FrontRunners: The Ferrari California

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The Ferrari California (www.ferrariusa.com) will not debut officially until October, at the Paris Motor Show, but prospective buyers can add their names now to the soon-to-be-overcrowded waiting list for the company’s first-ever convertible hardtop. The four-seat grand touring car—which will be approximately the same size and weight as a Porsche 911—will use a mid-front-mounted, direct-injected version of the F430’s 4.3-liter V-8 to develop 452 hp at 7,500 rpm. Coupled to a 7-speed, dual-clutch transmission, this engine will catapult the aluminum-bodied California from zero to 60 mph in less than four seconds. Carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes, a standard feature, should slow the car just as quickly, and the F1-Trac traction-control system—borrowed from the 599 GTB Fiorano—promises to keep the California from straying too far sideways. Intended as an entry-level model, the car likely will have a price that falls below the usual $200,000-plus admission into the Ferrari owners’ club. If so, California dreamin’ may never be so practical.

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