Saturday, May 28, 2011

Supercar Profile - Ferrari California

By Wayne Armstrong

The Ferrari California was first unveiled to an unsuspecting bunch of car enthusiasts at the Paris Motor Show in 2008. It is a 4 seat (to be honest it is more a 2+2) grand tourer sports car which lays claim to a number of firsts for the Italian supercar manufacturer.

For example, the Ferrari California is the first Ferrari to feature a folding metal roof. It had to come eventually I suppose, but Ferrari have taken their time to introduce this to their lineup. The beauty of designing such a feature is that Ferrari managed to achieve never before matched aerodynamic properties for a convertible. In fact, they spent a lot of time and money to get the aerodynamics right on this car. So much so, that
which a drag co-efficient of only 0.32, this is the most aerodynamic production road car Ferrari have ever produced.
Also, another first for a Ferrari is the fact that the Ferrari California features a V8 engine mounted up front. All previous front engined Ferraris have been V12s.
Thirdly, the California features a 7 speed dual clutch transmission, another first for a Ferrari production road car.
The extra engineering involved in the folding roof mechanism among other things makes the Ferrari California relatively heavy when compared to say, a Ferrari F430. You would think this would affect performance, and you would be right, except for the fact that dual clutch gear change mechanism improves acceleration so much that the California matches the F430's sprint time from zero to 62mph in less than four seconds. This is even more impressive when you consider that the up front V8 produces 30 horse power less than the F430's mid mounted unit.
Another first for a Ferrari road car is multi link rear suspension, which makes for superb handling.
One of the things that may not appeal to Ferrari customers is the look of the car. It is a bit of a departure from previous cars in the Ferrari stable. It's not an immediately likeable shape. Part of the problem is the need to incorporate the metal roof when it is folded, but opinion is divided. Some say they could have made a slightly greater effort to make the California prettier to look at.
The California is built in Maranello in a new production line at the side of the other cars in the Prancing Horse stable. Around 6000 Ferrari California's are built every year

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