Creating a successful movie sequel, producing a follow-up album or becoming a repeat champion in sports can be the challenge of a lifetime. Think about being asked to improve on the Ferrari F40. For the F50, named as Ferrari’s 50th birthday present to itself, Ferrari elected to start with a clean-sheet design and lean on Scuderia Ferrari, its Formula One team, for the magic to make its supercar super.
The Ferrari F50 is rightfully recognized as a rare and technically advanced supercar. It benefits from Grand Prix-level engineering to create, as Ferrari puts it, “The extreme machine of the nineties.”
One of just 55 U.S-specification models, this Ferrari F50 benefits from a continuous chain of ownership along with generous and regular maintenance. It has had a recent annual service and comes with a Massini report, Ferrari Classiche certification, luggage, and hard top in its original F50-branded flight case. This F50 is surely one of the best to become available in recent years.
|Vehicle:||1995 Ferrari F50|
|Chassis Number Location:||On data plate in door jamb|
|Engine Number Location:||Stamped on the right rear side of the block|
|Club Info:||Ferrari Club of America|
|Alternatives:||2011 Aston Martin One-77, 1994–95 Bugatti EB110 SS, 1984–85 Ferrari 288 GTO|
This car, Lot 33, sold for $5,175,000, including buyer’s premium, at Broad Arrow Auctions’ Monterey, CA, sale on August 18, 2022.
A super(car) week
This was a banner year for supercars at the Monterey auctions. A king-of-the-hill McLaren F1 graced the hotel lobby at the RM Sotheby’s auction, where, surprisingly, many people walked right by the cool and seldom-seen Jaguar XJR-15. A Bugatti EB110 SS drew an admiring crowd at Gooding & Company’s sale. Looking for a Porsche 918? Yep, there was one on offer. The Lexus LFA Nürburgring edition might be a bit of a lightweight supercar, but it got plenty of attention from the younger crowd. I didn’t see a Bugatti Chiron at the auctions, but there was one in the public parking garage. It was topped with a Thule rooftop cargo carrier, perhaps to carry a supermodel girlfriend’s weekend wardrobe.
Then there were the Ferrari supercars, which were everywhere. A 288 GTO, a pair of F40s, three F50s, plus at least three more F50s seen around town. Gooding & Company had a Grigio Silverstone Enzo that was so beautiful it stopped you in your tracks. Broad Arrow Auctions filled out the field with a nearly new LaFerrari.
Broad Arrow is the new kid on the auction block. Its Monterey Jet Center Auction may have been its inaugural sale, but it was business as usual for the staff, comprised mostly of former RM Sotheby’s employees. This Ferrari F50 was one of its top sellers and one of the top Ferrari supercar sales of the weekend.
Formula One for the road
The Ferrari F50 followed the Ferrari 288 GTO and F40 in the brand’s supercar lineage. It was built in a scant 349-car run, with just 55 for the U.S. market. The U.S. cars were all early examples, purposely timed to beat an impending upgrade of federal regulations.
Ferrari leaned heavily on its sizable Formula One knowledge to give the F50 a “race car for the road” look and driving experience. The F50’s chassis is a carbon-fiber tub. The suspension is a pushrod setup front and rear with electronically controlled dampers, all patterned after Ferrari’s 1990 641 Formula One car. The V12 engine is mounted directly to the chassis with solid (not rubber) mounts. A 6-speed manual transmission is attached to the rear of the engine. Braking is accomplished by 14-inch front and 13.2-inch rear steel rotors with appropriate four-piston calipers.
The F50’s engine is based on Ferrari’s 1992 F92A Formula One car. The racing engine’s displacement is bumped from 3.5 to 4.7 liters to add torque for street use. Also, the F50’s block is cast in steel rather than alloy to provide the strength the solid-mounted engine needs for road use. In race trim, the engine is rated at 735 horsepower at a screaming 14,800 rpm. In the roadgoing F50, power was still impressive for its time: 520 hp at 8,500 rpm. The F50 will hit 62 mph from a standstill in 3.7 seconds, on the way to its 202-mph top speed.
Outer beauty, inner expense
The F50’s bodywork is as impressive as its mechanicals. The Pininfarina-designed composite body is seriously aerodynamic without resorting to unnatural appendages. The F50’s body may not have the “wow” factor of the F40 or the complexity of the Enzo, but it is handsome and has aged well. The no-frills interior is purposeful, with roll-up windows, no radio, and cloth seat inserts.
The Alcantara dash and bulkhead trim does not age well and has been replaced on many cars. Similarly, the electronic-gauge display is prone to failure, requiring an expensive repair. Ferrari used competition-style fuel bladders rather than metal tanks in the F50. The bladders have a recommended 10-year life and replacing them is a $10k-plus project. This is often done in conjunction with a comprehensive service, which can result in an eye-watering $50k service bill.
Buoyed market, record price
F50s have always been expensive, but Broad Arrow’s sale confirmed a new level. Artcurial’s nearly $4.6 million sale of an F50 in March broke the $4m ceiling (SCM# 6951985). That car was reported to be a 1,300-km (800-mile) specimen. Broad Arrow’s example was approaching 5,000 miles and appeared just a notch under perfect condition.
Bidding on the car was brisk. It opened at over $2m and rapidly went over $4m. A gentleman next to me was the underbidder at a number that put him at over $5m with commission. The spectators were cheering him on, but he let someone else be the hero.
Across town at Gooding & Company, an F50 known as the ex-Mike Tyson car sold for $4,625,000. While its legacy is tied to Iron Mike, the 6,200-mile example was actually owned by something like 10 different people and spent limited time with the champ. A third F50 was being privately shown by a U.K. dealer the same weekend. His was a European version with Classiche certification and under 10,000 miles. It was on offer for $4.8m, suggesting the market really is in the high-$4m range. Yet another F50 sold on Bring a Trailer over the same weekend. It was a 31,000-km Euro version that went for $3.3m. It sounded like a nice car, but it wasn’t a trophy example. F50 buyers usually want the best and are willing to pay the premium.
Broad Arrow’s F50 result was a windfall for the seller. While I don’t know for sure, I would speculate they bought it before the current run-up, for half of what it sold for here. The buyer got a top example but also paid the absolute top dollar for it. I suspect they wanted a great car and the price wasn’t an issue.
Buying into an escalating market, however, is risky. This car will have to appreciate an awful lot to make it a good investment. I’d call this one for the seller. ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of Broad Arrow Auctions.)