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Why Are New Sports Cars Instantly Becoming So Valuable?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2016

Hello, Internet people, and welcome to Ask Doug, your favorite automotive write-in column, wherein you ask Doug some car-related question, and Doug provides a thorough, well-researched response without even a hint of sarcasm -- a response that wasn't at all written while Doug sat on the couch in his underwear and watched "Dr. Phil."

If you'd like to participate in Ask Doug, you can! Just email me at OversteerDoug@gmail.com or send me a message on my Facebook page. I can't promise that I'll respond to your letter on the Internet, but I can promise that I will respond in my head, usually in a way that uses the word "nincompoop."

Anyway, today's letter comes to us from a reader I've named George. George writes:

Hiya Dougie,

Why have car manufacturers made the cool cars limited-production models that require you being one of the cool kids to get one?

If I've never owned a Porsche but wanted to try one out with a 911 R, why did Porsche make that impossible? Or if I want a Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 or GT350R, why do I have to be a dealer's favorite nephew to even have a chance? (And let's not even get into the Ford GT beauty contest.)

What gives? Are we buying cars or Picassos here?

George

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, what George is referring to here is the fact that some cars are incredibly difficult to get these days. Even more ridiculous is the fact that if you can get these cars, you can often turn around and sell them for $20,000, $50,000 or even millions more than you paid. This is the case with the Ferrari LaFerrari -- which, by the way, is the kind of name a child would give a Ferrari if they saw one on the playground, sort of like when they nickname their classmates things like Dougy McDoug.

So the question is: Why does this happen? Why are some cars impossible to get? Why are some cars immediately more valuable than their sticker price right out of the gate?

There are two reasons. One: The economy is good, and rich people have money to buy these things. It's that simple.

When the 997-generation Porsche 911 GT3 came out 10 years ago, it generated some buzz and some fanfare, but nothing like this. You could actually get one at that time, and if you couldn't, used ones were selling at or below the sticker price. When the original Ford GT came out, it depreciated quickly. Same with the Porsche Carrera GT. Now, speculators are desperately gobbling up modern versions of these cars, and their values are shooting through the roof. So why are these people buying these cars?

The reason: Because they can.

If you check used listings for high-end Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini models, you'll find an enormous amount of these things with huge markups and less than 1,000 miles on the odometer. This is because ultra-rich people are getting a build slot to buy them, enjoying them for a few weeks and then moving on to the next toy very quickly -- meanwhile, build slots remain hard to come by, and these wealthy folks can make even more money off of their latest, short-lived ride. This is a tactic people have often used with low-production exotics such as Ferraris, but now it's spreading to other manufacturers.

And this brings us to the second reason why this is happening so often: Because the manufacturers are making it happen.

A few years ago, the 911 lineup consisted of the 911 Carrera, the Carrera S, the GT3 and the Turbo. That was basically it. Then, in about 2010, Porsche realized that any special-edition 911 they released would instantly cause an enormous stir, sell out overnight and become an immediate collectible, virtually regardless of what it was. They could release the 911 Wild Turkey Special Edition, which comes with a giant turkey tail and feathers instead of a rear wing, and it would sell out in 10 seconds with huge speculation in the used market.

So they're milking it. The 911 GT3 became the GT3RS, then the GT3RS 4.0. The GT2 became the GT2RS. The Turbo turned into the Turbo S, and then the Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder. There was the 911 R, the 911 Speedster and the 911 GTS. And it doesn't stop with the 911: Think Cayman GTS, Cayman GT4, Cayman R. We could go for days -- and that's without touching Ford (Shelby GT350, Shelby GT350R), Ferrari (458 Italia, 458 Spider, 458 Speciale, 458 Speciale A) or any of the other automakers playing this game.

Of course, George, all good things will come to an end. At some point, perhaps deep in the future, the economy will sour, and the speculation will die down. But until that happens, you'd better work harder to become your dealer's favorite nephew.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Here's Why the Porsche Carrera GT Is the Greatest Car Ever Made
Autotrader Find: 81,000-Mile Maybach for Only $58,000
Here's Where I'm Meeting Everyone Next Week on My Cross-Country Road Trip

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Why Are New Sports Cars Instantly Becoming So Valuable? - Autotrader