Ayrton Senna stated that he had a “God-given right to win.” And his achievements back up. The Brazilian driver won 3 world championships, 41 grand prix wins, and 65 pole positions. Many believe he was the most talented F1 driver to ever roar on track.
His belief that he was destined to be the fastest racer ever was the key to some of the most unforgettable moments in racing. None of us will forget that ridiculous 1.4 sec faster pole lap in 1988 and the opening lap at 1993 Donnington Park. While all the top drivers have impeccable skills, Senna had a sixth sense. A feel for the track that has been unparalleled ever since. He once noticed when a wall was 4 millimeters out of place and alerted the staff. Ayrton’s complete awareness and mastery have never been matched.
The tragic end of Senna’s career means that there will be a mystique surrounding his memory. Before his untimely death, the driver saw another racer (Austrian rookie Roland Ratzenberger) get killed and was warned that the track was unsafe. But he said nothing would stop him from racing. But Ayrton Senna crashed into a concrete wall, while driving at around 144 miles and soon passed away. An Austrian flag was found in the car. It appears Senna was planning to unfurl it after (what he certainly believed) was his inevitable victory. And as we know, legendary tragedy is perfect for the value of his cards.
Collecting Ayrton Senna Cards
Senna was an absolute legend. He was more famous in his day than any of the big names in racing today (sorry, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen). But at the time, F1 racing cards were a peripheral industry. Therefore, he does not have many cards from big manufacturers like Topps and Panini, at least not from Ayrton’s heyday. And there, indeed, were no fancy patch auto cards or low-numbered parallels then. Therefore, the value of the Brazilian cards tends to be quite a bit lower than his modern-day equivalents.
We have yet to determine if this will last. The popularity of F1 cards is very recent, and people still prefer shiny new cards. But as these cards become mainstream and established, the standing of its vintage cards will increase. If that happens, Ayrton Senna cards will be first in line. His charisma, tragic story, and incredible achievements on the track make him the most obvious candidate to be the Mickey Mantle of F1 racing. With that possibility, buying into Ayrton Senna cards now is a good idea. Either way, their value is different, with racing cards going mainstream. There was only one Ayrton Senna.
Top 10 Ayrton Senna Trading Cards
Investing in Ayrton Senna cards is an excellent idea. We ranked the top ten Ayrton Senna investments available on the market. There are no wrong options, but some are better than others. Let's do this.
1992 Grid Formula One Ayrton Senna #186
A PSA 10 sold for $83.
The 1992 Grid Formula One Ayrton Senna #186 may be one of the best-known Ayrton Senna cards out there, but its value does not match. It comes from later in his career, about two years before the driver's untimely death. It also has a relatively high population count, buying the standards of Senna cards (which could be a lot higher). Nonetheless, this remains an indispensable part of any Senna collection. It captures the less acidic and more confident Ayrton of the 1990s. And remember, although this is no rookie card, the value of Ayrton Senna items is definitely on the rise. Getting a few of these cards for a low price is a good idea.
1986 Ace Trump Formula One F1 Ayrton Senna Lotus Rookie Card #C1
A PSA 10 sold for $800.
The 1986 Ace Trump Formula One F1 Ayrton Senna Lotus Rookie Card #C1 is not one of the most attractive or well-known of the drivers' early cards. Nonetheless, it has some advantages. It grades well. The population count is not very high. And most importantly, you don’t have to waste time on Google looking for the specs for a Lotus Renault 97 T. It is right there staring you in the face. And there is no question, like all early Senna cards, the price for this item is on the way up. So, get it while the prices are somewhat reasonable.
1987 A Question of Sport Ayrton Senna Portrait
A PSA 10 sold for $3,999.
It is hard to argue that Senna was a photogenic guy. And the 1987 A Question of Sport Ayrton Senna card captures that wry smile, which often accompanied his laconic wit at press conferences. If you are British, you are familiar with the BBC game show, which is touted as the "world's longest-running TV sports quiz."
There are 180 graded copies of the 1987 A Question of Sport Ayrton Senna Portrait card. That makes it the most common of the 3 that appear in the set but still the most popular. And among those 180, there are only 3 PSA 10s, which explains the high value of those chosen few. And you can get these for a low price raw. Some intelligent investor recently purchased 24 of these cards for a mere $49. Always be on the lookout.
1988 Panini Supersport Italian Ayrton Senna #7
A PSA 9 sold for $687.
The 1988 Panini Supersport Italian Ayrton Senna #7 is one of the more mass-produced of his early career cards. Its inclusion in a relatively popular Italian release provides it with some mass-market appeal, many of his other cards still need to have. That lowers the ceiling of these cards because the population is smaller than others. But it isn’t precisely prevalent either, with 45 graded copies. It could be worth finding a raw manuscript and grading it.
The card has immediate eye appeal. The simple design and well-matched headshot, and car picture work together beautifully. And we are fortunate that Senna was Brazilian because the colors of that flag are particularly suited to the card design.
1984 Panini F1 Grand Prix Scratch N' Play Car Panel Ayrton Senna/Rene Arnoux Rookie Card
A PSA 7 sold for $4,620.
The 1984 Panini F1 Grand Prix Scratch N' Play release is a godsend for Ayrton collectors. It provides not just one but several legit rookie cards for this racer from a big card company. That is nothing to sneeze at in an era of sketchy and unknown F1 releases. The double-panel rookie card features Senna representing the British Toleman Hart company, which folded in 1985. Before the Brazilian went on to bigger and better things with McClaren. The second driver is René Alexandre Arnoux, who finished third overall in 1983 for Ferrari.
This card has massive potential because not only does it have iconic historical significance, but it also comes with a meager population count. PSA only has 2 of these cards, a PSA 4 and a PSA 7. With a 7 going for well over $4,000, you can imagine what a high-grade 1984 Panini F1 Grand Prix Scratch N' Play Car Panel Ayrton Senna/Rene Arnoux Rookie Card might sell for.
1984 Panini F1 Grand Prix Scratch N' Play Ayrton Car
A PSA 6 went for $810.
So far, the 1984 Panini F1 Grand Prix Scratch N' Play Ayrton Car card has gone for a lower price than the double panel with René Arnoux. But I am not sure that it will remain this way in the future. This item features Senna alone in his car, providing a more appealing rookie card for many. In addition, the highest grade found for this item is a PSA 6. So a PSA 8 or even a 7 could be worth a lot more than some of the other Senna cards in this release.
1986 Scanlens Motor Racing Ayrton Senna Rookie Card #65
A PSA 7 sold for $1,100.
Senna cards from big companies are more plentiful than we would like. So, sometimes we must settle for niche releases like this by Australian sweets and chewing gum company Scanlens. Though they have stopped producing cards as of 1991, some of their sets are classics, such as this one commemorating the Australian Grand Prix of 1986, which Alain Prost won.
The 1986 Scanlens Motor Racing Ayrton Senna Rookie Card #65 is one of the driver's more distinctive early career issues. I love the red borders and generally have a weakness for lesser-known releases, so I have a soft spot for this one. And despite fetching a reasonable price on the market, it is not impossible to find raw versions of this card for an affordable price.
1995 Futera Formula One F1 Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher #/3000
A PSA 10 sold for $456.
This emotional card was released after the tragic early death of Senna. The 1995 Futera Formula One F1 Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher #/3000 card commemorates the greatest rivalry in the sport's history. The two were not rivals because they were vastly different. Quite the opposite. Both drivers were ruthless, instinctively brilliant, and always going for the win. Senna knew that the young German driver was gunning for his position as the world's most significant driver, and while he respected the upstart, the veteran certainly did not like him. So Senna once said, “I respect him. But I liked some behaviors from him less. But who knows, one day we may become friends.” Senna died on top and never saw the heights Schumacher would reach. They also never got to become friends.
There are only 49 graded copies of this card. Thanks to its historical importance, it may gain a good deal of value over time.
1986 Panini Supersport Italian Ayrton Senna #31
A PSA 10 sold for $34,801.
Nothing gives you a better idea of the rise of F1 cards than the price changes for the 1986 Panini Supersport Italian Ayrton Senna #31 ca. In 2018, you could buy a PSA 10 of this card for $38. In 2020 it was a $400 card. Meanwhile, the last purchase was worth almost $35,000. The lesson learned here is that F1 cards are mainstream now, and the prices are up accordingly. But more important for our purposes, it shows that Senna is cementing his role as THE classic driver to collect.
Though not really a Senna rookie card (after all, we have him in a Panini set from 1984), many collectors treat this as his actual rookie. It is easy to understand why because the simple but elegant design really pops.
1984 Panini F1 Grand Prix Scratch N' Play Ayrton Senna Rookie Card
A PSA 7 sold for $39,600.
The 1984 Panini F1 Grand Prix Scratch N' Play Ayrton Senna Rookie Card is easily the best-known driver's rookie card. The translucent design with Senna’s smiling visage works nicely to create an appealing rookie image. The Brazilian flag and the reminder that Senna took his first steps with the British Toleman-Hart company are nice touches.
Compared to some of the other Senna rookie cards in the 1984 Panini F1 Grand Prix Scratch N' Play release, this one has a high population count. But that isn’t saying all that much. There are still under 100 graded copies of it. The highest grade for one is a PSA 7. But keep in mind that because it has a somewhat higher pop count, there could be less overall scope for growth. And honestly, It's a crime how badly people have kept these vintage F1 racing cards!
Final Word On The Top 10 Ayrton Senna Trading Cards
It is no longer news that F1 cards are doing very well. But for the past two years, the older cards were not rising at anywhere near the same rate. There are signs that this is change. Because of his unique allure, Senna cards, in particular, are becoming more desirable. Indeed, his status as the go-to driver for vintage F1 cards is assured.
Because of that, the relatively low prices and the lower population counts for these vintage Senna cards provide investment opportunities. It may be challenging to find some of these items raw and ungraded. A high grade would break the market.