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FERRARI'S first hybrid supercar, the $2 million LaFerrari, will make its first and possibly its only ever visit to Australia this month for a festival to celebrate the iconic Italian brand -- but one of the fastest cars in the world will be on static display only and isn't allowed to be driven. Ferrari head office in Italy has disabled the complex petrol-electric engine to prevent anyone from driving the car.
It means that Ferrari Australia representatives will have to push it on and off its transporter and into position for the Ferrari Racing Days at Sydney Motorsport Park, from April 11 to 13, where it will be the star attraction among 300 classic and racing Ferraris estimated to be worth more than $175 million.
"This is the first and quite possibly the only time we will see a LaFerrari in Australia," said Ferrari Australia boss Herbert Appleroth. "We have been very lucky to secure it, but it won't be driven."
The LaFerrari, which costs 1 million Euros plus taxes -- which would cost at least $1.5 million in Australia before 33 per cent Luxury Car Tax, 10 per cent GST and 5 per cent import duty are added if it were sold here -- cannot be registered in Australia because it is left-hand-drive only and has not been certified to meet our regulations.
But that hasn't stopped "between 5 and 10" Australians from ordering one and keeping them garaged overseas. As is customary with the supercar brand, Ferrari Australia would not reveal the identity of the local LaFerrari customers.
High profile car collectors and Ferrari fanatics in Australia include Dean Wills, the former Coca-Cola Australia boss, and transport magnate Lindsay Fox. But neither businessman has declared themselves as one of the owners.
"We never reveal the identity of our customers," said Mr Appleroth, adding that they may not be household names. "Most of (the LaFerrari customers) are not in the public arena."
Just 499 LaFerraris will be made, even though the global demand is more than four times that amount. Ferrari has gone to extra-ordinary lengths to ensure that the vehicle isn't snapped up by speculators keen sell the car to make a quick buck. Prospective LaFerrari buyers had to own at least five Ferraris and bought a new one in the last two years, the company said.
The strict requirements helped spark a surge in sales for the Italian car maker late last year, as buyers tried to qualify for the LaFerrari list. Only about a quarter of those who expressed an interest in buying a LaFerrari were granted a production slot.
Ferrari says it received more than 20 "serious expressions of interest" from customers in Australia but that only "5 to 10" customers were successful. "It doesn't matter if you're famous or not. It's not based on who you are. The decision is based on loyalty and passion for Ferrari," said Mr Appleroth. "You would not believe the famous people [internationally] who won't be invited to purchase."
The company has so far been reluctant to disclose the exact number of cars sold locally but Carsguide understands the first Australian will take delivery of LaFerrari by the end of this year.
The LaFerrari is powered by a 6.2-litre V12 engine matched to a high-output electric motor that will boost acceleration once the car is already on the move. Unlike the Toyota Prius, which can idle and move from rest silently using electric power, the LaFerrari leaves the V12 running at idle because customers want to hear the Ferrari engine.
In 2012 Ferrari sold more than 7500 cars globally -- its highest annual tally -- following growth in emerging markets, in particular China. In 2013, Ferrari deliveries globally were down slightly (to 6922) but the company says profitability increased as buyers favoured dearer models, in particular the new Ferrari F12 coupe.
Meanwhile classic Ferraris are proving to be a worthwhile investment. In October 2013 a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO racer became the world's most expensive car, selling to a private buyer for a claimed $US52 million.
The red competition car, formerly owned by a Connecticut-based collector, was acquired by an unidentified buyer in a private transaction, according to the Bloomberg news agency. The price was a 49 percent increase on the record for any car, achieved in June 2012 for another Ferrari 250 GTO, when a US billionaire paid $US35 million for an apple-green 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.
Only 39 original GTO cars were made, with a retail price of around $US18,000 at the time. With inflation taken into account, this is the equivalent of about $US135,000 today.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling