On The Road

Ferrari California

The car that says money: The Ferrari California appeals to the mega-rich of our carbon conscious 21st century ... people so wealthy that when the oil runs out they will be able to insulate their penthouses with spare banknotes

Warning: use of the word "zeitgeist" approaching. For the first time in years, perhaps decades, it is the Italians not the Germans, Japanese or French who have captured the automotive zeitgeist. First, Fiat did it with the 500 and now here comes the staggering Ferrari California, unveiled last week.



Let's take the Fiat first. This is the car as celebrity – the defining word of our age. It is a nostalgic, sentimental throwback, like going to a roller disco or listening to Gilbert O'Sullivan. We chuckle when we see one, and they make owners feel better about CO2 emissions (kind of carbon feel-good offsetting). Ownership of a 500 says, I am cool but I don't take myself too seriously, and I need you to like me. Please.

The California reaches out to the remote polar opposite of the 21st century's economic demographic: people so rich that when the fuel runs out, they will be able to insulate their penthouses and fuel their yachts with spare banknotes. They are a new breed of obscenely mega-rich (your Russians, your hedge funders, Chris Evans), who are apparently immune to the vagaries of global economics, and very, very demanding when it comes to their cars. So the California is the first four-seater convertible Ferrari since the Mondial, and the first Ferrari to have a folding hard top and, thus, the first to go head to head with the Peugeot 307cc.

Purists are up in arms, their default setting. A folding hard top adds weight, blunts performance and compromises handling, or at least it is supposed to. But the people at Ferrari haven't made a duff car since the 348. From the 355 onwards, each model has trumped the previous one in terms of technological prowess, performance and handling. And, dare we say, the California looks good with the hood up.

It is unlikely to trouble a Porsche Turbo on a track. However, buyers will be less concerned about razor-sharp performance than they will be about looking cool – out goes the head-banging, race-bred paddle shift, in comes a smoother, Audi TT-style dual clutch system. And, judging by the bustle-style rump, these owners are expected to play golf. Probably on their own courses.

So, what will a California say about its owner? The only thing that's going to matter in the long run: money.

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
news
Environment
Fungi pose the biggest threat globally and in the UK, where they threaten the country’s wheat and potato harvests
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Consultants - IT - Trainee / Experienced

    £20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40-50K first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

    Primary teachers needed for supply in Huntingdon

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers need...

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    KS2 Teacher Plymouth

    £21500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone