Wednesday's Ferrari (RACE) IPO will make it easier than ever to get a piece of the iconic automaker. Buying stock in the company will set you back somewhere in the range of the $52 opening price, whereas buying an actual Ferrari -- especially a classic one -- can be a multi-million-dollar affair.
The Italian luxury sports car manufacturer begins trading publicly on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. The company has raised nearly $900 million, giving it a valuation of about $9.8 billion. Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) , which controls Ferrari and previously had a 90% stake in the company, saw its stake drop to 80% with the IPO.
With an initial price of $52 a share, Ferrari has become accessible to investors who might never even dream of owning the actual car. Prices on new models run from $180,000 to more than $400,000, and for classic models, the numbers are much higher.
Today's top-tier automobile market is dominated by rare production and racing cars from Ferrari, and nine of the most expensive cars ever sold were manufactured by the company. The most coveted car out there, a Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, manufactured in the early 1960s, costs the equivalent of 733,000 Ferrari shares.
Other models that fetch high prices (though not often as high as Ferrari) are Bugatti, Bentley and Mercedez-Benz.
Dietrich Hatlapa, founding member of the London-based research company and think tank Historic Automobile Group, estimates the rare automobile market's capitalization to be about $100 billion. He says the market has tripled since 2009, and the prices of some specific cars have jumped five-fold or six-fold in the same period.
"We're talking a very small market compared to mature asset classes. And if you see an increased demand in such a small market, you could say that market gets squeezed and gets pushed upwards because there are more buyers," he said.
"The market for cars has been accelerating at a pretty fair clip, especially European sports cars," said Eric Minoff, a specialist in the motoring department at Bonhams, the auction house behind a number of the biggest classic car transactions in recent years.
A number of factors come into play in determining a vehicle's price, including competition pedigree and technical finesse. And, of course, there is the issue of just how hard these cars are to get.
"Cars that are setting world records have not been available for a long time," Minoff said. "One of the major reasons the values of the car is so high is because they're generational vehicles."
Car collecting is a worldwide endeavor, though in some markets it is more prominent than in others. "It's a global market; however, the United States and Europe both represent the very large majority of the market and where collectors are based," said Hatlapa. He also noted that buying cars goes far beyond investing. "These things have become a lifestyle," he added.
Most transactions take place on the private market -- Hatlapa estimates about 70% -- meaning prices are not always known. Other sales transpire on the auction blocks, and because they are public, their prices are out in the open.
Here are 10 of the most expensive cars to ever go down in the record books. All but one are made by Ferrari.