LaFerrari, P1, 918: No Longer the New New Thing

I woke up this morning to an auction alert on a 2015 McLaren P1.  The P1 had failed to sell at a high bid of $1.12M against an estimate of $1.23M-$1.46M. The low end of the estimate is roughly 50% of the asking prices on P1s just 3 years ago.  Clearly the P1 is no longer the new, must have, thing.  Looking at the other two members of this decades Supercar “Holy Trinity” Porsche 918s have dropped by at least 30% from their highs and LaFerraris are down close to $1 million.  Of the three, only the LaFerrari is still selling for considerably more than its original list price.  All three have now reached that awkward age where they just another used limited edition supercar. 

During this same period, McLaren F1s have continued to appreciate at a rapid clip.  At this point you will not get any change from $20 million for a F1.  Carrera GTs and F50s have doubled in the last five years while F40s have continued to appreciate steadily.  What these “winners” all seem to have in common is outstanding analogue focused engineering, designs that are both timeless yet still seem to improve with age, and require a fair amount of skill to drive well. The one model from the last generation that has fallen back in price is the Enzo.  The last few auction sales of Enzos are over a million dollars off their high sales in 2016.  The other limited-edition supercar that hasn’t appreciated over this period is the Porsche 959.

When looking at all nine of these supercars, they basically fall into two groups; technology showcases and analogue masterpieces.  The former are all falling in value with the latter continuing to appreciate.  The problem with cutting edge technology is what is cutting edge today, isn’t tomorrow. In fact, it can feel quite antiquated quickly. The Enzos F1 gearbox feels hopelessly slow vs. today’s dual clutch paddle boxes.  Compared to the brilliant 6 speed manual gearbox in the F50, the Enzos F1 is a bit of a turd.  The batteries in the McLaren P1 are also a well know issue.  The P1 battery pack will need replacement at some point and for about the same cost you could pick up a mint Ferrari 430 Scuderia.  While I’m not quite as close to the 918 or LaFerrari battery pack situation, I have to believe it is a similar story.  Let the battery die on your LaFerrari and you will need a tow truck to get it back to the dealer.  The four-wheel drive and suspension system on the 959 are more candidates for the antiquated list. 

The other challenge the technology showcase supercars have is they are no longer at the top of the charts on performance.  The new Ferrari SF90 Stradale will lap Fiorano faster than a LaFerrari and a McLaren Senna will have a lovely view of a P1 in its rearview mirror driving around Silverstone.  Once this performance halo is gone, the car loses the new new thing luster and thus a part of its valuation premium.

Looking forward, my guess would be that the Enzo, LaFerrari, P1 and 918 will continue to slide south in value to a bit below the original list prices before starting to trend back up as they age from latest thing to collectable classic.  The “must have” crew has moved on which is saturating the market for all of these formerly “latest” models. Given the much higher production numbers on the F40 & Carrera GT, values will hold or appreciate slightly.  There are always a few of each on the market so supply and demand seem balanced.  It’s the McLaren F1 and Ferrari F50 that still have appreciation potential.  They are each aging brilliantly and there is nothing dated about either.  Low production numbers make finding a mint one for sale a challenge.  I’m still kicking myself for the £700k F1 I passed on back in 2004.

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March 2020

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