Since its birth as a standalone model in 2008, the California has been Ferrari's most affordable vehicle — that is, if you can call $200,000 affordable. This led sales to surpass 8,000 units, and of all the cars departing Maranello, the California brings in the most new buyers.
However, there's always been one gaping problem that's hard to ignore: It was so very ugly.
Yes, its lackluster aesthetics needed a rework. And, as is immediately evident with the new California T, debuting today ahead of its Geneva reveal next month, Ferrari has done just that — rectifying its errors, creating a convertible GT that steals styling cues from the iconic 250 GTO.
With its voluptuous curves and twin hood vents, it pulls together a design that once appeared lost and disconnected. A large part of its success must be attributed to the narrower headlamps that pinch up top like being tightened by a belt. The retractable hardtop and seating for four remains. The interior is reminiscent of all modern Ferraris; lots of leather and a steering wheel with enough buttons to require an engineering degree.
Not only does it look better, the California T sports a more muscular powerplant. Replacing the 4.3-liter V-8 is a 3.8-liter turbocharged V-8 (the first turbocharged Ferrari since the F40), offering an improvement of 15 percent in fuel economy, but, more importantly, an insane 49 percent increase in torque to 557 lb.-ft.
Horsepower balloons 62 hp to 552 hp, while weight drops around 200 lbs. 0-62 mph now takes 3.6 seconds, with the acceleration maxing out at 196 mph. Ferrari claims the California T's engine produces a soundtrack that resonates unlike any turbo motor before it, and given the Italian marque's god-given talent to produce sounds even Apollo can't replicate, we don't doubt that for one minute.
Additionally, a new steering box reportedly improves response while limiting kickback, and uprated Magnaride dampers respond 50 percent faster than before. Body motion accelerometers help reduce roll and pitch, and the CCM3 carbon-ceramic brakes feature a new composite disc and pad.
So the new California T differs wildly from the old. And while its historically strong sales perhaps suggest otherwise, I think it's exactly what's needed. A rework that heightens the beauty while accentuating the beast.