Ferrari California vs original 250 California

Published: 13 May 2008

Is the new Ferrari California a worthy successor to the original of the 1950s and ’60s? The 250 California is one of the most sought-after models ever to wear the Prancing Horse badge, especially in short-wheelbase form.

On first acquaintance with today’s first official photos of the California 2008-style, the newcomer clearly shares more than just a name with its brethren. Yes, both models were designed by Pininfarina (with a little help from Carrozzeria Scaglietti on the original) and there are numerous echoes of the 250 in the latest version: just look at the slatted grille, letterbox scoop atop the bonnet, shark gills and stepped rear wheel arch, bulging with menace.

Original design? Or artful copycat?

But there’s a sense that the 2008 model has broken into the archive cupboard at Maranello and plundered its design cues. Yes, yes, I know – we should all be circumspect until we see the real car in the metal, but this first glimpse makes me think it will go down as one of the significant Ferraris, if not the most beautiful.

Instead, what grabs me about the new California is its raft of new technology. Not the OTT Lexus IS-F style laddered exhaust pipes. More the seven-speed twin-clutch transaxle. The flat-plane crank V8’s direct injection. The apparently clever seating solution that flips between two and four pews.

It’s just a shame that the tech isn’t wrapped in a more delicious design. The last model was epically beautiful, even though it’s more famous for being the runaway wheels in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (at least it was supposed to be; in fact they filmed a replica). I just can’t somehow see the new California’s price rising sixfold to join the million-plus club in years to come. Not least because they won’t build just 36 like the original.

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By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet