With its refined elegance and Formula One-inspired turbocharged engine, the new California T reinforces the quality of the aspirated Ferrari engines, while delivering the same sound, progressive torque, 560hp and a remarkable reduction in emissions and consumption. The California T is the perfect model for those who like a gutsy Berlinetta, faithful to the Prancing Horse tradition and, at the same time, an exciting Spider to be used for the sheer pleasure of driving
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
It would be oversimplifying things to discuss the Ferrari California T purely by describing what it includes. That would be what car makers do. Ferrari, which makes dreams, has no need to sing the praises of the tremendous power of the new turbo engine, or the refinement of the lines which although very different, echo those that made its predecessor so extraordinarily successful. Nor do they need to draw attention to
the wonderful details and softness of the leather. We let other people do all of that. It’s much more
fitting, and much more seductive too, to consider the California T’s name, its genesis, and the
emotions it can arouse. The name California was born, in the late 1950s, in response to a specific request from people living in the US state that is a world apart, even in that nation’s history. People whose lifestyle was governed by a special climate, by a landscape rich with its own individual charm and by a way of
being in which brilliance and intuition unite with the worlds of glamour and film. During the 1960s the unique cars produced by a small Italian manufacturer in Maranello, which always took the lead in motorsport, became a global symbol of an exotic kind of success. To own a Ferrari was the dream of many, but a possibility for only a few. However, in California, these captivating sports cars, high in horsepower
and with a very distinctive character, really weren’t ideal. They were too hot, even with the windows
open, and, above all, too aerodynamic and closed in for the drivers to be visible behind the wheel as
the lucky and much-envied owners. The Italian driver Luigi Chinetti, who, with a number of major endurance race wins to his credit, moved to the US and established himself as a successful salesman, felt there was a gap in the market for a different type of Ferrari, one that would suit those living on the West Coast. As Enzo Ferrari’s trusted friend and, just as importantly, as the Prancing Horse’s importer to the US, Chinetti began to press for an open-topped model to be produced at Maranello.
Pininfarina’s 250 Cabriolet proved that such a car could be a success. However, the California miracle
was born in Modena, thanks to someone who always considered himself a panel beater rather
than a genius: Sergio Scaglietti. This coachwork designer from Modena with genius in his soul, not
just in his hands, who invented truly magical bodywork for sports boats, took up Pininfarina’s
idea and worked his magic on the shapes, giving birth to the California, either with a long
wheelbase or the short wheelbase of the SWB. How valuable was his work? It made an
irresistible car for those who really wanted to be looked at on Sunset Boulevard. His marketing was
instinctive, a way of tailoring the perfect garment for big stars, the one they would have dreamed of.
So, the first ingredient of a car named “California” is that it knows how to give pleasure to the people
inside it. The pleasure of being in that car, in that place and at that time.
That magical name stayed in our hearts and memories from that time, until, in the mid-2000s, Luca di Montezemolo called together the people at the Company who develop new models and suggested that a Ferrari should be made that wouldn’t take more traditional technical and sporting requirements as its starting point, but instead base itself on the desires of a new generation of drivers. Drivers who wanted to havea real Ferrari, with all the attributes for which it’s so widely admired, but that can be used on Rodeo
Drive, along the Croisette at Cannes, in Ginza in Tokyo or on the streets of Qingdao, China.
Like Chinetti in his day, Montezemolo now wanted the Company to line up alongside its most extreme racing cars a model that could be both pleasing to the eye and to the soul, one that translated the Company’s sporting pedigree into thrilling performance. In 2008 a convertible was born, with a fast-action retractable hard-top, suitable for all types of use. Not just in terms of looking good, but also for sports use, so much so that at events like the Ferrari Tribute to 1,000 Miglia or Targa Florio, a host of clients turned up
with this model from the start. Its name? California, of course. A model that immediately proved that even a Ferrari primarily created for pleasure and everyday use is still a Ferrari and one that doesn’t lose its pedigree values. This car, with its beautiful aspirated V8 engine and, thanks to the rear space, the ability to
accommodate more than two people, or luggage, without ever needing to open the boot, has become Ferrari’s most successful model ever. The car was powerful testimony that desire to own a Ferrari isn’t always motivated by the same reasons. Indeed, a significant number of those buying the California were actually purchasing a Ferrari for the first time. This phenomenon is being repeated today with
the new California T. As with all great successes, what is required is evolution, not revolution. What
counts, as we said from the start, is the soul inside the model and what that soul transmits.
The California T transmits, first and foremost, the spirit of California, with a design that makes pleasure and enjoyment its first objective. The turbo suggests that Ferrari wanted to make a connection between the return of the forced induction engine in Formula One and the turbocharged road engine.
Since first appearing in the 1970s, that technology has made incredible advances. The turbo quietly helps by providing so much horsepower and wisely managing consumption and emissions. The characteristic, unmistakable noise of the Ferrari V8 sounds even more exciting when stopping and starting at lights in
fashionable locations where Californias are driven; it makes it a model that’s completely in step with the new rules regarding social etiquette. The profile, created from the refined style of the Centro Stile Ferrari, retains Pininfarina’s aristocratic touch. Everything has changed, yet no breaks are apparent in the California’s success. Visibly wider, softer, more muscular, more graceful, the California T has the virtue of
maintaining continuity, while making important changes. The same is true of the interior too, with seats designed to combine comfort and sportiness, the central bridge that makes the seating area
more graceful and functional, and careful research into the comfort of those sitting behind.
In conclusion, this is an authentic California, with all the spirit and charm of its illustrious predecessors. Now’s a good time to remember the words of Paul Newman, who, don’t forget, was not just a great actor, but also such a good driver that he achieved important results behind the wheel of Maranello models as well: “I have always dreamed of being able to use a convertible Ferrari in Los Angeles. I even bought one, but after I left the dealership, happy and with the roof down, I stopped at a red light. What with the people who came up to see the car and those who recognized me, there was such a traffic jam that, reluctantly,
I turned round and went straight back to the dealer. ‘I’m sorry, but I’m giving it back to you. I can’t have a Ferrari Spider. I don’t think I would ever get to a single appointment again…’” You see? When you talk about cars like that, describing technical specifications isn’t just unnecessary. It’s pointless!