Second-hand car dealing - with a big, big difference

So what's it like to own a modern Ferrari Formula one car? "If you like golf, it's like playing Augusta with Tiger Woods. If you like tennis, it's like playing Andre Agassi on the Centre Court at Wimbledon." Thai's how F1-2000 owner Paul Osborn describes it.

The Essex car dealer has owned and driven plenty of F1 machinery in his time, but nothing compares to F1-2000. "The drive is just so many light years in front of anything guys like me are used to," he says. "The easiest way to describe it is like this: the 1991 Benetton was a good car in its day, but the difference between it and this Ferrari is like that between a Morris Minor and a Mercedes SL55."

As Osborn says, the F1-2000 is the most important grand prix car Ferrari has sold in the past 20 years. It is also the most recent Fl car in private hands, but thanks to Ferrari's Clienti division, it probably won't remain so for very long. Buying a Ferrari direct from the factory is easier now than it has ever been.

"Before F1 Clienti it was all a bit undercover," says Osbom. "You had to know somebody. To buy one you generally had to be a friend of Luca di Montezemolo or Jean Todt. Now with the customer division you can go into Ferrari UK and say 'I want to buy a Ferrari Fl car', they put you in touch with the factory and ifs that simple."

Clearly, Ferrari still controls who gets their hands on the red cars. It even maintains a high degree of power over what is done with them once they are sold. Fred Goddard Racing, for example, is the only company in the UK that has Ferrari's blessing to run its old cars, and to do so on proper rubber; Osborn and the team have to hire the Bridgestone grooved tyres direct from the factory.

So how much? "It's quite good value," Osborn insists. 'The trouble is that now all Ferrari has is championship-winning cars, which will be more expensive. It depends whether it is a four-time race winner or a test car. But you are talking around US$1.5 million (£830,000)."