Gated Community: Do converted-manual Ferraris get the same respect?
For decades, the act of driving a Ferrari has always brought with it some expectations. An urgent, glorious sound, usually from a front-mounted V-12 or a V-8 behind the seats. A view over the dashboard that conjured the potential for serious speed. And a manual shifter emerging from that hallmark gate, its distinctive click resonating every time you selected the next gear. Then, about 20 years ago, Ferrari began relegating that last part—the manual transmission—to the dust bin. No surprise, collectors now highly value those last cars with the old-school gearbox, which for so long was integral to the driving experience long associated with the brand.
But is that shifter really why those cars are more valuable? Let’s take a look.
The sunset for manual Ferraris began at the race track. Inspired by the system on its Formula One cars (introduced for the 1989 season), the initial road-going F1 transmission incorporated the same single-clutch setup but used a new interface. It did away with the clutch pedal, open shift gate, and gear lever. In their place were shift paddles behind the steering wheel to select the gear and a computer that managed an actuator for the clutch. Debuting on the 1997 F355, the F1 transmission gained acceptance in the market and eventually became the most popular choice for changing gears.
Cars like the 1999–2005 Ferrari 360, the 2002–2006 Ferrari 575M, the 2005–2011 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, the 2005–2009 Ferrari F430, the 2007–2011 Ferrari 599 GTB, and the 2009–2014 Ferrari California all featured some mix of manual and F1 transmissions. In some cases, though, like the 599 and the California, less than 1 percent of production had a manual.
The Hagerty Price Guide distinguishes the value of the manual transmission for these models, except for the California. For each, as the F1 transmission becomes more common and the manual transmission increasingly rare, premium for the manual grows.
Early in the transition, an F355 model with the manual is worth one-third more. On the succeeding 360 model, the manual can be worth one-third to 50 percent more, and for the F430, the rare manual car can be worth twice as much. Among the V-12s, the 575M was the first model to get the F1, and a manual 575M is worth 125 percent more. A manual 612 Scaglietti is not far behind, at 120 percent more. Though the exceptionally rare (30 built) manual-transmission 599 GTB has a price guide note of +$150K (~60 percent), some manual 599s have sold for approximately 250 percent more in the past year. Even fewer Ferrari Californias were built with a manual, but we don’t yet have a pricing note for those in the guide.
Enthusiasts saw the price difference between the two and realized that the cost of converting a car with an F1 transmission to one with an open-gate manual was less than the gap in values. Consequently, more cars are being converted and appearing on the market. But how does the market value those converted cars?
Ten examples of converted cars have sold (most were F430s, but 430 Scuderia and 599 GTB models sold as well) at auction in the past year. Comparing those prices to the Hagerty Price Guide condition-appropriate value (for the F1-equipped cars) at the time of the auction shows a 9.4 percent average discount and a median discount of 5.3 percent. Needless to say, that’s far less than the 100 percent premium for a factory-built manual transmission F430.
For a bit of additional context, manual conversions aren’t unique to Ferraris from this era. BMW’s E46 M3 is not nearly as rare or valuable as a contemporary Ferrari, but it’s still a strong enthusiast choice, and SMG automatic-equipped versions are increasingly the targets of conversion. Of the 15 transactions of manual-swapped E46 M3s for which we have data, the average condition-appropriate difference to a factory-equipped manual transmission car is +2.5 percent. In contrast to Ferrari, the BMW market appears to value the type of transmission rather than where and when it was installed.
Why converted Ferraris don’t get the same prices as factory-built manual transmission cars, or even the prices of the F1 automatic models they once were, could be due to several factors. Perhaps Ferrari collectors value the rarity of a factory-built manual over the driving experience. Certainly, the high prices paid for zero-mile Ferraris support the idea that collecting, rather than driving, is the primary objective. Another consideration is that modifications are unpopular in the Ferrari world.
Where does that leave the converted cars? At the discounted rate they’re selling for, such cars are a great opportunity for Ferrari fans who prioritize driving over static originality. What would you do with a manual-transmission Ferrari?
Want a better understanding of what’s driving collector car values? Sign up for the Hagerty Insider newsletter.