Ferrari California was unveiled in 2008 at the Paris Auto Show. When it was unveiled it was met with moderate skepticism. The reason was due to many reasons that only a true Ferrari enthusiast would understand.
True Ferrari enthusiasts always considered the purity of the purpose as well as the elegant looks. Ferrari described the Ferrari California as some sort of Swiss army knife. It was supposed to be all things combined into one product, a sports car which is also a GT, with a retractable hardtop roof. It had retro leanings and the name Ferrari California was also met with suspicion due to it being copied from the Ferrari 250 GT California.
Some automotive journalists and reviewers stated that this being a front-engine V8-equipped car, which is highly unlikely to be a Ferrari, that the car itself began life as a Maserati project that became too expensive to make many profits, but advanced enough to be considered as a masterpiece. Many claimed that the car with its heavier curb weight and refined double-clutch transmission was just a shameless attempt to capitalize on the US market demand.
Ferrari’s enthusiasts also claimed that the maximum power output of just 453 horsepower was also not enough. The looks were criticized with an open accusation that the Ferrari’s are designed to attract women drivers, which was projected to be 50% of the sales.
The rear end of the Ferrari California was bulky and the coke bottle styling on the rear and the swag line on the doors was highlighted to give it the elegance of classic Ferrari cars.
The interior of the car also followed the same retro styling. The instrument binnacle in a lavish cowl, circular face-level vents, big yellow center display rev counter were all influenced by the classic Ferrari cars.
A Machined aluminum fillet on the center console housed the buttons for launch control, the electric handbrake, electric windows, and the transmission system’s auto mode.
The Middle of the dashboard housed a big multi-function touchscreen display with an aluminum framing around it.
The big red Engine Start button and the manettino were located on the steering wheel and these buttons were also enclosed with aluminum fillet.
Ferrari California’s manettino featured just three modes, comfort, sport, and Stability control off.
Optional Daytona seats were also designed with the classic Ferrari interior in mind.
When the hardtop is retracted, the Ferrari California sounds much more aggressive than it looks with the more audible baritone idle of the flat plane cranked Ferrari V8 engine.
The 4297cc V8 engine was installed in the front mid-section of the car longitudinally. So, it sits well back in the chassis. It wasn’t the same engine as the Ferrari F430’s, but the basic architecture was largely the same. The direct fuel injection system of the Ferrari California’s powerplant allows a higher compression ratio, and it has a wider bore and shorter stroke, displacing 4297cc instead of the 4308c of the Ferrari F430. Rev limiter was set at 8000rpm.
Then it was mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch paddle-shift gearbox to transfer the power to the rear wheels. This system was faster than the Ferrari F1 SuperFast paddle-shift transmission.
The maximum power output was rated at 453 horsepower at 7750rpm and 358 lb-ft of torque at 5000rpm.
F1-Trac, the Formula One derived traction control system was installed as standard.
The front suspension of the car consisted of double wishbones, coil springs, and dampers. Magnetic dampers were also optional.
The rear suspension consisted of multi-link coil springs and dampers.
Ventilated cross-drilled carbon-ceramic disc brakes, 390 mm in the front and 360 mm in the rear were added as standard along with ABS. The braking of the car is considered as progressive at the pedal than in many other supercars.
The curb weight was measured at 1735 kg.
Ferrari California could reach a top speed of 193mph, and the 0-62mph was achieved in less than four seconds.
Ferrari acclaimed performance figures were slightly better than the performance of the Ferrari F430, a mid-engine car that happens to be 275 kg lighter than the Ferrari California. The reason for this is the extra torque of the engine as well as the astonishing speed and responsiveness of the seven-speed double-clutch transmission system.
Ferrari California also came with launch control, and it allows the driver to get the perfect startup, which results in improved 0-62mph times. It also ran the quarter-mile in 12 seconds with a top speed of 193mph which means that within 12 seconds, the driver could upshift until the revs build-ups to its 8000rpm rev limiter, achieving top speed.
Ferrari California is also known for its well-sorted chassis and extremely stiff body structure that doesn’t flex or shake, despite how tough the road conditions are.
When in comfort mode the suspension loosens up to provide a more pliant and comfortable ride even on a road with ruts and dips. People who got to drive a one says that the Ferrari California somehow feels lighter than it is and closely coupled to the road.
The handling of the car is also excellent thanks to the composed and well sorted out chassis, carbon-ceramic brakes, and suspension.
Despite initial criticism, the Ferrari California is as a matter of fact is a real red-blooded Ferrari, and is quite astonishing in terms of performance as well as when it comes to looks. It is easy to drive, the ride is refined, and offers uncompromised speed.
The exterior and interior manage to encapsulate the elegance and the chick aura of the classic Ferrari cars. It looks beautiful when its roof is retracted as well as when the roof is on.
It takes only fourteen seconds to retract its roof, making it practical in day-to-day driving situations.
The aural symphony of the V8 engine along with its intoxicating perfect transmission, perfectly sorted out chassis and extremely stiff body structure, comfortable ride, uncompromised performance means that this is, as a matter of fact, a sports car as well as a GT car.
Ferrari California manages to capture someone’s breath with a glance, and it is undoubtedly, one of the best supercars of all time.