I got back from Monterey in August and had a conversation about the auction results with a client of mine. We talked about the “Supercars” and the extrordinary $20 million dollar price the McLaren F1 got at auction, and how we felt these prices were going to affect the other cars from that era. He told me he’s been thinking of buying a Ferrari 288GTO, and felt if he didn’t do it now, the prices would keep going higher. I told him I really liked the 288GTO because in a time without traction control or ABS brakes, the GTO was a twin turbo car with all the power and no safety net. Driving one of these cars required respect and restraint!
Two days later, I got a call from the same customer asking me to take a look at a car he was thinking of buying. He was ready to wire the money, but I told him to hold off until I had a chance to look over the car. Not believing where the prices of these cars had reached, I felt at this price point we should slow down, do our “due diligence” and also see what other cars were available. There was a risk in losing a car because we were too slow, but that was a risk I was willing to take to find the right car.
After making a few phone calls, I decided the first car was not the one for my client because of the history, but there was another one rumored to be in Mexico City getting serviced. I got some photos, and started researching the car, but the next day I got a call from another broker telling me about this low mileage GTO in Mexico. “That’s interesting, I heard this same car was for sale from another broker!” My second broker told me his contact had put a deposit on the car, and was buying the car to import to the States so it was impossible someone else had the car. I called the first broker and told him how I was offered the car from someone else, and asked whether he really had control of the car. Both brokers claimed they had the car, but someone was was wrong!
In the world of 7 figure cars, there are often many people involved. Some are the old school brokers that have been doing this kind of horse trading for decades, and there are new and upcoming guys who also want a piece of the action. These people stand between the owners and the sellers, and finding a good car is only part of the problem. Buyers often find themselves paying a daisy chain of broker’s commissions and finder’s fees because there are three or four middlemen with their hand out. There are also very few people looking out for the best interests of the buyer. Auction houses, brokers, and dealers want to sell you a car, but no one really is there to help the buyer. I try my best to be the advocate for the buyer, which is often a rare role!
The Mexican 288GTO seemed to have too many variables with which broker had the car for sale, and there were some concerns about importing it back into the States, but a third GTO came to my attention in Paris. I would have preferred to buy one in the States to avoid the extra costs of importing, but this one seemed really nice. It was a one owner car with under 7000 kilometers on the odometer. It was serviced regularly by Pozzi, the Paris Dealership its whole life and now the 80 year old owner was ready to sell. I was introduced to the broker in Paris by a broker I knew well here in the States, and I started the research and negotiations for documentation, pictures, and supporting story. I called the usual historians and registries to confirm the VIN, and forwarded the information to my customer.
If it wasn’t for COVID, I would have offered to go to France to look at the car, but we now live in a different time. The good thing was this was a well known car serviced by the dealership, and had very low mileage. At one point, we just had to make the leap of faith. I asked my client to transfer the money, and he bought the car!
The next step was to get the car back to the States. Importing a car to the US runs about 2.5 % of the value of the car car, with approximately 0.5% of additional fees and handling. I have a good shipping company I used for international shipping and called him as soon as I knew we were buying the Paris car. Paperwork had to filed, and schedules confirmed. COVID reared its ugly head again, when we discussed how the car was going to get shipped. Ocean going cargo containers were scarce and there was a two month wait! The other option was to fly the car.
The price for flying a car had also doubled since the Pandemic began, but we were caught in a bind. Here was a 7 figure car that was purchased, but had the potential to be stuck in a port waiting for delivery. The cost for flying a car today was $45K, but it was the only way to get it home safely and quickly. In the end, I think having a car on a pallet waiting for delivery by air cargo made going through customs a breeze. We had the car in about 10 days from the time we closed the deal.
The Ferrari 288GTO arrived safely and I met the owner as we unloaded the car for the last time. It was exactly as it was described, and fired up immediately. I brought some fuel to put in the fuel tank as it’s required to ship a car with very little fuel for safety. It was such a nice feeling to see the car tearing down the driveway after all the chasing, negotiations, logistics, and paperwork to get this car into the new owner’s hands!