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Charles Philip Granere Science and Power of the Ferrari F430

Back in 2008, the Ferrari California appeared, promising great things to a car-driving world which always seeks novelty. The California boasted, among other things, the first front-engine V8 in Ferrari’s stable, as well as a retractible hardtop and double-clutch 7-speed transmission. At the same time, the California retired the ever-popular manual gearbox, meaning an era has truly come to an end. But the car has a wheel in the future and the past.

The Ferrari California is a “grand tourer,” a car designed not just for speed and handling, but for spending some quality time on the road. What makes it a bit more suitable for the long-haul is that it’s a “2+,” a two-door car with two seats in its backseat. The real magic may be in the driver’s seat, but at least now you’ve got a slightly larger audience to share your joy.

The California recalls a 20th-century ancestor, another great Ferrari with a sort-of backseat. Back in the late ’50s, the 250 GT California rolled onto highways and into dreams. You may know this car from the 1986 John Hughes movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The red car at the center of that film was a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California, one of something like 100 such cars built. And lest you worry that the car’s swan-dive at the movie’s end was a great crime against Ferrari: the car was a replica.

The Ferrari family felt such affinity for this new car that they had to hand down the name. They could’ve called it the Iowa, sure, but what’s sexy about that? So the modern car carries its classic name, and proves what the 21st-century can do. The California runs zero to 60 in just under four seconds, hits a top speed of 193 mph, and has been proven in wind tunnel tests to be Ferrari’s most aerodynamic car to date.

This is a big car, and a fast car, but it’s not one of the really mean Ferraris. The California has actually gotten a rep as a car that plays as nice as it rides. It looks good, sure, but not crazy. It has speed, but not that mind-numbing kind. And it has been said to have, by some, a large 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.

Science and Status of a Ferrari, find more at Charles Granere‘s.

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