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Here's Why You Shouldn't Buy the Cheapest Ferrari You Can Find

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author photo by Doug DeMuro February 2018

Last year, I told you about the cheapest Ferrari on Autotrader. It was a 1990 Ferrari 348ts, and it was listed for just $20,000, which was truly insane at the time; nice 348s are starting to reach into the upper-5-figure range, and even a really problematic car should've commanded at least $30,000. But while $20,000 seemed like a great deal, the car had some needs, including an expensive major belt service -- and, also, it had covered a whopping 94,300 miles, surely making it one of the highest-mileage 348 models in existence. I wrote the article, I chuckled at the idea of a $20,000 Ferrari, and I forgot about it.

Then I got an email a few weeks ago from the guy who bought it.

The guy's name is Vince, and he lives in Georgia, a few hours away from the car's location. Here's what Vince told me:

Hi Doug,

I purchased the Ferrari 348 (my first Ferrari) this past March that you wrote about in an article for Autotrader "The Cheapest Ferrari on Autotrader Costs $20,000."… [First,] I'd like to mention, I'm just a regular (not rich) car guy with a lifelong love of Ferrari.

So as short as I can make it:

I actually paid $24,000, not $20,000, to the seller because he had listed it on eBay -- the bidding was at $24,000, so I told him I'd give him $24,000 to stop the bidding (I used the old analogy on the seller "a bird in the hand..." and it worked). Anyway...

Currently the 348 is at Ferrari of Atlanta fixing a botched 30,000-mile service done by an independent repair shop where I live … I took it to the local shop (the mechanic was convincing on his Ferrari skills) just after purchasing. Bottom line, my $24,000 cheap Ferrari is now at $54,000. If all goes as planned I should have her back by mid-late January - all with a 2-year warranty on the repair(s) from Ferrari of Atlanta.My point: do your research. I paid the Indy shop $8,900 (they had it 26 weeks!) only to have Ferrari of Atlanta have to redo the service.

Amazingly, Vince seemed to take this in stride -- noting that even though he's already paid out over $30,000 to fix the 348 since he got it, "I'm still excited about the car and looking forward to actually getting to drive it, properly."

The funny thing is that Vince is probably still in good shape financially on the car: 348 prices have gone up considerably since last year -- and even with this car's mileage, it still looks pretty nice, as you can see in the images above, sent by Vince after his purchase. My guess is the car is now worth at least $54,000 in its current condition -- although it's worth noting, of course, that if Vince had taken the 348 to the Ferrari dealership (or a qualified independent mechanic) in the first place, he'd be even better off.

Still, there's a famous saying in the Ferrari community that the cheapest Ferrari is actually the most expensive Ferrari -- and I think we've learned here that that saying is, once again, completely accurate. In fact, Vince is lucky the car only needed a major service, a starter and tires, as it could've gotten even more expensive in a hurry.

Nonetheless, I wish Vince the best for his 348, and I sincerely appreciate him reaching out to tell us what happens when you buy the cheapest Ferrari on the internet. I also think if he maintains the car well and keeps it nice, he'll end up coming out ahead on the 348 in the long run -- a testament to the fact that people just love Ferraris. Even if they have 94,000 miles.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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Here's Why You Shouldn't Buy the Cheapest Ferrari You Can Find - Autotrader