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Thread: Searching for a 550...

  1. #1
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    Paul
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    Default Searching for a 550...

    As some of you might remember, I toyed with the idea of owning a Ferrari about 3 years ago, having owned several sportscars prior to that, including Porsche 911s, Maserati granturismo etc...

    After doing much research, I embarked on a search process that would lead me 6months later into buying a lovely F430. My worries at the time were about cost of ownership - not so much about affordability - but because considering myself a frugal person, I was really scared (as most misinformed people) by the horror stories circulating on the net.

    Fast forward almost 3 years of absolutely delightful ownership, many european and English miles on the clock, and very reasonable running costs - I decided to add a second Ferrari to the garage. Just writing this down, makes me smile, as I would have thought I was crazy for saying this 3 years ago!!

    Anyway - after wondering what could possibly sit next to my V8, I initially narrowed it down to 3 V12’s. A 599 (for its stupid performance and great looks), a 612 (mostly for its amazing value) and the 550 (for... well, it’s a 550!). To cut a long story short, I zeroed in without too much effort on the 550. Owning a modern F1 V8 (and red) already, it was only natural to go for the future classic, classy and analog feeling car.

    So here I am, early September 2019, officially kicking off my search for a 550 maranello.

    Here are some of the things I am looking for:
    - Color: silver, grey or blue (tdf or pozzi)... potentially black though not my first choice
    - Seat: black or tan. Not creme or bordeaux
    - Mileage: anywhere between 35-50k Miles. Given that I really want to drive the @@ out of the car, I would rather not pay a huge premium for a low miles model and worry about depreciation too much. Without mentioning problems associated with garage queens.
    - Driving position: I am not fussed about RHD vs LHD as most of the miles will be driven over Europe.

    - Budget: I know it’s a buyer’s market at the moment, but who knows how far the prices will go. I don’t need a concours car, I just want a well loved and well maintained car. I believe a 5-figure budget starting with a ‘6’ gets me in an honest RHD, and a budget starting with a ‘5’ in a LHD. I am in no hurry but equally have the cash to jump on the right car.

    So very much like I did 3 years ago, I am starting a thread, hoping for more invaluable contributions from you, good people of this forum, in furthering my journey in the Ferrari world.

  2. #2
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    jonnyjonkers
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    If you’d asked me 12 years ago if I’d ever own a Ferrari I’d have said “Yes, one day a 328”. I’m now on my 4th Ferrari having owned a 328, 355, 550 & 430. I still have the 550 & 430 so can relate to you for all the same reasons.

    I bought my 550 about 6 years ago; it’d been through 9 owners, had 48k on the clock and was in need of a good home & some TLC. It was good, not great condition, in Grigio Titanio with Bordeaux interior.

    Prior to purchase I read through the history and all seemed in order. The car had been through The Ferrari Centre which was reassuring and Roger (Roger Collingwood at Kent High Performance http://www.theferraricentre.com/ ) confirmed the history was good.
    Next I had an independent specialist go through the car and we prepared a list of priorities, namely engine mounts (use 575 items), bonnet release (new cable & pull) and a few sundries.

    The biggest issue I’m still having with the car is sticky interior plastics. They’re not as bad as the 355 was but the buttons that see heavy traffic (i.e. boot release, fuel cap) are rank. I have replaced two of the power window buttons but cannot find the third anywhere.

    The dashboard leather had shrunk – they all do – and mine was starting to look tatty. I had a local guy Simon (Simon Franklin, 07812 017 819 http://www.sfcar-trim.co.uk ) fit new leather. It cost about £2.5k but he matched the grain and embossed “SRS airbag”. Colour is an easy match but it’s matching the grain that matters. I am delighted with the result.

    After noting that every panel incl. the roof had a mark of some sort I booked a respray and set about buying new glass. Warning – the rear quarter-light windows are no longer available. Scott & Brett at Custom Exotics in Harlow (http://www.customexotics.co.uk/ ) did the work at a very keen price.
    An early treat to myself was a set of Hillsalive custom fit luggage which makes great use of the available space and looks good too when arriving at hotels, especially as the boot items look like shotgun carriers!

    Purely for cosmetic reasons I’ve fitted Hill Eng. wheel spacers to the rear as I felt the admittedly huge rear wheels still looked lost in the wheel arch. After melting the aged-Pirelli front tyres at Snetterton I’ve recently fitted Goodyear Eagle (£130 each) to the fronts and turn-in is now much more precise and the car tram-lines less too. The car was excellent on the track; I’ve driven Snetterton in the dry and Silverstone in the wet, where sky, car & track were all the same colour! Never once did the car under or over-steer. They may look like GT cruisers but these are finely-balanced, highly-capable cars.
    The 550 hasn’t been cheap to run (expect around 18mpg) but I’ve kept up with regular maintenance and it’s been good to me. I budget about £2.5k a year and that seems to cover most things including insurance, MOT & main-dealer service.

    I had thought about changing to a 599 but couldn’t really justify the cost-to-change plus the potential increase in running costs.

    A 550 will sit nicely with a 430. I have a 2009 F1 Spyder so the cars are really quite different.
    Take your time and enjoy the search. Good luck, Jonathan

  3. #3
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    cgt
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    I very nearly made the jump after two 550's and a manual 575 into a 599, very glad I didn't as despite the power, the newer car lacks some of the magic.

    Of the three my favourite was the highish miles 550, it was far more reliable than my low mileage example.

    And even when people were questioning the looks (a long time ago), I have always thought it gorgeous with just the right mix of classic styling cues with modern usability and importantly not so wide as to be unusable on tight roads.

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    Last edited by cgt; 17-09-2019 at 11:58 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgt View Post
    I very nearly made the jump after two 550's and a manual 575 into a 599, very glad I didn't as despite the power, the newer car lacks some of the magic.

    Of the three my favourite was the highish miles 550, it was far more reliable than my low mileage example.

    And even when people were questioning the looks (a long time ago), I have always thought it gorgeous with just the right mix of classic styling cues with modern usability and importantly not so wide as to be unusable on tight roads.

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    I have graduated to the 599 having had 550 / 575 era v12’s albeit them specifically 456MGT’s. The main advantage is actually cost of ownership. The power train is next generation so has nothing like the maintenance hours required of the older cars. So more time and money available for using. The bodywork is much better quality and the steel chassis on all my 456’s did what steel does. Tyres are comparable in costs and CCM brake discs last 30k as opposed to the earlier cars steel brakes and pads which I was forever replacing. Interiors from the M variant onwards have got better and better so there is no reason IMHO why I would take the older cars over the newer one. A gated shifter was good at the time but I don’t miss it at all.

    Personal choice and all that but there is so much less hassle owning newer V12’s in comparison. A mate has an 812 and he just drives and drives it...

  5. #5
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    Interesting perspective Mod as most forums I have spent time on and specialists/dealers I have spoken to, speak about the lower cost of ownership of the 550.
    The performance and cost of ownership aren’t really the reason why I decided on the 599. Beyond the esthetic alone, I wanted something more analogic. The F430 is all I need when it comes to performance, so it checks that box.
    I am sure I’d consider a 599 if I had 3-4 Ferrari’s in the garage already :-)

  6. #6
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    Do any of you know any of those 2 cars?

    https://www.pistonheads.com/classifi...74-995/9669449

    https://www.pistonheads.com/classifi...uk-rhd/9697619

    I really like these color combos - and both to be in good condition for the slightly higher mileage. Just seen that the first one has dropped below the £70 mark, but it is still on its first clutch... that is quite impressive and could mean it’s due a new one soon.

  7. #7
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    You would want to look at the quality of the respray on the cheaper car...sounds like somebody is taking a bit of a hit on that!

    Still, lovely cars and looks like three have sold in that price bracket at KHPC recently so seem to have hit a price point that is acceptable to the market place.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rivarama View Post
    Do any of you know any of those 2 cars?

    https://www.pistonheads.com/classifi...74-995/9669449

    https://www.pistonheads.com/classifi...uk-rhd/9697619

    I really like these color combos - and both to be in good condition for the slightly higher mileage. Just seen that the first one has dropped below the £70 mark, but it is still on its first clutch... that is quite impressive and could mean it’s due a new one soon.

    Second car has a strategically placed window in the foreground of the interior shot and then an unnatural seatbelt placement in the interior shot taken from the opposite side

    Call me a cynic but I'll bet the drivers seat bolster is worn to an unsightly condition - I have kissed way too many frogs that present great in photos but when seen up close don't pass muster. These are rare cars so when you go to see them you have little perspective on condition.

    No doubt both these cars present well but at that mileage with full invoices I would expect to see brake discs and pad replacements in the history file as well as suspension components like dampers, bushes etc.

    If not I would want a full survey of the vehicle by a Ferrari dealership / specialist.

    Suspension rebuild bills are BIG on these cars so forewarned is forearmed.

  9. #9
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    Thanks
    Quote Originally Posted by Modificato View Post
    .

    Suspension rebuild bills are BIG on these cars so forewarned is forearmed.
    Thanks for the advice Mod. Please enlighten (scare) me on the cost of a suspension rebuild, including ball joints etc... The first car is located close to me - so I am thinking of going to see it.

    Would you be concerned about buying a 55k miles 550? If maintained properly is it fair to assume the car can go on for 150k miles before contemplating a rebuild? Looking at some european cars on autoscout some owners there have put some serious mileage on.

    The dealer selling the car has all his cars maintained and serviced by Dave Fitzgerald, supposedly a “very well regarded technician in the Ferrari world” - I have never heard of him, has any on here have?

    The car will receive a major service including an upgrade of the silicon cooling hose- which bizarrely - hadn’t been upgraded yet. Strange.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rivarama View Post
    Thanks

    Thanks for the advice Mod. Please enlighten (scare) me on the cost of a suspension rebuild, including ball joints etc... The first car is located close to me - so I am thinking of going to see it.

    Would you be concerned about buying a 55k miles 550? If maintained properly is it fair to assume the car can go on for 150k miles before contemplating a rebuild? Looking at some european cars on autoscout some owners there have put some serious mileage on.

    The dealer selling the car has all his cars maintained and serviced by Dave Fitzgerald, supposedly a “very well regarded technician in the Ferrari world” - I have never heard of him, has any on here have?

    The car will receive a major service including an upgrade of the silicon cooling hose- which bizarrely - hadn’t been upgraded yet. Strange.
    Paul, you know the sports Maserati forum 3200gt brakes fit an F550? Same entirely. Just if you want a cheap source of good components when you do get one.

    Ive a pal that’s got a yellow left hand drive one if that interests you?

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