The Ferrari California is a grand touring sports car. It is a two door "2+2" hard top convertible. The California is powered by front-mid mounted gasoline direct injection 4.3 L (260 cu in) V8 with 460 PS (338 kW; 454 hp). The car revives the "California" name used for the late-1950s Ferrari 250 GT.
It competes with cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 and the Lamborghini Gallardo. Though in size it is similar to the Aston Martin Vantage, in price and performance, it is more akin to the Aston Martin Vantage AM310.
The California was launched by Ferrari at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. According to industry rumors, the California originally started as a concept for a new Maserati, but the resulting expense to produce the car led the Fiat Group to badge it as a Ferrari in order to justify the high cost of purchase; the company denies this, however. The California represents a new, fourth model range for the company.
The California will be built in a new production line adjacent to the existing factory at Maranello. The existing production line produces 27 cars per day, or 6,000 per year. Ferrari plans to produce 5,000 Californias in the first two years of production, thereby increasing Ferrari production by 50% with introduction of this nameplate. The California, according to many motoring magazines, is sold out until 2011, with 60% of buyers being new to the Ferrari marque.
The California represents a number of firsts for Ferrari:
- The first front engined Ferrari with a V8
- The first to feature a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission
- The first with a folding metal roof
- The first with multi-link rear suspension
- The first with direct petrol injection
Bosch produced the direct injection system. The engine displaces 4,297 cubic centimetres (262.2 cubic inches) and delivers 338 kW (453 bhp) at 7,750 rpm; its maximum torque produced is 485 N·m (358 lbf·ft) at 5,000 rpm. The resulting 80 kW (107 bhp) per litre of engine displacement is one of the highest for a naturally aspirated engine, as other manufacturers have used supercharging or turbocharging to reach similar power levels.
The California has a top speed of 310 km/h (193 mph) and it can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.9 seconds. Although 180 kilograms (397 lb) heavier and 30 PS (22 kW; 30 hp) less powerful than the mid-engined F430, the California reaches 97 km/h (60 mph) in the same time as the F430 due to the dual-clutch transmission.
Ferrari spent over 1,000 hours in the wind tunnel with a one-third-scale model of the California perfecting its aerodynamics. With the top up, the California has a Cd of 0.32, making it the most aerodynamic Ferrari ever made, until the introduction of the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta.
On 15 February 2012, Ferrari announced an upgrade of the 2009 model which includes weight loss and engine tuning. Coach builder Scaglietti, designer of the body of the California, reduced 30 kg (66 lb) from the body to enhance performance whilst still keeping the car a coupe convertible GT with four seats. Ferrari has also tuned the engine for greater performance levels with an increased power output of 30 PS. As a result, the GDI V8 engine delivers 490 PS (360 kW; 480 hp) and an additional 15 N·m (11 lbf·ft) of torque at 5,000 rpm. Its acceleration reduced its 0–100 km/h time from 3.9 seconds to 3.8. The new California is also the first to receive the Handling Speciale Package, which includes magnetorheological dampers which increase the steering response by 10% along with stiffer springs and a faster ECU with 50% faster response time. The package also minimises body roll and increases the response of driver inputs. The car was released at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show as a 2012 model in Europe and as a 2013 model year for the US.
In May 2012, Ferrari recalled the California because the engine could freeze suddenly and possibly cause a crash. The F136 engines had crankshafts that were machined incorrectly. The auto maker learned of the problem when it happened during a review by car critics. Owners can choose from having a new engine installed by their dealer, having the engine removed and the work done by Ferrari North America or having a new crankshaft and bearings installed at the dealership.