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2021 Asking Price Index

Cathy Roush

Volume 46 Issue 02

Jan 17, 2021

Cathy Roush discusses the Asking Price Index

    There aren’t many tasks in my job that I look forward to nearly as much as I enjoy setting up the new year’s Excel spreadsheet for the Asking Price Index.


    Along with that task comes the usually annual conversation about which model (models) will be added to the page; conversely, which model (models) will be removed.  You see, traditionally our Asking Price Index is a single page.


    For 2021 the GTC4Lusso, the 488 GTB and 488 Spider have been added to our table. We removed the Mondial QV Cabriolet, the 3.2 Mondial Coupe and the Mondial T Coupe. One gets added; one gets subtracted.  If we tried to squeeze any more models onto the page, you’d need a magnifying glass to read it.


    The concept of tracking prices of Ferraris was presented in the VERY FIRST issue of the Ferrari Market Letter. That cover article was on the 330 GTC. About mid-way through the article was a tabulation of asking prices during the preceding seven months. The second issue focused on the 275 GTB, and again, included analysis on asking prices from 1975.


    Way, WAY, back in the day, pricing comparison of multiple models year over year was a semi-annual calculation; the first and thirteenth issues would have high, average, and low 12-cylinder Ferrari prices and the next issues would be for 6- and 8-cylinder Ferraris. In 1990, the Asking Price Index you recognize became a feature of every issue.


    The figures were based upon published asking prices in advertisements offering Ferraris for sale throughout the United States consisting primarily of, but not limited to, advertisements published in the Ferrari Market Letter.


    Later, as pricing guides became en vogue, values from these publications were incorporated into the spreadsheet. The concept of the tabulation was impressive, considering Dad’s degrees were in history, not economics.


    The frequency of the guides we use for the additional values varies; one is published annually.  Two are bi-monthly and one is quarterly. That means that some of the values can be relatively fresh while other values are relatively stale. This can affect the API more dramatically, particularly the beginning of a year when these ‘new’ values may have changed substantially since the last publication.


    Prices can only be updated as often as the issue is published and therefore the information is historical. To further complicate the matter, and because prices are constantly changing, our spreadsheet Asking Price Index values for the past six issues are factored in on a declining scale. The Asking Price Index is not a way to predict the future, but rather to explain what has happened in the past.


    These guides also vary as to the amount of information presented (and even THAT is constantly changing). Some models will be presented (and have differing values) year over year; for other models all production years are lumped together. Most have some delineation for models produced with both 6-speed and F1 transmission.



    The guides present values for ‘high, low, and average’; another has ‘fair, excellent and good’; two guides only present one value and t the other has a range of four.


    I even have an opinion as to which of the guides seem to present higher values which ones seem to present lower values – compared to the other guides, or even our own API. But I digress.


    I recently received an e-mail from a subscriber who owns a 612 Scaglietti. He wasn’t in the market to sell his car, but he was questioning the values for the 612 in the FML Asking Price Index, compared to the classified ads in the corresponding issues. I concurred with him that the API values for the 612 were considerably higher and seemingly out of context with the cars on offer.


    As has often happened in the past, and to which I referred in FML 4201 from 2017 – the values in our price index will be slow to react to changes in the market, whether positive or negative, particularly during periods of dramatic market activity.


    This occurred in 2014 with the 330 GTC (and which I discussed in FML 3901) when prices for the GTC unexpectedly skyrocketed at the 2013 Monterey auctions where two were sold for $1,000,000 including commission. The API value for the 330 GTC in the issue before auction results were presented (FML 3818) was $356,164. By the end of 2013, in 3826, the API value was $599,444. Only four months had passed! One year later in FML 3918, the API for the 330 GTC was $738,636.


    If realized prices are up, so are asking prices; and vice versa.


    The same thing happened shortly thereafter with Daytonas; then Testarossa and Boxer values became more representative of the classified ads. Quite simply, it’s a cyclical thing. Any model which may be in a state of flux shouldn’t cause you to discount the presentation.  I can’t predict what is the next hot model – if I could, well, you know the rest of that statement.


    I doubt dramatic market activity is the reason for the disparity in the values for the 612 gleaned from any or all, of the guides we consult. There aren’t an inordinate amount of classified ads for 612s as would be the case if prices were escalating.


    As I was setting up the 2021 master worksheet, Jim and I discussed adding “F1” for transmission to our table for describing certain models (including the 612) for which a 6-speed seemingly commands a premium and omitting from our calculation the values from the guides that obviously represent a 6-speed transmission.


    You may find this helpful (although I suspect you surmised the values were for F1 cars on these particular models). In fact, in several of the price guides we use, there can be remarks; i.e., add a certain dollar amount or percentage for Chairs and Flares on a Dino; ditto the enhanced value for 6-speed vs F1 transmission for certain models, realized or perceived.


    Back to the 612 and the API for FML 4601 and my experiment.


    I entered EVERY value from the guides on hand and the four classified ads in the FML, and wound up with 105 entries in the column, ranging from a high of $329,100 to a low of $44,600, for a raw average of $132,837. 15 values were above $200,000 and 19 values were below $80,000.


    The Asking Price Index value at first pass with all of these entries was $149,939. I emphasize “all of these entries” because you will of course remember the good old Roush’s Arbitrary Criteria. There is another calculation in our worksheet that provides an upper limit and a lower limit. The limits are calculated as one-third of the average added to (or subtracted from) the average.


    Generally any values above the upper limit will be removed from the table and the API recalculated (likewise, any values below the lower limit are removed). Historically the upper limit will mean the removal of so-called trailer queens or time capsule cars, ads with unrealistic asking prices, and even reluctant sellers (those just testing the waters, so to speak), while cars with asking prices below the lower limit can include rust-buckets, cars with Chevy engines, or other “problems”.


    For that issue, the upper limit for the 612 was $177,117 and the lower limit was $88,558. The asking prices in the classified ads for this issue fell between these limits.


    Staying with the original 105 entries, I scanned the column; there was an obvious break in the prices (obvious that the ‘next’ price was considerably higher or lower than the price before). For the 612, these were $181,400 (the next highest price was $187,000) and $87,500 (the next lowest price was $84,700).


    SO … I removed the values above $181,400 and below $84,700. There were 60 remaining values, with a raw average of $123,424. The upper limit became $164,565 and the lower limit $82,283. The Asking Price Index went to $150,821 (compared to $149,939 with the original 105 entries).  This is the figure for 612 published in FML 4601 Asking Price Index on page 26.


    Why? Because I took it one step further to see what would happen. I then removed the values greater than $164,565 BUT I had to add back in values between $84,700 and $82,283. These values had been removed from the exercise taking me from 105 to 60 referred to above.


    I was left with 57 values, ranging from $164,900 to $82,000.  The raw average became $115,614; the upper limit $154,153; and the lower limit $77,076. The Asking Price Index became $149,237.


    As you can see, the calculation can become a downward spiral. With each value removed, calculations are adjusted, which means another value may no longer qualify. We generally fudge any values to be removed above or below 10% of those limits … kind of the eye test, if you will. Some days it feels like I’m trying to hit a moving target.


    The three variations in calculation produced an Asking Price Index value for the 612 with a variance of only $1,584, basically a 1% variance. So, I don’t ever have to do that again, at least not for the 612.


    Back to the subject of keeping the Asking Price Index to a single page. And which models get presented, or for this discussion, which models DON’T get presented.


    Dad’s policy was that a model had to be out of production for three years before it would be added to the page. That would have meant the year 2022 for the 488 GTB and Spider. It was still a one in/one out transaction, however.


    I relaxed that policy in 2014 with the California and the 458 Italia because we had plenty of data to present, and the production cycles were lengthening.  We could have classified ads for used 458s while a new one could be ordered. Those models had been introduced into the spreadsheet as soon as classified ads started appearing in these pages.


    On the spreadsheet I am presently calculating values (but not publishing values) for the 812 Superfast, GTC4Lusso T, the 488 Pista, the Portofino, 488 Pista Spider, the F8 Tributo, and even some other models which will probably never make it to “the page”.


    Limited production Ferraris, for example the 599 GTO, the F12tdf, the 458 Speciale or 458 Speciale Aperta, may never appear on our Asking Price Index. I am tracking those values, so if you ever want an idea of where values for these models stand, e-mail me.  A hint, though … asking prices generally tend to be higher than selling prices; and that bears out when comparing the asking prices of the classified ads with the unpublished figures in the API spreadsheet.


    You might say ‘but you present the Supercars’ when classified ads are rare. True enough; and when Jim and I have the conversation about which model to remove, the subject of Supercars comes up. It seems it is more difficult to take one OFF than it is to add one. Plus, with the recent lottery jackpots, it’s kind of fun to see how much of one’s winnings would have to be devoted to put that dream Ferrari in your garage.


    Older Ferraris are also discussed for “removal”. Jim thankfully acknowledges the soft spot in my heart for the Daytona Spyder, and also the 250 PF Coupe – but my argument for keeping the PF Coupe on the page is that we do get classified ads for PF Coupes.



    When it comes to the Asking Price Index for models like the 275 GTB, 275 GTB/4 or 308 GTB QV, for which we rarely if EVER, get a classified ad, the calculation is based on the values derived from the other pricing guides. There are consistently 12 values for the 275 GTB; 8 for the 4-cam; and 8 for the 308 GTB QV.


    Another subscriber once remarked, the API is a lagging average over many issues that allow you to show trends, minimize issue-to-issue noise, and give an indication of the market even when no vehicles are listed. This is just simply a guide for Ferrari enthusiasts to help chart and follow the trends in the market.


    All the pricing guide calculations must be based at least in part on all the other pricing guides. No one person at any of the publications could possibly scour the worldwide entirety of values from cars on offer with dealers, auction results, public records, etc., at a specific point in time. Some of the other pricing guides will notate any significant change (up or down) since the last issue was published and if one guide reports increased or decreased values, usually the others have reported a similar increase or decrease.


    As stated earlier, the frequency and detail of the guides varies. And is constantly being updated!


    Back in September, another subscriber asked for an explanation on why the average price for the 550 Maranello shows $105,000 when dozens in various magazines are asking $105,000 to $190,000 with an average price of about $140,000?


    My reply was this: the starting values in the calculation for 550 Maranello ranged from $200,000 to $71,500. For the current issue (Volume 4518), I then entered the asking prices from the five classified ads in 4518.  I had a total of 35 values.  The ‘average’ was $123,078.  But then we remove values above the calculated ‘upper’ limit ($164,104) and below the ‘lower’ limit ($82,052).


    The 27 values ultimately factoring in the final API value of $105,884 for the 550 M in that issue ranged from $148,000 to $71,500 because once the highest extremes were removed, the lower limit became lower.  There is a bit of subjectivity in the removal of any values – but I looked at ads with the highest prices (Classiche pending, time-capsule car with very few miles, etc.), and a true break in the values emerged.  The next highest value above $148,000 was $174,400.


    I followed up with the subscriber just a few days later. As I was preparing the API for the September 12 issue, I received the September-October issue of the CPI/Black Book … and they had consolidated the pricing for the 550 Maranello (among other models).


    This means they are no longer representing a year-by-year value for the 550 M, but now present one line item: 1997-01 with fair, good and excellent values.  It eliminated as many as 12 values for the calculation but shouldn’t affect the trend.


    At that point in time (FML 4518), the trend for the 550 M had been falling for the last three years. I believe this supports that of the five 550s on offer in that issue, two are still on offer in Volume 4601. One sold on for about $10,000 less; the other two were offered at $146,000 and $148,000 and while at the high end of the values in our calculation, were the only other two available. Sooner or later supply and demand affect turnover.


    However, since that time to the end of 2020, the Asking Price Index for the 550 M trended up. No, the values of the two cars still on offer at $199,000 aren’t included in our spreadsheet … yet … but the inclusion of those asking prices on the initial calculation means that other high values of $184,400 and $179,800 are included. The trend is still down from two and three years ago.


    Our single-page Asking Price Index is a neat and tidy-ish way to catch a glimpse of the direction the market has taken over the past three years for many of the popular models.


    No pricing guide is perfect, and I would like to state again, that it is not intended to provide an exact figure for which you may sell your Ferrari or get a deal on the purchase a particular Ferrari; the point is the dollar amount is not what counts … the trend is what you should focus on.


    The Asking Price Index is not a way to predict the future, but rather to explain what has happened in the past. To mis-quote Churchill, what we learn from history will be repeated.

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