Friday, 24 June 2016

Car Flipping. Say What?

Car flipping as a career?  Who would have thought.  And I'm not talking about physically flipping a car.
Kids, DO NOT attempt this at home.
Up until 2yrs ago, if I heard the word "Car Flipping" I would have visualised a car actually doing a flip - like in a stunt.  But now it seems it also means something else and many are turning the practice into a profitable career.

For the uninitiated, car flipping [or flipping cars] is the term used on the process of buying a car, then selling it for more than the manufacturers recommended retail price for as quickly as possible.  Sometimes while still waiting to take delivery of the vehicle.  It's similar to ticket-scalping for sought after concerts.

The cars involved are usually the ultra-rare [and expensive] supercars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, and now McLaren.

I'm not talking about the standard run of the mill offerings like the Ferrari 488, Lamborghini Aventador, Porsche 911 or McLaren 570S.  I'm referring to their limited edition models such as 458 Speciale, Aventador SV [SuperVeloce], GT3 RS, and 675LT to name a few.

Ferrari 458 Speciale
Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV
These cars usually sell out within days of the order books being opened.  And generally have a waiting list of 18+ months.
McLaren 675LT
Porsche GT3 RS

A recent example is the Ferrari F12tdf [Tour de France].  A total of 799 will be built and all sold out within a week 

While most of the lucky few who were accepted to buy the F12tdf are still waiting for their cars to be delivered, some examples in the used car market are already fetching twice its retail price in the UK/Europe [£339k vs £700k].  And there are no shortage of buyers willing to pay the extra premium to get their hands on these super exclusive supercars.
Ferrari F12tdf [Tour de France]

Ford is also experiencing high demands for their supercars.  Can you imagine a Ford as desirable and highly sought after as a Ferrari?  But it's happening.

The series 2 Ford GT released last decade is an appreciating asset today.  And the soon to be released successor - [series 3] GT - have already attracted over 6,000 customer deposits, but only 500 are planned to be built.  Deliveries are not expected until 2017.

Ford GT [Series 3]

Ford GT [Series 2]
As a result, Ford will look at all interested buyers and will give preferences to current owners of GT40s and [series 2] GTs

Followed by, what I can only guess as "who you know".  Like the well-known well-connected, famous, and the influential [ie. business leaders, powerful individuals etc].

The sort of personalities that would bring additional hype and attention to the brand simply by being associated with the car.  Here alone Ford will save millions through free publicity.  
1968 Ford GT40

And if there are any left overs, a "first come first serve" for the rest.  Last on Ford's buyers list, are car flippers, only if there are any left - doubtful.

There lies the problem.  Car flipping has become big business that manufacturers are screening buyers.  They [manufacturers] can afford to be choosy right now as demand is outstripping supply.

Ferrari is notorious at denying certain buyers acquiring their hypercars and limited edition models.  I've even read an article that Ferrari [allegedly] went as far as requesting their authorised dealers to stop selling used special edition Ferraris to individuals on their [Ferrari] black list, and to other used supercar dealers.  It was [allegedly] said that Ferrari threatened to limit or stop allocating future special edition cars to any dealer defying this request.

Whether you are for or against this method, manufacturers will continue this practice so long as there's high demand for their works of art.  And right now, I don't see this appetite for rare supercars abating any-time soon.  Unless we go through another global financial crisis, that is.

Selling these cars are all about timing.  Release it as the financial market takes a dive, manufacturers will end up warehouse full of them collecting dust.  And such bad timing was experienced none more so than both the McLaren F1 and Jaguar XJ220.

McLaren F1
Both were designed & developed during the high excesses of the 80s, but released as the recession hit in the early 90s.  As a result, sales performance was disappointing for both brands.

The McLaren F1 priced from £500,000 [£814k / AU$1.5m in today's money] sold just 71 customer cars against a target of 300.  Production seized in 1997.   

Jaguar had intended to produce up to 350 XJ220s with the road versions priced from £345,000 [£561k / AU$1m in today's money], but production ceased in 1994 with 275 production cars built, not all of which had been sold; some left-hand drive examples were still available in 1997.  

The recession left many of those who placed a deposit unable to complete the purchase.  In the end there were heavy discounting by Jaguar to shift the remaining XJ220.  The last of the unsold XJ220s were sold for £127,550 [£208k / AU$381k in today's money] plus VAT in 1997.

Jaguar XJ220
McLaren's F1 race program eventually turned a small profit thanks to the sale and servicing of the 28 GTR racing variants produced.  In all 106 F1s where built which included 7 prototypes.

Now in today's money, the McLaren F1 has fared far better.  You'd be lucky to get one for less than $14 million [£8m].

While the Jaguar XJ220 is currently selling for around AU$567,000+ [£310k+].  If you got one of the discounted cars in 1997, then you'd be in the black.  But if you paid full price, you're still seeing red.

If only you had a crystal ball, right?

OK, these are older supercars and you don't want to wait 10-20 years to make your cash.  So let's talk about more recent cars.  After all car flippers tend to flip cars within days, weeks or months of buying them to make their profit.

The cars that are currently fetching high resale prices are:

 - 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4

 - 2016 Porsche 911 R
 - 2015 Porsche GT3 RS
 - 2015 Porsche GT3
 - 2016 Ferrari F12tdf

 - 2015 Ferrari 458 Speciale
 - 2016 McLaren 675LT

 - 2015 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG
If you were lucky enough to buy any of these cars new, in Europe and North America there are buyers in the wings ready to take them off your hands offering far more than the original sticker price.  In Europe prices offered on top of the original retail starts from £60,000 for the Cayman GT4, the cheapest on the list.  Up to £400,000 for the F12tdf.  Not a bad return for a few weeks/months investment.

2016 Porsche Cayman GT4

Perhaps you're now thinking, "I can do that.  I'd like to flip cars for a living".  Before you start, there are some things you should know:

1.   Money - obviously you will need to have money to begin with - these limited edition supercars are not cheap.  Be prepared to spend anywhere from half a million to over a million dollars per car new.  And hypercars are nearly $2 million & over each!

2.   Who you know - Increase your personal profile within the automotive industry.  You will need to socialise and build connections with dealers, manufacturers, and automotive clubs & media.  Placing an order for a limited release car only once you've read/heard about it from mainstream media, usually means you're too late [ie. sold out].

3.   What you know - Have a pulse in the industry.  You'll need to know cars and an understanding of the market sentiment for each cars.  Which car will be highly desirable
, during and after its release, and which one will appreciate in value quickest and/or highest.  Rareness is usually a key indicator - but not guaranteed [ie. XJ220].

4.   Know your local laws - in some states here in Australia [the US & Europe] car flipping can be illegal.  There is a legal way to do it, but you'll need to know the "ins & outs" to navigate the sea of rules & regulations unscathed.

There are more points to consider before even contemplating becoming a car flipper.  I've only highlighted the most important ones.

As for me, [let's just say for a moment, I had the means to buy these cars] I am too much of a car guy to be a car flipper.  As anything I buy I'll almost certain to end up keeping.  What can I say?... I just love GREAT cars - even some quirky ones.

Koenigsegg One:1
NOTE:  I didn't include hypercar royalty on this list such as the Bugatti Veyron & Chiron, Pagani Zonda & Huayra, Koenigsegg One:1 & Agera RS, Lamborghini Veneno, & Centenario, Ferrari LaFerrari, Porsche Carrera RS & 918 Spyder, and the McLaren P1 [and all its variants], as these are almost guaranteed to be collectables.
Bugatti Chiron
And since they already start for serious money to begin with [even for supercar buyers], to make serious returns will require time.  Turn over is what car flippers want.  A quick ROI.  And these hypercars are not a short term investment.  Best gains are made long term for these models.

Plus I doubt professional car flippers will even get on the waiting list, let alone order books.  Not while the manufacturers are keeping an eagle eye on the buyer's list.

Pagani Huayra
McLaren P1
Pagani Zonda Cinque
2007 Porsche Carrera GT
2013 Lamborghini Veneno
Porsche 918 Spyder
Ferrari LaFerrari
Lamborghini Centenario LP-770-4

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