Supercars come in all different flavors. Multiple engine configurations, various seating arrangements, transmission types, and so on. Single out the one that fits you best.
In this series of guides we will make the assumption that you have a measure of familiarity with purchasing a car, be it at a brick-and-mortar dealership or online. Similarly we will assume you know, for instance, what a Carfax is as well as you are knowledgeable of its advantages and faults.
Lastly, we will make the necessary assumption that you are buying this car to drive it, and not to flip it. As you will see, in this series we talk about cars that are generally considered to have “high-mileage” (an urban legend that we will dispel) and are likely to have a few blemishes, either aesthetically, mechanically or both. In general, this type of cars are referred to as “drivers” and are diametrically opposite from collectible status. This, in turn, makes the prospect of flipping them for a profit quite unlikely. Not impossible, but highly improbable.
“Be sure you balance the type of supercar you will be searching for with its future intended use as well as your personal preference. Once you decide which vehicle configuration you should pursue then you can better narrow the makes and models you will be on the hunt for. ”
In summary, we will be looking for a pre-owned supercar with more miles than collectors like to see, and quite possibly a few bruises and maybe repainted areas, which are also a big no-no for collectors. But let collectors amass their spotless specimens for premium prices while we enjoy driving amazing supercars at a fraction of their original cost. In a sense, without exotic car collectors and their self-imposed rules supercar values would be way out of range for The Rest of Us. Hail the car collector!
And now let's move on with our program.
Which Type is Right for You?
The first step is to ask yourself which supercar variation would work best for you, also based on the considerations shared in the previous article titled “Yes You Can”. Thus, for instance: are you planning to use your supercar almost exclusively on the track (be careful, maintaining an exotic for track use can be scary expensive) or are you single and love driving fast? Then you should consider a rear or mid-engine two-seater configuration. Do you have a family with small children and are you planning to use the car also to go places together – at least sometimes? Then you should give some thought to a front-engine GT, with a 2+2 seating arrangement. Some supercars with a back seat can accommodate children or small adults with a reasonable degree of comfort, at least for relatively short trips.
Another item that needs to be sorted out ahead of time is whether you prefer to drive a manual shifting or a semi-manual/automatic car. This is an entirely personal decision and, if you have made it this far into this magazine it's quite likely you already know the pros and cons of each transmission type. Keep in mind that in many cases a manual shifting transmission commands a premium over its counterpart, as well as the service and maintenance costs associated with semi-manual/automatic transmissions can be higher than for manuals. On the other hand, manual transmissions supercars are more difficult to find and later models tend to come exclusively as manu-matics.
Match Your Lifestyle with the Exotic You are Dreaming About
Also, is this vehicle going to be your daily driver? Seriously, exotics can be driven daily and serve, depending on various circumstances such as weather and so on, as one's only vehicle. This isn't a great idea for those who live in cold climates with lots of snow, but can be considered if living in states like Florida, Arizona, etc. I have seen Ferraris fitted with roof-mounted bike racks: some owners make a point of using their supercar for every aspect of their life, while some other drive it daily wondering why they should ever drive a lesser car.
Lastly, does your heart skip a beat when thinking about a certain car maker? For instance, I was born and raised in Italy and I grew up around Ferraris and Maseratis. Not because I lived a privileged life as an adolescent, but because that's what many people drove around there. One could say that those two brands are in my DNA – as it were – and when I started looking for my own supercar I knew I had to pay particular attention to those two brands. If you have a similar predisposition, be it because of childhood memories or other circumstances you'd be well served by following it, lest you'll regret not buying the brand of your dreams. And, as we'll see later, this could be an expensive mistake.
So Many Variables... So Many Supercars
The variables in this equation are many, but you understand what we are getting to here: be sure you balance the type of supercar you will be searching for with its future intended use as well as your personal preference. Once you decide which vehicle configuration you should pursue then you can better narrow the makes and models you will be on the hunt for.
Once you have a good understanding of what supercar configuration you are looking for it's time to find which manufacturers actually make them. Rear engine, two-seater, all-wheel drive? Porsche 911 Turbo or one of its variants. Front-engine, 2+2 seater, manu-matic? Ferrari 456, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, Aston Martin DB7 or DB9 – to name a few. This is definitely one of the fun parts of looking for your supercar: but be careful to look for models whose price range is within your budget. Again, more on this later: for now suffice to say that a quick eBay Motors or cars.com search can give you at least a general idea of the price range for each model you may be considering. Look for the highest price and the lowest price in your search results, average them out and you'll be able to extrapolate the general price level you are likely to pay for your own supercar – it's more art than science, but at least you'll know if you are shooting too high or too low.
This forum is also a very good place for this type of conversations: post up your questions and observations so that you can receive feedback from the Affordable Supercar collective. As for this set of guides, we will cover all the necessary next steps in the following articles.