Opinion

Weekly Rant: Cars That Sell Out Before They Are Even Revealed

What's the point of a dream car if the dream isn't even possible?

Tell us if you've heard this story before? Automaker unveils limited edition model for the most exclusive customers, only X number will be built, and don't even try to place an order because they are already sold out. This is becoming such a common practice that we are frankly sick of writing about it. It almost begs the question, why even announce a car to the public if it is already sold out?

The whole point of supercars and hypercars is to give people something to dream about and aspire to. But if they are sold out before being revealed, then surely the dream has died before it begins?

We don't want to pick on any one manufacturer for this practice, because it happens across the industry with limited edition cars. It's understandable that automakers want to build a handful of halo cars that will help increase the prestige of their brand while rewarding their most loyal customers, but the good intentions of automakers are repeatedly taken advantage of when the mere right to purchase the car is traded for personal gain.

Take the Aston Martin Valkyrie and Mercedes Project One as prime examples. Mercedes will only build 250 examples of the Project One and Aston will only build 150 examples of the Valkyrie. Each car costs several million dollars to buy, understandably so due to their performance and rarity. Most people would be happy just to have the ability to hand over millions of their dollars for either car, but some people want even more.

Even though neither car has been officially revealed, build slots have already been sold out and we've seen examples of both come up for resale. Someone already tried to sell their Project One build slot for $5.23 million, nearly double the car's $2.63 million asking price. The Valkyrie was even worse, with one flipper asking for nearly $13 million for their build slot on Twitter.

Automakers are rewarding customers for their loyalty only to be stabbed in the back by those who are only interested in flipping it for a quick, albeit large, buck. Not interested in owning a once-in-a-generation hypercar? Then allow some other well-to-do enthusiast who will love the car and treat it right to take their place without having to pay extra.

Some automakers have attempted to circumvent flippers by forcing customers to sign a contract that prevents them from selling the car within a certain period of time. Ford has one of these contracts for the GT and Mercedes even has one for the Project One to prevent customers from flipping their cars - clearly, both contracts were complete failures because we've seen GTs and Project One build slot comes up for resale. Ford even screened people for the right to buy a GT and several owners have already found a way around the contract to sell their cars.

The result of building extremely limited edition cars are prices that are being driven to insane levels. A Ford GT for $450,000 sounds fairly reasonable to us, but a $1.1 million dollar GT surpasses the limits of common sense. By limiting the number of cars produced, automakers are artificially creating a demand and driving prices to stratospheric levels they don't benefit from themselves.

When a car is flipped for silly money, the automaker doesn't see a dime of it. They still charge the same price and the owner reaps the reward from the high demand. The number of wealthy buyers seems to be growing and the wealth gap increases, so automakers should be smart and build as many cars as they can sell.

Dealerships have even become wise to these limited edition cars, selling them with a "market adjustment" that's essentially pure profit for them. Dealer markups will be another rant, as this is a related issue that we could complain about in great detail. When it comes to the truly limited cars (less than 1,000 units), we are tired of hearing press releases with the words "already sold out." We hate seeing cars that will hardly be driven go to owners who only care about how much they will appreciate, so we have a solution.

We would never tell automakers to stop building ultra-limited edition cars, but we'd love to see more models slotted right below them to help pass the shine of those halo models onto the people. Take the Porsche 911 R for example - when it first arrived, flippers were getting over $1 million for a car that cost less than $200,000 to buy from Porsche. Sure the 911 R was special, but paying over five times the MSRP for one was frankly insane. Now 911 R prices have fizzled out and are currently selling in the $300,000 range. High, but an acceptable figure. So what do we have to thank for the 911 R's tumble in price? The GT3 Touring, of course.

Porsche diehards will tell you that the 911 R and the GT3 Touring are not the same car, despite each being a manual transmission, 4.0-liter flat-six powered car with 500 horsepower. Surprisingly, those diehards are correct because the two cars are indeed different but are similar enough to make people question spending so much on the R.

Porsche has cracked the code here. Instead of building more of the limited edition car, just build a car that is similar enough without putting a limit on its production. This may be a bit trickier in the case of the Aston Martin Valkyrie and Mercedes Project One, but McLaren could easily release an LT version of the 720S to slot between it and the $1 million Senna. So the next time an automaker announces a car that is already sold out, we hope to see a slightly tamer version that follows suit that us "normal people" can actually buy.

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