Can You Buy Old F1 Cars? Yes, here’s how…


In the swiftly-advancing world of F1, cars descend from their prime to obsolete examples of yesteryear in what seems like a heartbeat. This means that as teams work fastidiously to stay ahead of the curve with car development, forever eyeing incremental rule changes looking to slow them down, older versions of their cars soon have to find a new home away from the race track.

But often is the case, that it’s far from the end of the road for these fine and fragile track weapons, so where do they end up? Is it possible for just about anyone to buy one and take it for a spin?

Despite the technological and mechanical fortitude present on an F1 car, they are frequently sold at auction to the public, exchanging hands from collectors to celebrities, ex-racer drivers, to those just looking for a sumptuous showpiece to complete the décor of their business premises, there are F1 cars on the market right now that can be acquired for under $100,000! – that is if you don’t mind being without an engine.

Today we’re taking a closer look at the world of old F1 cars for sale, unpeeling every layer of the process, from where to look, to what kinds of cars are for sale and how much you should expect to pay for one.

Ferrari F1 car

What happens to old F1 cars?

Year after year, teams work to improve their current car, with revisions to the car’s design intended to elevate its performance up a notch, and in the best-case scenario, ahead of the rest of the field. While teams only use 2 cars to race with throughout the season, there are various iterations of the car produced for a range of purposes, from test cars with full running gear, to test vehicles and show cars that stand on display at events.

Due to the top-secret nature of Formula 1, the rarest and most expensive cars, the ex-race models, can sit for many years collecting dust before even being considered for release to the public. Until a relatively major rule change is introduced by the FIA that could ensure the car’s components would not be beneficial in any way, should the car fall into the “wrong hands”, it’s likely teams would hold onto their previous season’s cars for as long as possible.

After all, used F1 cars only sell for a fraction of their original value, meaning teams have far more to lose than they do to gain from selling a car that could still contain valuable secrets.

Eventually, the F1 cars that are no longer needed by teams or other enterprises often find their way into auction houses, alongside other rare and collectible race cars.

Why buy an old F1 car?

F1 cars are rare and elegant unicorns representing the pinnacle of speed and performance for that era. Many would love to own an old F1 car simply to ogle it at it, admiring every curve and detail, affording the luxury to jump into the driving seat and let your imagination conjure dreams of racing for real. But while it’s enough for some to simply appreciate the aesthetic delights of an F1 car, others buy an old F1 car to go racing for real.

Where do you buy old F1 cars?

There are many places to find used F1 cars for sale, from auction houses to private collections, here you’ll find historic race cars of all types, including F1 cars. Here are some places to start:

F1 Authentics

Motorsport Auctions

Race Cars Direct

How much do old F1 cars cost?

The value of used Formula 1 cars varies widely depending on the specifics of the model and its history, though don’t expect the prices to be revealed on higher value cars. Protecting the value of the car is commonplace in the world of ex-F1 cars, so you’ll need to enquire, showing your interest to find out the details you need about the price and other factors.

Show cars from the last 20 years of F1 can start from $20,000, often containing many components such as show tires, that make them unsuitable for track use.

Ex-race cars from the mid-eighties to the late nineties that saw moderate success have sold from $100,000 to as much as $500,000, depending on the mileage of the vehicle and inventory of spare parts that may be included with the sale.

The rarest, most iconic cars that have been driven to victory by some of the most recognizable names in the sports fetch the highest prices, with some ex-race models fetching as much as $5million at auction! Often, it’s a matter of exclusivity, and many of the most desirable historic F1 cars are either living out the remainder of their years in the museums or headquarters of those that first created them.

Show cars and cutaway cars

Not all F1 cars for sale are quite what they seem, some were never intended for track use, and because of this, they command a much lower asking price. Often manufacturers that have an involvement in the construction of the car, Pirelli being the current tire provider, for example, may wish to display the current F1 car with its own components on show for the public to see.

Cutaway cars are exactly that, F1 cars that have been constructed to reveal the inner-wizardry of the car, often to educate or demonstrate certain elements in a more cohesive way. Cutaway cars are stunning to look at, and give you the rare pleasure of seeing the internals of the car without a bunch of parts scattered over your shiny floor.

Besides show cars and cutaways, another interesting type of F1 car you could get your hands on is an F1 simulator. The simulator is basically a replica F1 car with a fully functioning steering wheel and pedals, yet instead of a screaming engine powering the car, it’s a cutting-edge gaming PC and 55” 4K monitors that immerse users in the most realistic virtual F1 simulation money can buy, used by real F1 drivers.

What to look for when buying a historic F1 car?

The most valuable part of any F1 car is the engine so it’s important to check the condition and mileage of the unit, gaining any information you can about the operation of the vehicle and the availability of spare parts or specialist tools. Other details like the chassis numbers, part numbers, serial numbers, and documentation can all be used to verify the authenticity of the vehicle.

Always consult the help of an expert when dealing with matters of such high value as not all vehicles being sold as F1 vehicles are in fact genuine. Check that you can safely transport the vehicle to your location and beware of any additional fees, taxes or duty to be paid on the vehicle.

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John Cunningham

John is a writer, classic car and whiskey lover, men's shopping enthusiast and self appointed DIY expert. His greatest passion is repairing in the workshop, making old classics look and run like new again!

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