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The Strict Rules of Ferrari Ownership: You Don’t Choose, Ferrari Chooses You
“This is where the Ferrari world is kind of like the Vatican. It's very mysterious. There are a lot of trinkets you have to wear, and a lot of rings you have to kiss,” millionaire and passionate Ferrarista Robert Herjavec says of the experience of buying a limited-edition Ferrari.

The Strict Rules of Ferrari Ownership: You Don’t Choose, Ferrari Chooses You

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Hollywood and certain urban legends have taught us that owning a Ferrari is either a mid-life male cliché or the epitome of kitsch, the mark of the nouveau riche with too much money and too little taste. In reality, Ferrari ownership is an entirely different beast from anything else in the auto world.

The Ferrari buying experience is unlike a regular car buying experience. You don’t just walk into a dealership, hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) in your account or wallet, and drive off in one of the marque’s cars. If we’re talking about a limited edition series, things tend to get even more complicated.

Ferrari ownership is strictly controlled by Ferrari, from the moment you do decide on buying a car to that in which, already in possession of it, you must make considerations to purchase another one. To put it simply (and to paraphrase Herjavec in a 2014 Wired interview), you don’t choose Ferrari, Ferrari chooses you. And usually, you feel lucky to be part of the privileged few.

Getting to enjoy the “epitome of motor technology today” (also Herjavec’s words) is regulated by a strict set of rules, which have made the object of many a think-piece and heated debates online. The exact nature of these rules is mostly inferred from fine print on bill of sales and the brouhaha that accompanies the release of limited edition vehicles.

Without pretending to offer an exhaustive list, here are some of the Ferrari rules all new (and old) owners must abide without fail. Thorough background check
As said before, you don’t just walk into a Ferrari dealership and expect to drive off in a new car off the lot, no matter how stacked your wallet is with cash. If we’re talking about a limited-edition car, you can forget about walking into the dealership to get it: there’s an entire process to even be considered for that, and we’ll discuss it later.

While most dealerships will run a credit check on you to make sure you can afford payments on the car you’re about to take from them, Ferrari goes beyond that. Rumor has it that men over 40 are preferred, with no history of incidents and with a good reputation. Because just having money doesn’t make you good enough to be seen at the wheel of a Ferrari. Can’t sell in the first year, can’t sell without notice
Read the fine print, always. Ferrari likes to maintain control over its cars even after selling them, and it does that by either barring the owner from selling in the first year or forcing them to inform the marque before selling. Both options are made to discourage owners from flipping cars for profit, which would be considerable in the case of limited editions, and to get them to actually drive the cars.

Ferrari frowns upon showoffs, those people who buy cars for bragging rights and with no intention of actually driving them. Ferrari also likes to have the option of taking back the car, should the owner want to part with it. No Lamborghinis
The Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry goes a long way back and it’s still as bitter today as it was then. If reports are accurate, Ferrari bars car collectors who also happen to have at least one Lambo from getting on VIP lists for its limited edition cars, no matter how many Ferraris they’ve also bought. Don’t mess with the car, don’t cover the badge, don’t do drastic alterations
Each car Ferrari delivers or sells is perfect as-is. If you’re a VIP client, you can visit the factory in Maranello and get every thing about your next car customized to your liking, for what is most likely an outrageous sum. If not, the Ferrari is still perfect, so the marque frowns upon modifications that stand out.

If you do get to own a Ferrari, you’re not allowed to tamper (in any shape or form) with the engine, do bodywork modifications, crazy paintjobs (no pink, rose or salmon are allowed) or do anything that covers the Ferrari badge. On the same note of “not tampering,” all maintenance work and repairs has to go through Ferrari, be done with Ferrari parts or the warranty will be voided. And you will mostly likely land yourself on the blacklist. Visit the Maranello factory, be a celebrity
In the case of customized Ferraris, having a high profile works to your advantage. As long as you’re not an influencer or some insanely popular but highly criticized reality star, you’re welcome to visit the Maranello factory and pick your favorite, meet with the engineers and get the Ferrari of your dreams.

However, neither being a celebrity nor visiting the factory will help you get on the VIP list for limited editions. David Lee and Preston Henn seemed like sure fits for the LaFerrari Aperta but still got denied from being on the waiting list, for reasons Ferrari wouldn’t disclose even under threat of impending litigation from Henn. Become a part of the family and act like it. Also, buy more Ferraris
Buying your first Ferrari is only the beginning. As Enzo used to say, the perfect model is always the next one, and this also applies to Ferrari ownership. Once you become part of the family, you will receive invites to Ferrari events and gatherings you wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and you’re expected to attend, mingle and act like you’re a true Ferrarista.

At the same time, you’re expected to buy more than just one car. To even be considered as a potential VIP client, you must own at least four of them, word online has it. Don’t badmouth the marque, don’t be too flashy
Another sure way to get yourself in the crosshairs with Ferrari is to speak against the marque, even if you’re right. Automotive journalist Chris Harris did it, as did rapper 50 Cent, and they had legitimate reasons to do so, and they ended up on the Ferrari blacklist.

The same goes for being too flashy. Do anything that goes against the unwritten Ferrari code, be it with your driving history or the way you present yourself on social media, and you will get banned from buying another Ferrari and be served with a cease and desist. Good luck getting on the VIP list. Also, Ferrari is always right!
While getting a standard Ferrari is difficult, getting a limited edition one is nearly impossible for regular mortals. These rare cars usually sell out long before the public even learns of their existence, and getting on a waiting list is the kind of process that can make even hardened, reputed millionaires worry about their worth.

Cliches like “the client is always right” and “money can buy everything” don’t work here. Ferrari decides who gets a new car and Ferrari doesn’t even have to justify that decision.

“People assume that it's a financial decision, whoever has more money gets one. The reality is... they use it as a reward for people who are loyal to the brand,” Herjavec explained in the same Wired interview. “The funny thing is, you never really know if you're getting one until you're actually getting one.”

“This is where the Ferrari world is kind of like the Vatican. It's very mysterious. There are a lot of trinkets you have to wear, and a lot of rings you have to kiss,” he adds.

But once you’ve been put through hell and once you’re done kissing all the rings, getting your dream car – a LaFerrari, in Herjavec’s case – is unlike anything else. “It's the most beautiful thing ever created by human hands. It's that beautiful to me. I never go into the garage and see the Ferraris and not smile. Never. I could be having the worst day in the world, I see that car and it makes me smile,” he says.

And that best explains Ferrari’s appeal to the elites, despite the rules, the controlling ways, the bans and the lack of transparency in the entire pre- and post-ownership process.

 
 
 
 
 

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