Sales of specialist sports cars rose by 7% year on year in 2020 to take 2.9% of the overall market for new cars. During a pandemic with lockdown periods and limited ability to go out and have fun behind the wheel, that’s quite impressive. Most of these were models like the Audi TT and Mazda MX-5, but what about supercars from marques like Ferrari and Lamborghini?
Here’s where the picture isn’t so rosy. With the exception of Ferrari, sales numbers were down. Felipe Munoz, an analyst at Jato Dynamics, said supercar prices also fell by 0.8% across the three major European markets (the UK, Germany and Switzerland).
“It’s mostly the result of the introduction of cheaper versions and lower demand for the most expensive ones,” said Munoz.
That view is echoed by many of the dealers we spoke to. Andrew North, managing director of Alexanders Prestige in North Yorkshire, said sales of supercars under £200,000 were very good in 2020. In fact, he said he sold seven Ferrari 488s for what he called “strong money” in August alone. But North said there are just too many manufacturers making too many cars at the really high end of the market and that has forced a decline not just in prices but also in demand.
He cited McLaren as an example, saying it has made too many cars and too many choices. “McLaren has ruined it for themselves,” said North. That will not be good for McLaren to hear but the Woking company is not alone.
“All the manufacturers are competing, so we’ve got a McLaren Elva, an Aston Martin Speedster, a Ferrari [Monza] SP1 and SP2,” said Edward Lovett, founder of auction site Collecting Cars. “I just don’t know all the buyers for these cars.”
Buyers are still keen on ultimate exclusivity, though. Tom Hartley, founder of the dealership that bears his name, has just taken delivery of a Bentley Pikes Peak Continental GT, one of only three made in right-hand drive.
“A Bentley collector will buy that car from me because there are only three. He will be one of only three people in the whole world to own one,” he said.
So people will still pay top dollar for ultimate exclusivity, but Hartley said it’s important to remember that what goes up can come down, especially in other areas of the market. The rise in prices seen after the 2008 financial crash is definitely over, with used supercar prices falling 25-30% since 2016. Even buyers of new models are often having to get used to the same depreciation as those of us with a family saloon, although with more zeros. Hartley said he sold his first Ferrari 812 Superfast in 2018 for £425,000 and a week ago sold an identical 2018 model with just 2000 miles on it for £220,000.
Lovett said: “I think the buyers have been somewhat naive, thinking they can get in and out of these very expensive cars without it costing them anything.” However, he said those who buy the cars to enjoy them and who are happy to take the hit are still doing so.