Yet sure-fire bets can easily turn to disappointment. Take, for example, the 1986 Ferrari Testarossa—an enduring 1980s icon thanks to its prominence on the hit TV series Miami Vice. One of the two models actually used on that show resurfaced for auction in 2014 after having been privately stored for 24 years, just as general interest in Testarossas was on the rise. In pristine condition, this vehicle had only 16,500 miles on the odometer, was certified by Ferrari of North America as Ferrari Classiche—a designation that deems it historically significant—and possessed all the paperwork necessary to back up its storied provenance, including the original title from Universal Studios and factory blueprints. News of the car’s sale drew widespread media coverage and numerous bids, some reportedly more than $1 million. And yet, after two years and four auction attempts, it remained unsold. Auction house Barrett-Jackson finally placed the car in its Scottsdale show in January 2017, expecting it to fetch an ambitious $1.5 million. It sold for $151,800.
While we may never know how the seller fared in the sale, the auction’s result seems paltry when compared against that model’s original retail price of $135,000. The problem there, offers Punia, could be the relatively high production of Testarossas—more than 7,000 were built between 1985 and 1991—as well as just bad timing. “There’s always volatility,” he says. Nevertheless, today museum-quality Testarossas, according to Hagerty, have risen in value to $215,000—and that’s without the television pedigree.
This is all to say that, while no one can truly predict which direction the market will take, there are always opportunities. It’s quite possible that the new owner of the Miami Vice car could sell their asset for twice the purchase price, maybe more, if they time their sale correctly. But at the end of the day, they likely bought it because it spoke to them. Being a fully invested collector—consumed by the thrill of each purchase and truly enjoying car ownership—may just be the best path to successful investments. “Buying a car is an irrational, emotional thing. It’s an experience,” Punia says—a sentiment that Craig Jackson shares. “It has to turn your crank and you must have a personal interest in it.” ✈