@Al_S has seen an increasing number of Ferrari replicas on the road. Which ponders the question? What sort of person actually buys one...

What is it that possesses an individual to part with a not inconsiderable sum of cash to buy a car that once came off a manufacturer’s production line proudly intact, then later in life found itself in some darkly-lit shed with all the good bits removed and replaced with ill-fitting panels that could have been hand-moulded and stuck on by a 5-year old on a sugar-high? The murky world of the replica Ferrari owner is a perplexing one for any real petrolhead to fully understand.

Most of us love a Ferrari, who doesn’t? Some would only ever own a prancing horse in the traditional red, others may opt for the more understated black or silver/greys, but one thing is certain – 99% of us would only ever buy the real thing. Owning a Ferrari is about the whole experience – the noise, the drama, the handling, the achievement – it’s an event each time you go for a drive. Others relish seeing and hearing a Ferrari out on the open road; people admire the cars, so what happens when they spot a fake?

In all the years replica Ferraris have been around, I have yet to see one example of a 360 Modena that could fool anyone who is into cars. And that prompts the question, who actually buys these cars, and why? They can’t be buying a replica expecting to fool true car enthusiasts, likewise if they are buying to impress the general public it will be lost on most who have zero interest in cars other than as a mode of transport, and they can’t be buying one because it sounds / handles / performs like a Ferrari – because it doesn’t.

Then there’s the finish – someone somewhere at some point has looked at the final design drawings and gone ‘Yes, nailed it! Put that into production’. Yet when complete, these replicas somehow look like they’ve spent time on a torture rack with random sections of bodywork unnaturally stretched, panel gaps visible from space, arches too wide to accommodate suspiciously narrow wheels, and a ride height guaranteed to generate a double-take for all the wrong reasons. So who in their right mind would actually part with their hard-earned cash for such a vehicle?

The paranoia alone would kill me. Imagine every time you go out for a drive and someone glances over whilst sat at traffic lights, are they thinking ‘nice Ferrari’ or ‘what the hell is that meant to be?’ People taking photos with their phones - are they believing it is a genuine supercar or are they uploading it onto social media for a laugh? When you break down (which you will), what are the recovery guys and Toyota garage going to think? Replica owners who also elect to fashion a Ferrari keyring with their MR2 key are an even rarer breed amongst themselves, can you imagine putting your keys down on a restaurant table with the Ferrari badge clearly on show, only to have your replica parked outside the front of the building? What if your waiter is a car guy and has already clocked it’s a fake and starts asking you about your Ferrari whilst taking the order? Will he bring you the rump steak instead of the fillet hoping you won’t notice either? Your partner is an accessory to the crime too – they know your dirty little secret and have to play along. The underlying guilt would eat away at me; I’d have to ask for a doggy bag and leave.

It’s also the excessive use of badges I’ll never understand; almost everyone will know it’s a replica so why go through the suffering of attaching Ferrari badges on everything from the fake air vents to the glove box? A lack of badges at least points to a form of subtleness acknowledging you know what you own isn’t the real deal, but where the owner insists on a full complement of Ferrari badges and matching embellishments they have to expect judgement from genuine car enthusiasts, even if they’ve chosen to identify as a real Ferrari now it’s 2021.

It’s one thing buying a replica Ferrari, trying to sell it must be absolutely horrendous. Firstly the resale market must be extremely small, but more worryingly imagine the type of people you’ll get enquiring to buy it. The photos only ever show certain angles – a bit like an Instagram model - and the adverts always say ‘best example on the market’, I’d very much hate to see the worst...

Some replicas however do manage a good job at evocating the original - cars such as the Pilgrim Sumo, DAX Tojeiro, and Chesil Speedster all come to mind. They’ll never match the original, but most car enthusiasts appear more comfortable with what those companies have created, perhaps because they are based on cars of a by-gone era rather than trying to emulate a much more recent and recognisable design, or maybe it’s because the Ferrari brand has such a strong and loyal following, people simply refuse to accept a lame donkey dressed up as a prancing horse.