Technical knowledge and Stature of Ferraris new and old

The year 2008 was a big one for Ferrari, as far as what it gave to the world in the Ferrari California. What it gave us was a lot of new features: front-engine V8, retractible hardtop, double-clutch 7-speed transmission. And it was the last to carry a Ferrari classic, the manual gearbox. So the California pushes ahead while looking, or at least glancing, back.

What makes the California a unique car is that it’s a “grand tourer,” meaning it can go fast and look good, and do both for many miles of road. This situation is helped out by the fact that it’s a “2+,” meaning a two-door with a backseat. The driver’s seat is still where everyone wants to be, but if you can’t do that, at least you’ve got more seats available to watch the show.

The California’s name is a nod to one of the great Ferraris of the last century. The 250 GT California came on the scene in the late ’50s and pleased many a mid-century driver. That particular model was made famous in the 1986 John Hughes movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” In that film, the car was a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California, one of fewer than a hundred cars built. It was also, if you recall, destroyed in the movie’s climax — but worry not, that was just a replica.

This car made such an impression that the Ferrari family had to carry on the name in a new generation. Sure, they could’ve called it the Florida, but really, California seems much cooler. And it carries that 20th-century style into the 21st. The 2008 California goes zero to 60 in a shade under four seconds and reaches a top speed of 193 mph; in wind tunnel tests, it’s proved that it is Ferrari’s most aerodynamic car.

As serious as this car is, it isn’t one of Ferrari’s monster cars. In fact, the California has impressed some critics with how nicely it plays, and looks. Its features are fine but not exotic. It can certainly get up and go, but perhaps not in as scary a way as some of its siblings. And it’s got, as some have said, kind of a big ass.

None of which is to say that the Ferrari California fails any kind of test, whether in appearance or in how it rides, or even in backseat space (which is, admittedly, a bit limited, but still a backseat). It’s the car you want when you want to go somewhere far away. For that very quick trip cross-country. It’s the new minivan. Or well no, not even a little bit, but the California is indeed a car you’ll want to spend a lot of time in with people whose company you enjoy at high speeds.

Robotics and Reputation of a Ferrari, find more at Charles Granere‘s.

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