All California T, No Shade.

All California T, No Shade.

From the moment I first drove the Ferrari California T about eighteen months ago, I was in love, and I was surprised.  I liked the previous “modern” iterations of this car – there were two, in 2008 and 2012 – but neither actually brought me to the point of doing the math in my head to evaluate whether I could somehow afford one of my very own. I can’t, but I still run the math every couple of days just to be absolutely sure. 

All images by Michael Shaffer for Ferrari North America. Brian Sacawa of HeSpokeStyle featured here. 

As a publicist, I’m always honest about the product I’m working with, yet even so my telling the media how good something is won’t convince them – they have to experience it for themselves. For those who know cars and know the T, the majority will tell you this is the finest open-top GT money can buy. And I whole-heartedly agree. But why?

It all starts with the engine which, despite the naysayers who speculated that Ferrari’s decision to turbocharge its new 3.9 liter V8 (which also powers the 488 GTB and Spider) was a mistake, it is in fact a revelation. The sound is rich and full of bass, accompanied by whistling crescendos as the turbos build boost and the wastegates snap between gears, the wonderful torque surging you past anything and everything you chose to put behind you in a hurry. Its authority on the road is backed-up by the dual-mode Magneride suspension – one of the T’s few extra-cost options I consider mandatory (together with the HiFi stereo upgrade)  – which never misses a step, giving just enough compliance to smooth broken roads, yet also the taughtness, grip and control to enjoy twisty roads at unthinkable speeds. Largely because the V8 is mounted aft of the front axle – the T is “front mid-engined” – it’s beautifully balanced, and steers directly and precisely as told by its driver. Carbon ceramic brakes are standard on the T (as with all Ferraris).

And it looks great doing it, its design crisp yet aggressive, top open or closed. Together with the beautiful, top quality interior, and the dash of practicality provided by its two small rear seats, there’s a rare, well-rounded sense of purpose and cohesion to the California T. There is value, too, and before anyone scoffs at the idea that the $198,973 base price is a bargain – and yes, specifying interior options such as carbon fiber and special leather and stitching can easily push the price above $250k – consider that the T is priced below those in its competitive set including the Bentley Continental Convertible, Aston Martin DB9 Volante, and Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. Yet none of them combine looks, performance, and a sense of occasion like the California T. And none of them are a Ferrari.