Currently reading: How to buy a sub-£40,000 Ferrari
Always wanted an Ferrari or Porsche but never had the funds? Richard Bremner has the answers

Depreciation: it can be as much a friend as an enemy. It shrinks the value of your wheeled assets but can also bring once-unattainable dreams within reach.

The idea of cheap Ferraris and Porsches is almost as old as the brands themselves, but as clichéd as the ‘Ferrari for the price of a Ford’ story is, the excitement of this possibility never wanes, so we make no excuses for once again testing the waters.

You must still spend the price of a very decent set of new wheels – a range-topping Ford Kuga, for instance – to buy a Ferrari of sufficient calibre to ensure that its presence in your garage doesn’t quickly sour. For a Porsche, however, the story is rather different.

Those for the price of a Ford Fiesta – and a less-than-shiny one at that – have been around ever since the not-quite-a-Porsche 924 made its debut nearly 50 years ago.

In fact, you can still buy a tired 924 for a few thousand, but a more rewarding and viable proposition is a Boxster, of which there are plenty from around £4000. That’s almost 10 times less than for a decent starter Ferrari, although if you can double the amount you pay for a Boxster, the risks might reduce somewhat.

Enough of the theory, though. Can you really buy into exotic territory on a shoestring? And does that come with the sort of headaches you would imagine? Read on to find out...

Quick links: Background - Driving - Servicing - How to buy a budget Porsche Boxster - How to buy a budget Ferrari Mondial

The cars 

We set out to find the cheapest Ferrari and Porsche and ended up inspecting the pair you see here. Neither was absolutely the cheapest functioning Porsche or Ferrari available on the day, with anything left-hand drive or accident-recorded being eliminated.

And in the case of the Porsche, we avoided the Boxsters that had done many more than 100,000 miles (although that doesn’t imply that these are bad buys) and another kind of Porsche that can often be had for even less than a Boxster: the first-generation Cayenne.

Early Porsche SUVs often suffer troubles ranging from leaking plastic coolant pipes on the V8 to air suspension levitation issues and glowing engine management lights with causes that are hard to isolate. Plus, impressive though the odd-looking Cayenne was, the Boxster is a more exciting prospect, being a sports car.

There’s more than one sub-£40k starter Ferrari too. For the really adventurous (or rash), there’s the 400/412, an elegant, V12-engined four-seater that’s very much a grand tourer and often fitted with a value-reducing automatic gearbox. Thirsty and costly to maintain, it’s nevertheless glamorous and gets you one of Ferrari’s finer engines.

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Or there’s its successor, the 456 GT – also a V12 four-seater, also often an automatic and also expensive to maintain, according to Kent High Performance Cars boss Roger Collingwood.

KHPC is a long-established Ferrari specialist – 40 years so far – and very likely Britain’s largest source of used Ferraris. It also has a workshop that services, repairs and restores these cars.

It’s here where we find a £37,995, 49,000-mile Mondial from 1985, with the 240bhp 2.9-litre V8.

“The Mondial is a typical entry-level Ferrari,” says sales executive Simon Hamilton-Walker. Collingwood adds that its four seats can often help win a green light from a family man’s partner, although Hamilton-Walker drily adds that the rear seats “are only useful if you haven’t got legs”.

Collingwood explains that most of the stock “is on a sale-or-return basis”, KHPC earning commission on cars sold on behalf of customers. It typically sells 60-70 annually.

Every car is inspected before it’s sold and any necessary work carried out to bring the car up to standard. This can include anything from minor rectification to corrosion repair, especially on older models like the Mondial, which Collingwood says “is very prone to rust”. He elaborates: “The chassis is usually okay – it’s tubular – but the wings, doors and sills are all vulnerable.”

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The mechanical story is more encouraging. “The engine will do 100,000 miles with no problem if it’s properly maintained and has regular oil changes,” he adds, and the same applies to the gearbox if it’s treated carefully.

Most mechanical parts are still available for the Mondial and body panels can be found or fabricated. Trim is harder, says Collingwood, but can usually be made.

What're they like? 

We can’t drive this Mondial, because it belongs to a customer, but we’re taken for a ride in it over enough distance to suggest that it functions as it should, a sports exhaust lifting its aural impact. There are no rattles or squeaks, the engine sounds healthy, everything works and the interior is in excellent shape, as is the red bodywork.

It feels like you could immediately do some distance in this car with no issue.

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That’s probably true of the Porsche we found too, any doubts stemming from its low price and the fact that it hasn’t had any pre-sale remedial work.

But this 2002 Boxster, with a 228bhp 2.7-litre flat six (for 0-60mph in 6.4sec, which isn’t bad for this money), has a very well-stamped service book, almost all with the right people, and the last service was not so long ago.


There are no invoices, but the full book pack remains with the car, as does the second key (both encouraging signs), it comes with a factory hard top and its 87,000 miles are below average for its age. 

The paintwork carries quite a few scratches and the interior could use a deeper clean, but there should be plenty of life left in it yet.

This Boxster is on sale with UK Carz Club, whose proprietor Ash Rehman operates from his home in Ilford, east London. Most of his stock comes from British Car Auctions, he says, but this Boxster was a trade-in against a newer model.

Tidy without being exceptional, it’s decent for the price. Obvious issues are those scratches and the inevitable wear to the steering wheel rim and the gearlever. But its MOT history bears out the miles, the only advisories being corrosion to some brake pipes, worn brake discs, corrosion on the MacPherson struts and a mild oil leak.

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All of which suggests a car that could do with some light investment for a fit future life. That would include checking out the oil leak, fitting new brakes and new brake pipes and fixing the driver’s electric window, which doesn’t drop and rise when the door is opened and closed (although it does function otherwise).

A brief drive around a car park suggested tiring shock absorbers and bushes but nothing else of obvious concern. You could probably run this car on a minimal budget for a while.

It would be better, though, to tackle those MOT advisories and refresh the suspension, to better enjoy the chassis that the Boxster is admired for. Doing all this would probably cost a good £3000-£5000, unless you can take care of some of it yourself, but you should then have a mechanically fit, relatively low-mileage, budget Boxster.

For some, that would make it an interesting and enjoyable rolling refurbishment. Others might think it better to spend the refurb money on a better car in the first place, which is always the conundrum with used cars of advanced years. That said, even an £8000 Boxster is likely to need some of this work, so buying cheaper could be shrewder.

Either way, the Boxster provides impressive value compared with the Ferrari, if less of the glamour. Oddly enough, both hit 60mph in 6.4sec when new.

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Both are mid-engined, both serve an entertaining chassis (although the facelifted and pricier 3.2-litre Mondial T is markedly better) and both are infinitely more appealing than the small SUVs that either £5500 or £38,000 could buy you.

How to buy a budget Porsche Boxster 

The chance of finding an extensive service history on a £5000 Porsche is much smaller than with a Ferrari, but this particular Boxster has an impressively complete set of stamps that are virtually up to date and with well-known Porsche specialists as well as the maker’s own network. That’s a good start.

In the case of the original 986 Boxster, there’s the infamous intermediate shaft bearing issue. Failure can instantly shred an engine. The good news is that this affects fewer cars than the internet might suggest and plenty will have had a modification to negate the issue.

If such work can be proven, great. If not, you’re on your own, and a failure will be terminal: the £10k-£12k rebuild costs will drown the value of the car.

That’s one reason why Boxsters are so cheap, but it’s only a minority that are affected. Otherwise, buying the best example you can afford is good advice. Check for all the usual hazards like crash damage, tyre brand and condition (a clue to recent maintenance standards) and evidence of neglect and abuse.

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How to buy a budget Ferrari Mondial 

KHPC’s Roger Collingwood says: “Buy the best that you can afford and ideally from a specialist, because then it will have been checked over.”

As a specialist himself, he’s bound to say this, but equally the condition of this Mondial and the experiences of your serially car-buying reporter bear out this advice. And if you do have a problem, there’s a dealer with a good reputation to go back to.

Just as important is the car’s history, especially in the case of a Ferrari, which can deteriorate significantly if not regularly tended to.

This car has a pretty extensive maintenance record, as you would hope of a 39-year-old, all of it neatly catalogued. Particular good news is that it had new timing belts and a fresh clutch less than 5000 miles ago.

Workshops with fixed price menus are handy for budgeting, too. A Mondial service is £745 and a belt change £1650 at KHPC – hardly Dacia prices but not bad at all for a thoroughbred.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
skikid 8 April 2024

I think like the rest of you ,buyer beware ,a friend of mine purchased a nice clean Aston for about £40k and although he enjoyed this among his many other similar cars, one unsuspecting day the head gasket blew and wrecked the engine, the quotation from Aston dealer to repair was £30k to £35k so in his mind written off and traded it for an suv with a friend in the trade.So agree what ever you spend if you are lucky great if not probably not worth repairing the car and is then scrap.

giulivo 8 April 2024
"If you couldn't afford it new, you can't afford it used" is still often a valid proverb.
xxxx 8 April 2024

Why would anyone buy from a someone selling cars behind their house who's bought the car from an auction, probably posing as a private seller too.  Seems to be the in thing on e bay at the moment, your first question aimed at these sellers should be is the v5 in your name, if not walk away.

Buy from auctions direct but accept there'll be problems OR better still buy direct and private so as you get to know the owner, you might just then get a decent 4k Porsche.