A package of technical tweaks for the California T gives Ferrari’s grand touring convertible extra appeal for those seeking an exotic sports car suitable for day-to-day duty, writes Sean Li
nzo Ferrari’s love of racing was well known. Racing is part of the very DNA of the company he founded, for its development of road cars was to help finance Ferrari’s racing activities. Scuderia Ferrari entered the very first Formula One championship in 1950 and is the only team to have participated continuously.
You can understand, then, that Ferrari’s performance standards are expected to be very high at every level. While other manufacturers have expanded their product range to include sports utility vehicles or other brand extensions, Ferrari has steadfastly focused on exotic sports cars, and has gone on record to say that it has no plans to do otherwise.
That doesn’t mean, however, there’s no room to manoeuvre. Take the Ferrari California. Designed specifically as a grand tourer (GT), it was not designed to push into the extremes of performance. It was meant for a multipurpose existence, a Ferrari that can be used on a regular basis, whether for the daily commute, a weekend away or a leisurely Sunday drive to the country club. Some of the marque’s more performanceoriented enthusiasts have looked down on the California as a softer, less capable Ferrari. But the technical details leave little to desire. The California T has a 552bhp, 3.9-litre bi-turbo V8 engine that generates a very significant 755Nm of torque for a 3.6-second 0-100km/h dash and a top speed of 316km/h.
While it may be the “slowest” member of Ferrari’s roadgoing stable, those figures still place it very firmly in the highperformance category, perhaps just short of a supercar. Bear in mind that the California T is a four-seater, is fully convertible and has sufficient room in the boot, even with the hard top retracted, to accommodate the gear required for a weekend getaway. It very ably fulfils the goals Ferrari had in mind in developing the California.
There are drivers, however, who would like to push the GT concept further and make the California sportier. It’s for these customers that Ferrari has developed a new version, the California T Handling Speciale. The “Speciale” does not match the “track special” Ferraris developed for clients who want to drive their car on the nearest racetrack on a regular basis. Handling Speciale refers to a specific formula developed to change the character of the car on the road, making its Ferrari’s California T Handling Speciale tackles the roads around Portofino with aplomb