Ferrari is so far beyond a luxury car company. Owning one or more of their cars is tantamount to joining an elite club – one where the price of entry is hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more). It should come as no surprise, then, that the company wants to control and maintain their image of exclusivity. What is shocking is the ways in which they seek to do so.

When you purchase a product, whether it’s a designer outfit, a work of art, or a high-end sports car, you naturally expect that you can do with it as you wish. After all, you paid the price for ownership. If you want to rip your couture gown to shreds or draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa, owning it gives you the right, although you probably don’t want to devalue such precious and historical items.

Cars, however, are a different story. They’re made to be customized. Sure, they all come with roughly the same parts: engine, chassis, body, and so on. However, you can get leather seats in an array of colors, you can paint the body any shade you like, and you can add and customize to your heart’s content until you have the mode of transportation that perfectly suits your wants and needs.

Or can you? With Ferrari, it’s not a matter of money. The company is so concerned with maintaining its brand and reputation that there are actually contractual caveats in place to stop owners from doing certain things with the cars they buy. Can Ferrari actually stop you from customizing your car? What about selling it? Here’s what you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.

Ferrari Customization
Sure, Ferrari red is nice, but everyone has that color. What if you want your car to be bubbly Barbie pink or sinister flat black? All you have to do is take it to a paint shop to get the new look, right? As it turns out, getting your way could be harder than you think. Just ask famed EDM DJ Deadmau5 (aka Joel Zimmerman).

While Ferrari offers a personalization program for buyers that allows them to customize every detail, from paint colors and rims, to textiles and even stitching, you’re still limited to the options they offer. Deadmau5 had different plans for his 458 Italia, which he transformed from a Ferrari to a Purrari, including a “Purrari” license plate, custom badges and floor mats, and the pièce de résistance, a vinyl wrap featuring Nyan cat, the famous internet sensation comprised of a cartoon pop-tart-cat trailing a rainbow in its wake.

The DJ apparently customized his vehicle for the Gumball 3000 rally, a celebrity sportscar rally that features a spectacle of outrageously embellished vehicles traveling 3,000 miles across Europe. However, Ferrari was none too pleased with the unauthorized changes, and sent Deadmau5 a cease and desist letter to have the alterations reversed.

Right of First Refusal
Aside from taking legal action against buyers who besmirch their beautiful automobiles, Ferrari also has a Right of First Refusal clause written into their purchase agreements, ostensibly to stop buyers from flipping limited run vehicles while Ferrari still has models for sale. Their legal text states that Ferrari vehicles “have frequently appreciated in value, such that used and ‘almost new’ vehicles can be sold at prices substantially in excess of the original Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price”, before adding, “Customer acknowledges that Ferrari and Dealer have a legitimate interest in minimizing speculation”.

In other words, your car might go up in value before you even get it, and Ferrari and its dealers don’t want buyers purchasing cars with the intent of making a quick buck on speedy resale. The contract goes on to state that Ferrari reserves the right of first refusal to buy the car back within 2 years, at no more than original MSRP, should the owner decide to “sell, lease or otherwise transfer possession the vehicle to a third-party”.

Is This Legal?
If you sign the contract, agree to the terms, and purchase and take ownership of the vehicle, there’s nothing to stop you from making a sale, aside from a potential for a lawsuit. Unfortunately, Ferrari has proven that they will take legal action against those who flout the conditions of their contracts.

While you can certainly bemoan the unfairness of this trade-off, especially when you’re paying a quarter of a million dollars or more for a car, the truth is, you know going in what you’re getting, and if you don’t want the restrictions that come with Ferrari ownership, it might be time to look at McLarens or Lambos instead. The company may start singing a different tune when consumers flock to their competitors and sales flag as a result.

Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or trade exotic cars, you’ll find the connections to consumers and dealers you seek at

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