Ferrari at the Paris motor show 2008

Published: 02 October 2008

The big news at Ferrari was the California – Maranello’s first coupe convertible and its first car to feature a dual-clutch semi-auto gearbox. Parked alongside the Ferrari F1 car, it looked more purposeful than we expected – though all the motor show cars were, tellingly, displayed roof down. But does anyone else find that front end treatment un peu Peugeot?

Tell me more about the Ferrari California

Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo seemed particularly keen to stress two things: firstly, that another Ferrari wouldn’t de-value the brand and, secondly, that the California was a man’s car that was developed by Michael Schumacher and capable of hitting 62mph in 3.9sec. It could be driven by the wife, he admitted, but she’d have to be very careful. In fact, 25 percent of Chinese customers will be female.

So, demand for the 460hp, front-engined V8 will continue to outstrip supply with all of the 2009 and 2010 production cars already accounted for. Despite that, no more than 2800 cars will be produced in 2009 and, stressed Di Montezemolo, they’d be spread across even more markets than ever before – even Taiwan and Romania getting a mention – ensuring the firm’s products wouldn’t seem any more ubiquitous. Deliveries will begin in January 2009.

What else is new on the Ferrari stand?

Diddly squat, but it’s hard to tire of the F430 Spyder, Scuderia and 599 – if not the 612. There was no sign of the Mille Chili concept car Ferrari used to showcase its more environmentally focused future. Di Montezemolo’s only nod to matters environmental was that the California produced 305g/km, which is ‘more or less the best for this segment’. Mmm, not exactly a big segment, is it?

CAR’S verdict: Ferrari at the Paris motor show 2008

This time last year we were lapping Fiorano in a Scuderia. That’s a tough act to follow, and the California can’t get our juices flowing like the track-honed F430 did. However, the California still has the Ferrari wow factor, has tapped into a lucrative niche and, at a time when everything from Bentley to Citroen sales are slowing, will continue to boost profits for Maranello. Hardcore fans might not get it, but it makes a lot of sense.

Click here for up to the minute Paris motor show 2008 live reports

Click here for the previews and review: Guide to all cars

Paris motor show 2008


By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator