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Friday, September 19, 2008

Ferrari California Debuts at Maranello Factory

Ferrari California

In a live webcast from its sparkling new factory in Maranello, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo officially introduced Ferrari's latest model, the California, to the tune of "California Dreamin" by The Mamas and the Papas.

Amidst all the speeches and fanfare, we weren't able to learn much more about the car itself. We already knew that it has a 4.3L direct-injected V-8 that makes 460 hp under the hood and that it sprints to 62 mph in under four seconds. We knew it's stopped by massive carbon-ceramic brakes clamped by Brembo calipers and features Ferrari's first dual-clutch gearbox along with its F1-Trac traction control system.

What we did learn, however, is that it will produce 1.08 lb/mile of CO2. Although on the high side, Ferrari says that the figure represents a 30% reduction over previous models. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox took Ferrari four years to develop and the third-generation F1-Trac traction control system has been updated with new programming for rainy conditions. Ferrari also confirmed that the car will ride on third-generation magneto-rheological shocks, and that it will be available in at least two colors, the classic Ferrari Red and a blue-ish silver metallic.

The event featured Ferrari Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher as well as current drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. In pre-event interviews, each had a slightly different take on the car. Schumi, who had been a part of its development since day one and has already driven it, was happy to report that it's a true sports car that's also easy to live with on a daily basis. Massa hasn't taken it for a spin yet, but loves it as well. Raikkonen, in his traditional exuberant style, said he likes it, but will reserve full judgment until he's had a chance to drive it.

As for di Montezemolo, he loves the car. In explaining his instructions to the design team to the audience, di Montezemolo remarked that "Ferrari has to be a good looking woman, we have to like her." Di Montezemolo was in such a good mood after praising the car, every member of the design team, the late Phil Hill and Andrea Pininfarina, and all three drivers that he decided to take a shot at the driver one point ahead of Massa in the F1 standings. Without mentioning said driver, Lewis Hamilton, and his McLaren-Mercedes team by name, di Montezemolo remarked that Ferrari was "proud to provide technology to the Germans," a reference to last year's scandal in which the McLaren-Mercedes team was found to be in possession of secret Ferrari race car specifications.

Pot shots and long-winded speeches aside, not much was gleaned from the official unveiling, so it's likely we'll have to wait until the California's debut at the Paris Motor Show next month to find out anything more. For now, you can see more of the California in video clips created by movie director Michael Mann at Stay tuned to for full coverage of the Ferrari California and the Paris Motor Show.

Source: Ferrari