Can You Buy An F1 Car? (Here’s How)

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Most F1 fans have pondered the idea of having their own F1 car at some point. They are such impressive machines, and they’d definitely make a great conversation starter if you had one at your house! But can you actually buy an F1 car?

You can buy an F1 car from various different places, usually auction houses or online auctions. Some private dealers may sell Formula 1 cars too. Prices vary drastically, ranging from tens of thousands for show cars to $5 million or more for working cars driven by famous drivers.

Now you know that you can buy one, but how do you actually go about finding an F1 car that’s for sale? It’s quite a complex process, and it’s also a very expensive one. Below, I take a look at this idea in more detail, and I’ll go through some examples of F1 car purchases too.

How Much Do F1 Cars Cost To Build?

F1 cars cost about $10-$20 million to build, but the overall cost varies a lot depending on different factors. Hundreds of millions of dollars of investment may go into the research and development behind an F1 car, but the $135 million cost cap limits teams in terms of how much they can spend.

Formula 1 is one of the most exciting sports to watch, and it attracts millions of fans every year. One of the reasons it is so exciting and entertaining is because the cars are driving so fast, at speeds of more than 200 mph, and the fans are watching some absolutely cutting-edge technology and some of the most skilled driving on the planet.

All of this technology comes with a cost. This cost can be astronomical. In 2018, Mercedes and Ferrari both spent around $400 million on their cars for that season. Plus, this doesn’t even factor in the running costs throughout the year. These were the two top teams that year, with Mercedes coming out on top and Ferrari settling for second place.

Still A Lot Of Money

However, Haas and Williams, who placed 5th and 10th respectively that year, both spent closer to $150 million. This is still a huge amount of money, and the money is needed if the teams want to perform well throughout the season. Even though there is now a budget cap of $135 million (although it may be adjusted for inflation), teams may still spend over and above that on things that are not included in the budget cap.

So, now that you know how much the teams spend to build the cars, it is obvious that it won’t be cheap to buy one second hand. But before we talk about the prices, we should first consider how you actually go about finding an F1 car to buy.

Are There F1 Cars For Sale?

Some F1 cars are for sale, and you often see cases where they are sold at auctions for high prices ($29.7 million in the most expensive case). The F1 cars you see for sale are often show cars, although many you’ll find in private auctions are cars that have run races, and they’re often owned by (very wealthy) collectors.

The F1 cars you can buy depends on the state of the market at that time, and who is selling. Some show cars – and indeed race driven ones – are released to auctions a few years after they have been taken out of service, so as time goes on, more modern F1 cars will go on sale.

How Much Money Do You Need To Buy An F1 Car?

To buy an F1 car, you may need anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $5 million or more. How much an F1 car costs to buy depends largely on whether or not it was used in a race, and who drove it. The age of the car and the historical significance will also affect the price.

How Do You Buy An F1 Car?

You can buy an F1 car through public and private auctions in most cases, although you may also find some private sellers too. In these cases, the cars on offer are usually older models, and they’re usually not championship or even race winning cars, but they still go for $100,000+.

As with any luxury good, it is quite difficult to find what you need unless you know where to look. Auctions are your best bet when it comes to old racing cars, as they tend to end up in the hands of groups rather than people. By this I mean that companies or auction agencies buy the luxury goods, in this case an F1 car, and then sell it at an event to the highest bidder.

Online Auctions

These auctions don’t just take place at real events however, as they can often take place online as well. In the modern era, this is the most common way to get your hands on an F1 car. There are usually specific websites you can visit to find these kinds of auction, and if there is a specific car that you want to buy, a quick Google search will usually give you some results.

Websites like Racecars Direct and F1 Authentics often have vast selections of F1 cars for sale from various eras. I will talk more about these eras and what they mean for the price of the car in the next section. You will also sometimes come across private sellers, but they often take the auction approach as well, using websites like eBay to sell the car.

Finding Them Locally

Obviously, you can ask around your local garages and auction houses if you think they may be aware of some sellers in your area, but looking online is definitely the best way to find F1 cars for sale.

KEY POINTS

• You can buy F1 cars, but they’re not cheap

• They cost millions of dollars to build, but generally they don’t always cost millions to buy

• F1 cars are often sold through private auctions or sometimes online

What Will Affect The Price Of An F1 Car?

Does It Drive?

The thing that will have the biggest effect on the price is whether or not the car contains a working engine. This is typically the most expensive part of the car, so it will have the biggest impact on the price when it is then resold.

This is not just because it is an expensive component however, as it will also dictate whether you’ll be able to drive the car. Many people buy an F1 car to use it at track days, as of course it cannot be driven on the road for obvious safety reasons. So, if your F1 car of choice doesn’t have an engine, you won’t be able to use it and it will need to function as a show car.

Note: This may or may not be important for you, as many people just want one of these cars as a showpiece for their home

Show Cars

Show cars are some of the cheapest options on the F1 car market. These are cars that were purpose built by the teams to be used for exactly what the name suggests. These cars have no engines or working components, but instead function as replicas of the real cars used on track. They are usually built using the same molds as the real cars too.

2022 Red Bull F1 show car in the foreground with a 2021 Alpine F1 show car in the background.
Here are two examples of F1 show cars, with a 2022 Red Bull in front and a 2021 Alpine in the back

These are typically used at events and at race days for promotional purposes, and they can be picked up for much less than you might imagine. These kinds of cars might be found for anywhere between $30,000 up to several hundred thousand dollars. You can also find real cars branded as rolling chassis cars, which means they have had their engines removed.

The average price of an F1 show car sold through F1 Authentics is around £150,000 / $185,000

The Condition Of The Car

Show cars tend to be in good if not perfect condition, simply because they have never seen any racing and are usually kept in an enclosed environment or casing. But F1 cars that have seen action on the track, regardless of whether they have an engine, will have signs of use.

This could come in the form of major damage from crashes, or it could be minor scrapes or issues with the paintwork. The extent of the damage will have a big effect on the total price of the car.

Who Drove It?

If the car was driven by a championship winner, it is obviously going to be more expensive than one driven by someone who never got on the podium with it. The team it belonged to will also matter, as a Ferrari will usually always go for more than a Haas car for example.

How Much Does It Cost To Buy An F1 Car?

It can cost anywhere from a few tens of thousands of dollars to several million dollars to buy an F1 car. How much it costs depends on the car’s usage, condition, and whether it can still run. F1 show cars generally sell for close to $100,000, but race-used F1 cars can sell for $5 million or more.

The Most Expensive F1 Cars Ever Sold

Year SoldCarCost
20131954 Mercedes W196R£19.6 million / $29.7 million
20222003 Ferrari F2003£10.7 million / $13.2 million
20172001 Ferrari F2001£5.5 million / $7 million
20192002 Ferrari F2002£5.2 million / $6.6 million
20221998 Ferrari F300£5.2 million / $6.2 million

Note that prices above were correct at the time of auction, and do not take into account inflation between then and now. That’s why the last two have the same price in GBP but a $400,000 difference.

The most expensive F1 car ever sold was Juan Manuel Fangio’s 1954 Mercedes W196R, which sold for £19.6 million in 2013 (about $30 million at the time). It was the car he took his second championship in (he went on to win a total of 5).

Michael Schumacher’s F2001 Ferrari F1 car, which he drove to victory at the Monaco Grand Prix of 2001, sold at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in 2017 for $7.5 million, and his championship-winning F2002 sold for just over $6.5 million in 2019.

This is perhaps what you might expect a car that cost millions to build to fetch, even from the early 2000s. But still, there have been many sold well below this range, with cars regularly going for a few hundred thousand dollars. The 1998 car used by Benetton could be bought with its engine for just over $300,000, while a 2002 Jordan F1 car might cost you around $250,000.

Cheaper Options

Then there are the show cars, which come in much cheaper than those above. These typically fetch a few hundred thousand dollars.

What Other Race Cars Can You Buy?

NASCAR & IndyCar

F1 cars are not the only race cars that private buyers might want to get their hands on, and they are definitely not the only ones on the market. In fact, they are not even the easiest ones to find. NASCAR and IndyCar vehicles are also available for private purchase, and they are found and bought in much the same way as F1 cars, usually through auctions or auction websites.

At Racecars Direct, there are NASCAR cars on sale for less than $50,000. Granted these cars cost less to build than F1 cars, but this is still a huge bargain for a big fan of the sport. There are also IndyCar vehicles on sale too, which can be bought for similar prices. However, older and more lucrative models tend to go for more than $100,000.

Final Thoughts

You may have never thought about buying an F1 car, as you might have thought that it wouldn’t be possible. Although it definitely is, it will require a big budget in most cases. The most expensive sales have been in the millions of dollars, but you can get your hands on real F1, NASCAR and IndyCar cars for less than some road cars through online auctions.