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How to buy a supercar: Autocar's expert guide 2

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And circumstances do change to the extent that someone who has a supercar on finance may no longer be able to insure it. Last year, CAP HPI Crush Watch, the service that enables the police to reunite uninsured cars with the finance companies that own them, saved two Aventadors, two Huracáns, four Ferrari 458s and one McLaren 12C from the police crusher. 

Despite all the risks, new players are still entering the supercar market. One of the latest is Renaissance Classics in Ripley, Surrey. It specialises in Ferraris and Porsches, and began trading in May. It’s early days – so far, the company has sold 20 cars – but founder Keith Sohl has big ambitions. 

“We’ve almost finished building a row of air-conditioned garages at the rear of the main building from where we’ll sell the most expensive supercars on behalf of customers,” he says. “The service will be secure, discreet and expert, which is the environment these super-expensive cars need.” 

Meanwhile, out front, Sohl plans to add to the company’s growing stock of what he calls ‘turnover cars’, such as £50,000 911s (the 996 series is popular with first-timers), the occasional R8 manual and Ferrari F348s, 430s and 360s, plus sub-£100,000 ‘investment cars’.

“Some might say we’re entering the market just as it’s plateaued but all markets have their cycles, even the cars themselves,” says Sohl, whose personal collection includes a Ferrari Dino 246. “For example, the Ferrari Mondial may be cheap and unpopular but it’ll bounce back. It’s a Ferrari, it’s not made any more and the number of Mondials is falling, so it’s inevitable that values for the best will start to rise.” 

About 250 miles farther north in Knaresborough is a supercar dealer that started 20 years ago. Today, Redline Specialist Cars is possibly the UK’s most successful supercar dealer, selling 300 a year. 

“All things are relative but supercars really are much more affordable these days,” says sales director John Graeme. “Some customers buy as many as six at a time for investment; their money’s not making anything in the bank, so if they buy right, why not?” 

First-timers might begin with an older R8, a 911 Turbo, 430 or Gallardo, he says, before moving on to a 458, Huracán or 911 Turbo S after a couple of years. After that, it’s 488, Aventador S, F12 or McLaren. “It’s a buoyant market with no signs of Brexit jitters,” says Graeme. His tip for future stardom is a 2012 911 Turbo S: “It’ll set you back around £105,000 but it’s a special model that, crucially, is in limited supply. Also, the Aventador SV – now making £300,000, up 20% in the past couple of years.” 

But what if you cut dealers out of the loop by buying at an auction? What kinds of supercars end up here? 

BCA Blackbushe hosts what it calls a Top Car sale of prestige and performance cars twice a month. If you’re lucky, there may be a couple of other prestige sales running as well. I’m lucky. The day I visit, HR Owen and Porsche Retail Group are offloading below-par trade-ins. 

There are some tempting pickings but, as with all auctions, it pays to go a few times just to get used to the system, the pace and, of course, the prices. Take a friend or a specialist technician who knows their supercars. 

Some cars are covered by BCA’s Assured scheme, a 30-point AA mechanical check that costs £40. However, the cars I’m interested in are simply described as having no major mechanical faults, or sold as seen. Among the Top Car lots is a 39,000-mile, 2005-reg Ferrari F430 F1 Spider. Finished in red, it has had six services (the last one at 38,000 miles) and three keepers. It’s not in the best condition (the nearside front wing has had paint, the driver’s side mirror is taped on and one corner of the hood is slightly damaged). If I were buying, I’d go through that service history carefully and try to check if the exhaust manifold is cracked (a problem on the 430). Bids reach £64,600 before it is withdrawn. 

It’s not the only one that fails to meet its reserve. Still, that’s to be expected when you have cars entered by individuals. After the sale, the auction company may act as go-between, enabling buyer and seller to agree a deal. In group sales, like HR Owen’s, cars tend to sell on the hammer because corporate sellers can afford to spread their gains and losses across multiple lots. Still, buying at auction is not for me. Until I can afford to run a supercar, never mind buy one, I’ll duck out. 

I leave with Wilson’s words of warning ringing in my ears: “If a supercar goes through the auctions, there’s a usually a reason – the wrong one.” Perhaps I’ll just go round to James’s place and we can look at the F355 in his garage while he tells me how much he’d like to drive it, if only he could afford to. 


Supercar Tips 2.jpg

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