The Ferrari California T might be on the lower rungs of the Ferrari lineup, but it was remarkable when it debuted, thanks to the two turbos strapped to its V8. This represented a shift in philosophy at Ferrari; it was the first turbocharged production car since the mighty F40. And while the California T is nowhere near the statement piece that the F40 was, those turbos helped the front-engined grand tourer achieve faster acceleration to 100 km/h and a quicker lap time of Fiorano than the F40, a remarkable feat for the entry-level Ferrari.

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Stylistically, Ferrari reworked almost every aspect of the California in creating the T. Great pains were taken to visually reduce the bulbous rear end into something sleeker and lower – notice how the rear decklid slopes gently downward instead of angling up. The front fascia was also revised to appear more angular and sharp than on the original California. Most reviewers found the updated styling to their liking.
Let’s get back to the mechanical elements of the car. 400 millilitres smaller than the California’s powerplant, the T’s 3.9 litre twin-turbocharged V8 produced 560 cv and 557 lb-ft of torque, or nearly 200 lb-ft more than the 4.3 litre from the California. Ferrari used a flat-plane crankshaft and direct injection to ensure the turbochargers didn’t diminish the character of the engine as compared to its naturally-aspirated predecessor. Top speed is an impressive 196 mph, while the 0 – 100 km/h acceleration dropped to 3.6 seconds, a few tenths lower than the naturally aspirated California was able to achieve. Car and Driver was even able to clock a 3.3-second run, so it’s clear that the turbos have turned the car into a much sprightlier vehicle.
One of the few elements unchanged from the prior car, the folding hardtop performs a fascinating routine to fold down into the trunk, a feat that is achieved in about 14 seconds. With equally impressive improvements made to the appearance as to the performance, the California T was an immediate hit when it debuted in 2014. Its turbocharged engine marked the dawn of a new era at Ferrari, with the 488GTB, GTC4Lusso, and Portofino to follow suit.

Andy’s Thoughts – The Ferrari California T

Ferrari took a huge gamble with the California T, but introducing a cheaper model that would appeal to a boarder market. Purists were swearing never to set foot in one as it was really a Maserati by name, while Tifosi were naming it the new Dino. The reality was that it was a true Ferrari, just different.

The original California did well to set the foundations for a usable Ferrari, and converted existing owners and attracted new ones. For the first time, small families were attracted to the brand, with a car with boot space and rear seats. Sure, Ferrari had always had a 2+2 on offer, but a whopping great big V12 is not to everyone’s liking.

But the success of the California and T has been amazing. Production is handled through its own production line, and the sales numbers will soon be passing 10,000 per annum.

Gladly though, the production of the California T has now come to an end. I say gladly not because the California is a bad car, but the replacing Portofino takes the design brief of the California and improves it in ways that were never envisaged to be a problem. That said, the California T silenced those naysayers who said this is not a real Ferrari. It is, and one that Enzo himself would have signed off on in his violet ink.