italian corporate sports cars

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There was once a time when all the great italian supercar makers (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, OSCA, Siata, Bizzarini, etc.) were all independents, making no more than a few dozen cars per year. In our modern world, however, all these makes are either dead or the property of major corporate empires. Lamborghini is part of the VW conglomerate, and both Ferrari and Maserati have now come under the ownership of Fiat.

However, Fiat is now in serious financial trouble and rumors arise as to the potential sale of Maserati to VW, and an uncertain future for Ferrari. A small fraction The Prancing Horse's stock has been bought out by Arab businessmen, and the company has spent millions developing new models and technologies, highlighted by the launch of 5 new models (F360, 612, Enzo, F430, 599) since 2000. Maybe perhaps it is appropiate to question whether Ferrari has been allowed to overextend itself, considering the dire financial straits its parent, Fiat is going through.

If Maserati is sold to VW, yes it will join the supercar-building juggernaut that includes Bentley, Lamborghini, and Bugatti, but does that mean the Italian maker's individuality will be compromised. Many people who buy Italian exotics buy them for that reason: they are Italian exotics. Could German ownership of Maserati mean the incorporation of such "German" attributes as complex AWD systems and jam-packed electronic gizmos? Bentley already has benefitted from such technology as W engines and AWD, but Bentley and Maserati are different cars which appeal to different customers.

One way to study the potential fate of Maserati is to look at Lamborghini. Many have critized the Murcielago and Gallardo's styling as plain and too subtle in the face of their outrageous predecessors. According to the famed tradition, Lamborghinis were never user-friendly; they were challenging to drive and own. Now, Mucielago and Gallardo by comparison are nearly daily-driveable. This can be used to build a case that perhaps the Raging Bull has lost its soul.

The VW Groups financial trouble at present also poses another situation for the two Italian carmakers. Such cars as the Veyron, Continental GT, and Murcielago LP640 cost millions to develop and make, in a time when VW Golf sales are at a severe low. Most likely, if VW is unable to handle such high-end makers, they will probably be forced to sell them. But who would be willing and able to assume the massive financial costs required for exotic makers?

As the near-future unfolds, many potentially depressing questions wait to be answered. Will Ferrari collapse under its own weight and lack of funding from its parent? Will Maserati just become a glitzy Audi? Will Lamborghini loose its soul and perhaps many customers to "Teutonic Precision"? Of course, no one wants a "yes" answer to any of these disturbing questions.

In the end, perhaps the root of it all is that as the three great Italian exotic makers wander more towards near mass-production, the deeper they drive themselves to the pressures of mass-production, which Enzo, Fubriccio, and the Maserati brothers never intended their fine machines to endure.

posted by  omegaV12

look at Rolls Royce, BMW in ownership but still british in design and quality!!!

(i only read the first part up to where you say bentley already benefits from W engines etc)

posted by  True_Brit

Ferrari is no where near financial trouble.

Most people appreciate VW's influence on Lamborghini. The Gallardo is considered by many to be the highest quality Lamborghini ever made. These people have experience, and they understand more than you the importance of a supercar's brand image. Unless customers request a change, Lamborghini won't stray too far away from its wild image.

Don't panic.

posted by  What

^i agree, where on earth did you get the idea of ferrari in financial trouble from? id say they are raking in the money from racing, car sales etc
ferrari are getting more popular now, theres 2 in plymouth now!!! :laughing:

posted by  True_Brit

down in az, we were selling like almost 2-3 a week... may not sound like a lot for a car dealership, but remember, it isnt a honda dealership...

posted by  mazda6man

oh, and on the service spectrum, theyre makin a lot of money... dam things always break down, and they cost an arm and a leg to get fixed

posted by  mazda6man

yes ferrari is doing very well now i will admit. however, the race team also has to pay for its cars, drivers, etc, and they are lucky their run in the past few years has been quite good. However, although Ferrari is doing very well NOW, we have to consider input for the future. so many new models means that more and more money is being spent, and in such a still-limited market, if one model is not the landmark success it is designed to be, then that may effect the whole chain. Ferrari itself is not in financial trouble, but its parent, Fiat, is somewhat. in this rather dog-eat-dog modern auto industry, such a limited-volume maker like Ferrari needs a smooth cash flow, or be forced to jack up the (already expensive) prices of its cars.

posted by  omegaV12

may i include im not pro-ferrari, i dont actually like them!
not my sort of car but if i was offered one, i wouldnt say no, id sell it straight away!

posted by  True_Brit

How old are you?

One model will not destroy the company. The Scaglietti didn't sell well at all. You know what they did with the chassis? Applied a better selling, 599 Fiorano frame. They also saved money by using the Enzo's engine design.

Unless a complete engine/chassis construction from Ferrari is rejected by customers, I don't see Ferrari losing business anytime soon. Mostly everything is being built for multiple applications.

posted by  What

612 is a machine and a half though...

posted by  mazda6man

That makes no sense.
What are you talking about?

posted by  What

what do i mean??
its a badass ride, homie

posted by  mazda6man

Yes, to drive I'm sure. But to look at...ugh.

posted by  What

only thing i dont like is its front engine, but that v12, shieeet. and yes, believe me. its fun to drive

posted by  mazda6man

i dont think there is a need for you to insult my age. on the contrary, i dont think you are seeing my point at all. Yes Ferrari is doing very well, but its financially sheltered by the intense competition. Do you honestly think Ferrari would survive completely independent? Ferrari's are not the finances in issue. Its parent company, Fiat, is running through financial trouble right now. If Fiat has to keep putting money into Ferrari, which seems to make more and more new models, then Fiat suffers as a result. Note how i mentioned the sale of a large fraction of Ferrari stock to a group of Arab businessmen. Its not an issue as to whether Ferrari can survive, i think it will, its more an issue as to if the main Italian automaker (Fiat) can afford it anymore.

posted by  omegaV12

by the way, i usually stump hardcore car enthusiasts several times my age.

posted by  omegaV12

It sounds like you're a legend in your own mind. :roll:

posted by  vwhobo

no i just give things like this more thought. building such cars is very risky from a financial standpoint. thats probably one of the main points of the thread

posted by  omegaV12

I dont know exactly how old you are but I used to think the same way
I eventually sat back and realized theres still a huge load of stuff to learn

posted by  nighthawk

Just an FYI, no car company makes money from racing, directly. it is ALWAYS a cost, and comes from the advertising/R&D budget. If they don't sell cars, they can't go racing. That's true for pretty much any car company. Only companies that SELL racing cars to customes make money off of racing.

posted by  ChrisV

But you will agree that racing cars and on the racetracks and winning, helps sell cars in the showroom.

posted by  elchango36

So does paying for advertising during the Superbowl. But it's not a DIRECT way of making money, like putting the product in the hands of the customer.

The racing budget is an advertising cost, except when developing a new car, in which case it's an R&D cost. It ALWAYS costs money to go racing, even when you win. that's why companies like Porsche and Ferrari started building street cars: to pay for racing. And since winning races generated interest in the street cars, it was a nice circle to be in. Lamborghini felt that racing was a cost they could do without.

posted by  ChrisV

^I'll agree to that i suppose!^

posted by  True_Brit

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