Many people come to the "Buying Used" feature of Sempre Ferrari expecting a full series of articles on what to look for, look out for, etc. when buying a used Ferrari. In truth, this feature is a real-life oddessy of one owner's experience buying his first Ferrari, a 330 GT 2+2. It is an entertaining feature but may not be what you were looking for.
However, here is a little advice about buying any used Ferrari.
Any seller not willing to get the car down to the closest dealership or reputable independent shop is trying to hide something. Invariably, there will be something wrong with the car and finding it upfront will more than cover the cost of the inspection. And then there's the peace of mind.
For any model there will be cars offered for sale at less than most offers of the same model. Usually there is a reason for this. It might seem like you can, for example, get that 348 for $45k instead of that 328 you were considering but more often than not that 348 is cheap for a reason. And you'll end up spending more than the amount saved just to bring it up to snuff. Best yet, take advantage of someone else's folly. Someone may have just spent more than the car is worth restoring or doing engine service. You might be able to get a concours car for just a few thousand more than an average example.
Keeping in mind the advice above, buy the best model Ferrari you can afford. You will never regret it and it may save you the hassle and tax of upgrading later. For example, if you can afford a 328 then you're probably better off buying it than that 308 GTSi or even that 308 QV. If you can afford a 348 or 355 then even better yet.
Every Ferrari came from the factory with at least an owner's manual and a tool kit. In many cases there were multiple manuals and a tool roll as well as a kit. This stuff is expensive and no car that has been well cared for should be without it. Crooks will try to sell you a car and keep this good stuff so they can sell it separately. Don't let them. More importantly, look for the service records on the car. Service can be expensive and you don't want to buy a car that has had needed service skipped. Testarossas need expensive timing belt replacements. Old V-12s need valve adjustments, etc.
Don't look to buy a car via those glossy magazines that pander to the wannabe rich set. If you're buying an older car, or even if you're buying a newer car, you should first subscribe to the Ferrari Market Letter. Advertising in the Market Letter is free and all car ads must include the serial number and price. You'll find all the models for sale every 2 weeks here. If you are buying a newer Ferrari then your local paper can often be your best source. Buying from a dealer is often worth the peace of mind.
If you're buying a new car and the owner says it has always been serviced at the dealer then call the dealer and find out. If you're buying an older car, call Gerald Rousch of the Market Letter and ask him for details on the car (by serial number). He keeps track of everything and can tell you how many times the car has been offered for sale and at what prices, etc. He might even know that it has been wrecked, repainted, or is a rebody.
You don't have to own a Ferrari to join the FCA. Spend the $100 and attend some events. Talk to people. You'll find out lots of things.
Before you buy, and after, drive it. There is nothing worse for a Ferrari than to let it sit. Sure, they are beautiful and expense and you worry about it but it is a car. Drive it.
We hope that help
For a complete look at Sempre Ferrari, you may want to check out the rest of the articles from Volume 1, Issue 1 - June 1994