First introduced in 1966 at the Geneva Motor Show, the Ferrari 365 California was the replacement for the 500 Superfast. This final example of the ‘America’ series of vehicles carried over many elements from the Superfast, but notably with a folding canvas roof in place of the 500’s sweeping coupe roofline.
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Aside from the roof, Pininfarina changed little from the design of the 500, with notable updates including the headlights, scallops near the door handles, and the rear end treatment where most of the attention was focused. Due to its high price and Ferrari’s desire to keep the car exceptionally exclusive, a grand total of fourteen Ferrari 365 Californias were built, spanning model years 1966 and 1967.
Motivating the Ferrari 365 California was a single overhead cam 4.4 litre V12, a bored version of the 4.0 from the 330. This engine was one of the famous Colombo engines used in so many early Ferraris. Total output was rated at a very healthy 320 bhp, with a top speed of 245 km/h. Routing all of that power to the rear wheels was a 5-speed synchromesh gearbox. Like all cars in the America series, the California sported an independent front suspension paired with a live rear axle. Disc brakes at all four corners bring everything to a halt.
Large doors allowed for easy entrance to both the front and rear seats in this 2 + 2, although the exterior dimensions suggest that once inside, very little legroom would be available for the rear seat passengers. Clearly, there are no comprehensive reviews and performance tests of the 365 California, but, as I have pieced together from the lucky few who have had an opportunity to drive one, the car appears to be a fast, comfortable grand tourer, that one could spend all day driving. Now that doesn’t sound like a bad proposition to me.
Andy’s Thoughts – The Ferrari 365 California
It’s hard not to fall in love with the Ferrari 365 California, another one of those Spiders made specifically for the American market. Looking at it now, it has so many design cues that we see in other models, everything from a Dino to a 308. It represents an important time for Ferrari, transitioning from the 250 models, to the new modern era starting in the mid 70’s. It was made before the regulations dictated what a car should look like, so Pininfarina were entitled to let their hands do the talking.
But there is one problem with this car. If I was to liken it to a person, this car would be Simpson. No not Homer, but Mona Simpson. If you don’t know, Simpson is a successful author who wrote novels and won many awards. Her most notable was for a novel called ‘Anywhere But Here’ (1986), for which she won a Whiting Award and was turned into a film of the same name. Although you may not know her, you will defintely know her older brother, Steve Jobs. Cool fact is that they didn’t actually meet until she was 25, as Steve was given up for adoption at birth.
Like Mona Simpson, the Ferrari 365 California has a significantly better known older brother, namely the 250 GT Spider California, aka the car from Ferris Buellers Day Off. I love the 250 California, but then who doesn’t. It’s one of the most beautiful cars ever made, not just by Ferrari but by anyone. Prices have skyrocketed, and justifiably.
But the younger Ferrari 365 California has one trump card over the 250, and that is that they made about fifty 250s. For the 365 they only made fourteen, and with rarity comes coolness.
Images Copyright of Fiskens