call it $98,000.

The next number is the value of a one-year-old Porsche 911. A quick check on AutoTrader reveals that the average asking price for a 2013 model is somewhere in the $83,000 to $86,000 range. That means owning a 911 for a year costs between $12,000 and $15,000 in depreciation alone.

Moving on to 2012 models, prices drop to somewhere in the mid-$70,000 range. Of course, you can see where I'm going with this: a 2011 model, which is the old "997" bodystyle, brings the average asking price down to the mid-$60,000 range. In other words: you'll spend around $35,000 just to own a 911 for three years.

Now, let's pretend you instead bought my Ferrari. The average price of a 2004 model is somewhere around $90,000. Change the year to 2003, and you'll see almost no difference in price. A 2002 model is in the mid- to high-$80,000 range, while a well-optioned 2001 coupe is still around $83,000. In other words: over the same time period where you've lost $35,000 in depreciation to a new 911, you would lose $7,000 with a used Ferrari.

Of course, I already know what you're thinking, and that is: WHAT ABOUT MAINTENANCE? Actually, based on some of the comments on my last column, you might be thinking something more like: I'M FROM IDAHO, YOU ASSHOLE, AND I'LL DRIVE A LOG THROUGH YOUR SKULL.

In that case, I must respond: calm down. Take a step back. Breathe. Compose yourself. Relax. This is the Internet, and that means you couldn't drive a log through my skull even if you wanted to, so neener neener neener!

But of course, maintenance is a severe concern. After all: we're talking about a used vehicle put together by the Italians. These are the same people who rolled over that cruise ship like a stunt driver in a James Bond movie. The same people who sent scientists to jail for not predicting an earthquake. The same people who keep trying that girl for murder, no matter how many times she tells Katie Couric she didn't do it.

And maintenance is what Porsche people always bring up when they insist I Could've bought a 911. "Sure, the Porsche will lose more value," they say. "But at least it won't blow up!" And then they chuckle a few times, while simultaneously wondering whether they'll ever be able to take delivery of their 991 GT3.

And yet… the Ferrari's maintenance isn't so bad.

If you go on the 360 forums – and I don't, because they probably hate me ever since I strapped a TV to the roof of mine – you'll find that most owners say they spend an average of $1,000 to $3,000 every year on maintenance. Every four or five years, you have to do a belt service that costs about $4,000. And that's it.

In other words: if you own the 360 for three years, and your ownership period falls between major services, you're probably not looking at more than $3,000 to $6,000 in maintenance. And some of that figure includes wear items like tires and brakes – items you'd also have to pay for in the Porsche. Add that to depreciation, and you're looking at $10,000 to $13,000 to own a Ferrari for three years – or roughly a third of what it would cost to drive the Porsche. Compared to the Porsche, that's a lot of money left over for fire extinguishers.

Now, I'll grant you that the Ferrari is more likely than the Porsche to suffer a serious problem. It's more likely to strand you, an accident will have a larger effect on its value, and it's more likely to give you cause for concern when you park it at Target. But to me, that's all part of the charm of Ferrari ownership. And if you don't like it, you can always get a second car. May I suggest a Nissan Cube?

@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.