Andy Reid
Andy Reid HalfDork
4/28/08 7:56 p.m.

Ferrari. No other word so inspires the emotions of sports car enthusiasts. For more than 70 years, the Ferrari name has been synonymous with racing, performance and style. Ferrari is like Cartier, Tiffany and Rolex—brand names that signify the top level of desirability.

Despite the reverence held for the Ferrari name and all of the recent articles in mainstream automotive magazines proclaiming these cars to be suitable only for the rich and beautiful, there are a number of Ferrari models that can be had for prices that are readily understandable to those of us who live in the real world. How real? How about a nice Ferrari for the cost of a new Mazda or Mercedes-Benz coupe?

A Ferrari for Me? While there are Ferraris that cost megabucks to own and maintain, there are some deals out there. We have picked five models that now represent terrific values; these cars also span a great deal of the Ferrari model range, from '60s classics to more modern machinery. We even have a wild card pick for those who like to think outside the box.

As with any other collector car, you should spend your money and buy the best car available, not the best car you can afford. There are no bargain buys on these cars. Anyone selling a Ferrari in good condition knows what it's worth. If you can't afford a good example of a specific model, then either wait until you can or choose a car that matches your budget.

Also, insist on buying a car with a well-documented maintenance history. This is the only way that you will know if and when claimed work was performed. A car with records is a bit harder to find, but taking the time and money to find one will save you money in the future.

"One thing to insist on is to get the records with the car," says John Weinberger of Continental AutoSports, a Chicago-area dealership that specializes in Ferraris. He recommends "eliminating any car without records. The benefits of a car with records let you know that all services were complete and makes you closer to the car as an owner."

While finding the right Ferrari may sound like a bit of a challenge, all of the cars on our list offer a real Ferrari experience and deliver a tremendous amount of exotic car value. Unlike most any similarly priced new car, the ones on our list should even appreciate over time. In fact, you might get lucky and be able to make a buck or two when the time comes to sell. We wouldn't plan on financing our retirement this way, but it can certainly be a nice benefit of ownership.

To make things a little more interesting, we have also presented a new car alternative for each Ferrari on our list. These cars may not wear a prancing horse on their noses, but they are similar to the Ferrari in both price and type. (Sometimes seeing a new car alternative helps put that classic's price into perspective.)

First, a Disclaimer There's one negative aspect of Ferrari ownership that you may already know about: Service costs can be expensive. If our service estimates seem kind of high or you have a friend who disagrees with us, please take it to heart that a Ferrari is not in any way a car that you can skimp on.

Anything that you put off or neglect will come back and can end up costing double, triple or quadruple what the original fix would have run. According to Gary Kral, the service manager at Continental AutoSports, the older the car, the more issues it will tend to have.

While a major service on a 308 or 328 can cost as little as $3500, rarely is that all a car needs at service time. The bill will usually be a few dollars more. Likewise, the major service for a Testarossa can cost as much as $8500, and this is also before the extras that are found during those services. What would be nickel and dime items on your average Porsche or BMW can end up costing hundreds of dollars on a Ferrari.

These are cars where a distributor cap costs anywhere between $250 and $500, and where an alternator can cost well over $1500. Don't look for deals for generic parts on eBay, either. These cars need to have the correct parts in order to operate to spec. While many people claim that Ferraris can be serviced by their owners, unless you are a trained and experienced mechanic and have the necessary tools, this is, in reality, not practical.

Okay, with that out of the way, here's the fun stuff: our list.

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