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    Richard Dredge

    Ferrari California Buyers’ Guide

    Posted in Cars on Tuesday, 30 July 2019

    Super Cali, Fragile Is It? Ferrari’s first-ever front-engined V8 car was its new entry-level model at launch over 10 years ago. With prices now falling down to around £70,000, should you take the plunge? Story by Richard Dredge. Images by Michael Ward.

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    Now fleeter of hoof / Ferrari’s Handling Speciale package sharpens California T / #2016 / #Ferrari-California-T / #Ferrari-California / #Ferrari

    Words Jethro Bovingdon / Photography Aston Parrot

    The California T (the first turbocharged Ferrari road car since the F40) makes up 30% of all Ferrari sales. Crucially, 50% of California customers are new to the Prancing Horse badge. Many go on to buy a more extreme mid-engined car such as the 488GTB, or take a giant stride up to Ferrari’s V12-engined GT cars. In other words, the accountants love it.

    Its 553bhp 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 makes it seriously fast yet, to those of us who equate the name with pin-sharp drivers’ cars and magnificent GTs, the California T can feel like a facsimile of the real thing rather than an authentic part of the family.

    The new Handling Speciale package looks to address that. It’s a £5568 option on top of the £155,230 list price and creates, we’re told, a much more exciting yet wholly civilised GT. Spring rates are up 16% at the front, 19% at the rear, the magnetorheological dampers are retuned, there’s a louder, sharper exhaust note, faster shifts for the seven-speed dual-clutch ’box, and the stability and traction control systems have been recalibrated.

    Firmer it might be but the ride remains more than acceptable when mooching. The exhaust note is well-judged, too: naughty enough but not embarrassingly loud, although there’s a shade more boom to it than in the standard car. The drivetrain has real quality though, with incredible throttle response for a turbocharged car.

    Up in the hills – real Ferrari country – the engine and ’box impress further. Upshifts are 30% faster and feel so much more precise, while downshifts are improved by a scarcely believable 40%. They feel pretty much instantaneous.

    Ferrari limits the V8’s massive torque, slowly revealing its true might as you click through the ratios and finally arrive at the full 557lb ft in seventh gear. It seems an odd deceit but actually it’s a stroke of genius, ensuring superb traction and a soaring normally aspirated style of delivery. For all that, the California T HS remains very much a GT rather than a blue-blooded sports car.

    Despite eye-popping performance, excellent brakes and a crackling soundtrack, the chassis is relatively soft. The balance is great but body control is less convincing and, in comparison to cars such as the cheaper Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet or Audi R8 (the Spider is coming), the HS just isn’t as locked down, as focused or as exciting. That wouldn’t be a problem if the HS had the elegance and majesty of a 250GT SWB California Spider, but it’s way short of that.

    So it remains a car for Ferrari’s accountants to enjoy and for those who wouldn’t know a California Spider if it ran them over but quite fancy a Mercedes SL-type car with a Ferrari badge. More committed drivers should keep saving for an F12 or slum it in an R8 Spider or 911 Turbo S Cabriolet instead.
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    Two of a Kind / #2016 #Ferrari-California-T / #Ferrari-California / #Ferrari vs. #2015 #Porsche-911-Targa-4S-Exclusive-Edition-991 / #Porsche-911-Targa-4S-991 #Porsche-911-Targa-4S-Exclusive-Edition / #Porsche-911-Targa-991 / #Porsche-911-991 / #Porsche-911 / #Porsche / – giant road test / #Porsche-991

    The brand values of Ferrari and Porsche are models like the California T and 911 Targa 4S 991-series enhanced. Wider drawn. And how!

    Such a Porsche 911 Targa was then determined no oogstreler. That crazy high roof with flat or centerpiece. And those moments' Targa' bracket, far too wide and too high. Moreover, such a removable roof panel raised the suggestion of releasing and cumbersome storage thunder that distracted from the essence of around 911. That being the sharpest and most aggressive German sports car. The Targa seemed therefore particularly one for poseurs and suntan lotion types. But perhaps the worst: police chose this Porsche. Equipped with fluorinated surfaces, flashing lights, sirens and megaphones, and indeed officials clownish pothelmpjes, they were provided on the friends of power and speed. No, a Porsche Targa could only with the greatest skepticism and reluctance to be viewed. In 1989 he disappeared.

    But then, so many years later, this new 911 Targa 4S. Low, wide ultra extended, and thanks to a much lower C-pillar also a much lower roofline with minimalist panorama cut diamond. A beast of a Porsche. Frankly ultimate Porsche beast. Here too in Exclusive Edition, with Gulf-blue paint, black semi-Fuchs wheels and distinctive fabric seat covers. Exactly what you do then, with your imagination as a weapon against the shame of what he was not, even though with pencil and paper made of. And behold, there he stands still. More beautiful and more brutal than you ever signed him.

    With a back that - world upside down - sure enough is better than that of the Coupé. You want him whatsoever. And nothing else. Those 140 kilos and those few extra horsepower less - what are we boxer with 400 horses on the way? - We send will benefit. And that compulsory four-wheel drive in the same way seen actually very rally racing sports. What an automobile!


    Something like 'converted keerds' the Ferrari California goes T. The type name 'California' debuted fifty-six years ago on a luxurious glamorous cabriolet based on the 250 SWB (Short Wheel Base) with front-mounted three-liter V12. He was reserved mainly for American clientele - read: Californian, Hollywood - who actually embraced the car. Of these, the witness now and then emerging ones that are invariably touted as ex-James Coburn 'or' ex-Sophia Loren.

    In 2008 the model name was once again on everyone's tongue when the new #Ferrari California at the #Paris-Motor-Show was introduced. No glamor model, but a compact coupé-cabriolet with motorized the front axle and a rear-mounted 4.3-liter V8, derived from the (just redeemed) '430'. A compact, classic and elegant appearance with an à la former California's semi-circular oval radiator grille, a slender nave and an uphill via a perky curve, massive tail party. Therein traditional dual round taillights, beneath just four modern stacked exhaust pipes. Ferrari wanted with this 2+2 California appeal to a wider audience, which is a success, as evidenced by high sales and the fact that seventy percent of the clientele appeared to be foreign brand. Half of the buyers revealed that Ferrari also put in daily.

    But from this model year is the Ferrari California nevertheless changed dramatically. A more dramatic nose party grille mouth and sharp spoiler lip, higher and higher into the front wings sweeping headlamp units, true ventilation grilles in the front fender sides, additional curved sill skirts under the doors and under the tail part of the aluminum partitions of a large diffuser. With aside two of them twice, now adjacent exhaust pipes. That simple 'T', however, suggests the most dramatic change, also causes other changes: the use of turbocharging. Two twin scroll variable boost exhaust gas turbines, one under each cylinder bank. The displacement of the V8 turns reduced to 3.9 liters, which also has to do with Asian markets that prohibit displacements of four liters or more or idiot burden. Nevertheless, there are no less than 70 horsepower and an almost unbelievable 270 Newton meters more at precisely 20% less CO2 emissions. A miracle. Despite all that anyway weather turbulence among car enthusiasts. "Even Ferrari is now on its knees with turbocharging 'and' farewell to a sharp and especially the real Ferrari sound." Laity talk. Everything is exactly the opposite.

    Grotesque SPECTACLE

    The Porsche Targa 4S is one of the current twenty variations on the theme of '911' and owes its existence as much to America. Namely the roll-over protection requirements that the debuting in the US in 1964 911 Coupé in any open design had to meet. Already in 1965 the Germans introduced the first Targa, including typical roll bar with and a rear section. In 1967 finally appeared the version with hard roof panel and fixed rear window. That 'Targa' (Italian for 'arms') Porsche actually took the Italian mountain Targa Florio race in Sicily with its numerous sharp curves, where the relatively small Porsches in all respects 'real' brands.

    Of unlocking, removable and "storage thunder 'absence at the Porsche 911 Targa 4S Exclusive Edition, nor in our Ferrari California T, with their automatic. A grotesque spectacle of themselves cascading, founding, then collapsing and finally roof panels. Sees California T in the closed position as an aggressive sports coupe, then he turns into fourteen seconds into a really gentle glamor convertible. The Porsche swaps in just twenty seconds of icy street fighter in a rugged Carrera Panamericana race car.

    Routing ACTION

    It must be said: Targa-driving is still the best way of open driving. The feeling of sporty security and protection enclosed (quite comfortable with 400bhp and a top speed of 294!), Also an appropriate kind of discretion, while in the meantime not perish from the din and your hair also not vertically sucked out of your skull. And yes: the 911 Targa 4S drives superior.

    Even though he weighs his roof and four-wheel drive so something more. And it was for that reason provide a more comfortable suspension. Nothing to criticize. The Porsche Targa is and remains a tough, stiff and fierce sports, whether or not through a button, by the way, also one of the most beautiful car sounds. The bright his boxer, with a center console button strengthen even for once again overwhelming Targa occur. He's no different than if four-wheel drive available. Under normal circumstances, however power to the rear wheels only when excessive use any surplus power optimally distributed under the direction of the Porsche Traction Management, the Porsche Stability Management oversees the handling. Now a 911 anyway a car that has been on the primary drive wheels resting motor weight optimal grip under sporting conditions. But the relatively light nose is high (cornering) speeds through the front wheels to auxiliary beautifully drawn in line. Ergo: there are extremely high cornering speeds. The Porsche incidentally feels obvious 'right' without much feedback, where you realize that the limit range might not be immediately noticeable. He has less power and torque than the Ferrari, but it absolutely does not feel that way. The 911 Targa, with its 400 horses atmospheric very fierce and very rampant hard to insane speeds accelerating sports car. Again via seven flashy PDK gear changes. You feel the grimace on your face, as 'bad' the excess, the explosions of power and speed. With that rock-hard six-cylinder boxer sound. Throughout your Targa arch.

    The Ferrari California T stores after pressing the red start button on the steering wheel with a raucous roar and walks hoarse booming stationary. On the center console another button, which "1" switches on and we just need to give gas to drive away. The engine blows overwhelming and the robotic bin flies straight through a gear or two, three. When lightning expired shift points. Seamless. And each followed by a greedy grab by. Manually via steering wheel paddles break is always possible leaving soon creates a very obvious mixed use. Naturally automatically switching if traffic is busy, and once the trail is open but equally, you are going pinball again. You're really "in" the Ferrari. Not only with the roof on it, but even open driving. How exposé you are. A clear sunken seating position in the 'Daytona' sport tubs, overlooking the high artistic and dashboard with its beautiful curving shapes and colorful instrumentation. The different Ferrari nameplates and prancing horses will make you 'in a Ferrari driving' realizes constantly happy.

    The California T runs effortlessly and comfortably. Calm, or torrid hard. No need or urge to turn into another driving mode via the Manettino. If you do this, and then you go to sports, then there will be a clear artificial nervousness and anguish on to possibly freer ESP. After which small cross jokes can be made. The surprising thing is that even in Sport California remains nicely to move several axes and you know exactly what kind of jokes.

    JUST '320'

    The acceleration of the California T is moreover nothing less than sensational. With right merciless Newton meter-waves that are the result of a deliberate phased torque due to the exhaust gas turbines. Building in the first three 'sprint'-speeds up to 555 Newton meters torque for optimal (off) acceleration, while that flock each successive acceleration with jumps of 20 and 50 percent increases to finally that record high 755 Newton meters at' 7 '. Which incidentally had a longer transmission. The philosophy behind this is, according to Ferrari expressly multiple. Firstly, the initial acceleration are continuous, while at higher speeds more torque becomes available as rolling and air resistance increases exponentially. Meanwhile, in the highest gear also mentions the minimum speed and thus lower fuel consumption and less CO2 emissions. You can tell them what you want, for example, that you are not in a Ferrari waiting for this kind of castration, but there is been a highly technical race system with ditto effect. The harder you ride with California T, the more dramatic the increase of forces is palpable. Especially in '6' and more in '7' on the way to and at high speeds. There is no kind of compromise palpable. On the contrary. Realize also that this "cheapest and least powerful Ferrari because of a simply tapping on top of '320' is one of the fastest cars in the world.

    Because of its power curve, the outstanding precision - electrically assisted - control and the well palpable chassis Ferrari let them ride perfect. A sports car that allows even opposite supercars can no longer be acted mercilessly. With all assistance systems off you'll California at its purest. Nothing helps. Literally not. But just then felt how good the set-up. A long time a lot of grip, even full of curves and insturend from accelerating, thanks to an electronic locking effect on the differential, which is just so cooperative in breaking that grip and making slides. The sound that makes up to speed hunted biturbo V8 with its flat-plane crankshaft, a hard pruning wail. So that you're almost embarrassed.


    Notwithstanding the justifiable elation about the Ferrari is hard going in the Porsche Targa 4S still a much purer emotion. No turbos, no torque wave, no manettino's, and maybe not the emotional burden of the Ferrari-driving. It is boarding behind a black dashboard, in addition to your high and wide center console with intuitive to find buttons and controls. All in the same color and style, and thick Germanic quality. And for the rest, going with the Targa. The Porsche has a robotic-system who does everything, and thereby sounds like a racing car. With cornering thanks to the variable-wheel-drive-footed handling. In terms of border reach you, until maybe once a track day, but just blindly rely on the handling systems.

    The speed sensation can actually come for nothing. We rode the California and the Targa also side by side, up and in. Of course the Ferrari ran with its surplus power bit. But it's not much. Not so much that it does not 'make adjustments' would be. Here, too, will be able to provide a circuit day outcome. But applies to everything: and so what?

    The Porsche Targa 4S and the Ferrari California T are precisely what they are not, clear statements. Not necessarily the biggest, strongest and most expensive within the range of their creators, but meanwhile formidable useful machines. Each also their unique way of metamorphosis. Perhaps the most beautiful side of the same. They are, in effect, 'money launderers' of intensive racing that both sports racing car factories are guilty, but that they deserve through these types of cars. And owe their existence.

    Must still be said which of the two we prefer? The Porsche Targa naturally. Laundering of personal passion.


    Engine rear-mounted 3.8 liter six-cylinder boxer 400bhp / 294 kW DIN at 7400 rpm, 440 Nm at 5600 rpm
    Transmission Robot seven-speed PDK gearbox with two-plate clutch, variable all-wheel drive through Porsche Traction Management
    Dimensions in cm 449 x 185 x 129
    Wheelbase in cm 245
    Weight in kg in 1575
    0-62MPH sec. 4.6
    Top 294kph
    Consumption in l / 100 km 9.2
    CO2 emissions in g / km 214
    Price in Euro 164 475
    Price test car in Euro 226 667
    Options test car include Exclusive Edition Package Gulf-blue paint, adaptive sports seats 'Plus' with 'Pepita' leather finish, LED headlamps with black reflectors and Porsche Dynamic Light System, sport exhaust, Sport Chrono Package Plus


    Front mounted engine 3.9-liter V8 biturbo, 560bhp / 412 kW at 7,500rpm, 755 Nm at 4750 rpm
    Transmission Robot, mechanical seven-speed F1 gearbox with two-plate clutch, rear-wheel drive
    Dimensions in cm 457 x 191 x 132 cm
    Wheelbase 267 in
    Weight in kg in 1625
    0-62MPH sec. 3.6
    Max speed 316KPH
    Fuel consumption in litres / 100km 10.5
    km CO2 emissions in g / km 250
    Price in Euro from 223,523
    Price test car in Euro 265,309
    Options test car includes' MagneRide Dual Mode 'wheel suspension, 20-inch wheels with Diamond Sport Style Finish, two-tone exterior color, Scuderia Ferrari logo shields "Daytona style 'electrically adjustable comfort seats.
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    TURBO HERO #2015 #René-Arnoux appreciates the #Ferrari-California T’s performance and ease of drive. #Ferrari-California-T

    In the late 1970s, René Arnoux was one of the pioneering drivers of the turbo age, with its powerful, but always tricky to control, engines. After taking the California T out for a drive, we asked him to compare the past with the easy, enjoyable turbo technology of today.

    I don’t smoke,’ says René Arnoux, ‘but in those early turbocharged Formula One cars, after you put your foot flat to the floor, it felt like you had time to reach for your cigarettes, strike a match, and have a quick puff before the power arrived. In the very early cars you would wait maybe two, two and a half seconds. So I had to learn all over again how to drive a racing car.

    ‘As soon as I turned into the corner I would go flat on the gas, so that the power would arrive in time for the exit. And when it did arrive, you lifted off the gas again, because it came so strong that, unless you were on qualifying tyres, it would spin the wheels, even in fifth gear. It was a very exciting era to be a racing driver. But very difficult too.’

    Formula One’s first turbo era is often described as its wildest, and René Arnoux as one of its fastest drivers. At its peak, the cars were producing more than 1,000hp in qualifying trim from tiny 1.5-litre engines. A qualifying engine could be a molten mess after 10 laps; a set of qualifying tyres destroyed after just two. The engines developed so much torque that they could twist driveshafts and spin the wheels inside their tyres. The early engines suffered the worst of the “lag” that Arnoux describes. At low revs, they were just small engines with a few hundred horsepower: ‘a one and a half litre engine with low compression: nothing.’ But as the turbos spooled up, the power arrived with a bang. ‘Suddenly, 650 horsepower.’ Other drivers spoke of aiming their cars, not driving them. However, F1’s wildest age was also among its most fertile. The engines made huge leaps not only in power, but in driveability and reliability too. Chassis engineers worked fast to deploy the vast output of the engines. Turbocharging may have been dropped in 1989, but the other advances made in that era (carbon-fibre monocoques, disc brakes and electronic gear shifting) have been with us ever since, and define modern F1 and the highest-performance road cars.

    And now, of course, turbocharging is back. Last season, a quarter of a century after it was written out of the rules, it returned to F1 with the new 1.6-litre hybrid engines. In road models, allied with direct injection, turbocharging is enabling carmakers to continue to increase performance while reducing emissions and fuel consumption; not only in high-performance cars like the Ferrari California T and the new 488 GTB, but in mainstream models that sell by the million too. The reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will be significant, and the technology that enables it was pioneered in those 1,000hp monsters of the 1980s. Forced induction had been permitted by F1 since 1966, but at first it was impossible to make a 1.5-litre turbocharged or supercharged engine powerful and reliable enough to compete with the 3.0-litre naturally aspirated engines. Renault tried first, in #1977 , but it wasn’t ready, and its turbocharged cars failed to finish a race that first season.

    Ferrari was also busy experimenting with forced induction, using a 120-degree, 1.4-litre V6 block similar to that used in the 1961 Sharknose. The tiny V6 had engineering advantages over both the 3.0-litre flat-12 it would replace, and the inline fours, which some of its closest rivals adopted for their turbocharged engines.

    Ferrari examined supercharging too, and built the experimental 126CX F1 car with a Comprex supercharger. However, it decided to go racing with the 126CK; the “K” standing for the twin KKK turbochargers, which gave the little V6 at least 570hp in its first season. The Scuderia teased the tifosi by sending Gilles Villeneuve out in the turbo car during practice for the 1980 Italian Grand Prix at Imola. It didn’t make its race debut until #1981 , but Villeneuve set a time 0.6sec faster than his best in the flat-12 powered 312T5 he drove in the race.

    Expectations were raised, but the 1981 season didn’t meet them. Villeneuve scored back-to-back wins at Monaco and Jarama, the Scuderia’s first with turbocharging, but neither driver nor team challenged for the championship. The 1982 season was different; one of success and utter despair. On 8 May, Villeneuve was killed during qualifying at Zolder, and Didier Pironi was badly injured, again in qualifying, at the Hockenheimring. In a closefought season, the Scuderia won the Constructors Title, but there was no rejoicing in #Maranello .

    The Financial Times later wrote that this first World Championship for a turbocharged car marked the turbo era’s “coming of age”. Arnoux, then aged 34, joined Ferrari for the 1983 season, partnering Patrick Tambay. He found a car that was already much improved over the Renaults he had raced from 1978. ‘The lag was much less, now maybe just a second or so,’ he says. ‘And the engine was much stronger on the power, because Mr Ferrari liked the motor to be strong.’

    ‘What I liked most about Ferrari was that everything – the engine, gearbox, chassis, everything – was made in the factory. If I wasn’t on the track at Fiorano testing the car, I would be in the factory, watching it being made. The other cars at the time had a Hewland gearbox, which was very heavy to use, but Ferrari made its own, which was easy, precise, soft and quick.

    ‘At Monaco you changed gear 72 times each lap, for 78 laps. You only had one hand on the wheel, and these cars were so brutal to drive, so physical. Sometimes the winner had difficulty climbing to the top of the podium and staying on his feet. But when a constructor gives you a part like that, your performance is better, and you finish the race in better condition physically.’

    Arnoux remained in contention for the World Championship until the final race. He finished third and Tambay fourth, but the pair delivered Ferrari’s second consecutive Constructors Title. ‘Every year the car got faster and easier to drive.

    By the end of the season, we might have 70hp more than we started with. The speed of development was incredible. There was no restriction on testing then, and at Ferrari you just opened the door of the factory and there was Fiorano. Every week there was something new to test. It seemed normal that every time we tested there would be another 10hp, or a new improvement to the chassis or brakes.’

    However, despite the advances, McLaren was dominant in 1984; Ferrari finished second, and Arnoux sixth in the drivers’ standings. His finest moment was an extraordinary Dallas Grand Prix in which he scythed from the back of the grid up to second place, his white helmet cocked forward in the red car, suggesting the intensity with which he always drove. And he would have caught the leader Keke Rosberg had there been just a few more laps. Ferrari was starting to apply what it was learning in F1 to its road cars. The 1984 288 GTO was the first of the “specials”, a line that continues to the LaFerrari. Its 400hp, 2.8-litre V8 was Ferrari’s first turbocharged road car, and its use of composites in the chassis drew on Ferrari’s experiences in the 1982 F1 season. ‘We applied pure F1 technology to two components in this car,’ Scuderia Technical Director Harvey Postlethwaite said at the time, ‘and some principles to lots of body components. The racing department is directly responsible.’

    Arnoux agrees. ‘Those cars were not so different to my F1 car. I can’t take any credit for developing them. Sometimes if I was testing at Fiorano and we took a break, Dario Benuzzi [the former Chief Test Driver] would ask me to take a road car out for a few laps. They were so exciting to drive and people love them. After I left Ferrari I bought an F40 for my own use. But the way the power arrived, you had to be skilled to drive them. I actually thought maybe customers should learn how to use it first.’

    Formula One cars developed even faster over their short first incarnation. Arnoux left Ferrari in 1985. By #1986 the turbo era was at its peak, with turbocharging compulsory and no restriction on boost. The F1-86 had (officially) 850hp in race trim and in excess of 1,000hp in qualifying, but those figures are probably conservative. The next two years saw boost and fuel limited, and naturally aspirated engines reintroduced. Turbos were banned for the #1989 season. Arnoux retired at the end of that year, with only his first and last ever seasons spent in non-turbo cars. ‘It was a technologically interesting time, but if we had kept going like this we would have had engines with 2,000hp.’

    I ask him if he thinks that would have been a bad thing. ‘At the end of the turbo era I was told I had been closer to 1,500hp in qualifying. That was enough. Nobody who ever got to drive one of those cars will forget it. I was lucky enough to test two of Michael Schumacher’s Ferraris and although it was still difficult to go fast, the car was better to drive than mine, more comfortable and easier to brake. It was still easy to make a mistake, but I think it was easier to make a mistake in mine.

    ‘Michael tested one of mine at Fiorano. He didn’t just do 10 laps: he stayed out there for hours, and when he finally got out, he said, “Whoever raced those cars back then was completely crazy.” Well, there were some big characters in F1 in my time. But the cars were the biggest characters of all.’ And the California T? Arnoux grins. The car’s sublime ease of use and powerful aspirated engine has clearly found a new fan. Is it better than that old F40 of his? ‘Oh, it’s totally different. Like night and day. It’s really easy to drive. The power comes without a delay. It doesn’t stop, and if you lift and then go back on the throttle, it’s always there. You only know it’s a turbo because it has lots of power and torque. You could easily think it was naturally aspirated. The difference is incredible.’

    “Incredible. The California T’s power just doesn’t stop”

    Arnoux pictured today in typically genial mood. The former #F1 driver greatly appreciated the quick response of the California T’s turbo engine while driving on the roads near Geneva.

    Some of the most signi!icant images from René Arnoux’s career, including, above right, with Gilles Villeneuve, with whom he fought an epic duel at Dijon; far right, in action during the 1983 season, when he won the Canadian, German and Dutch Grands Prix; above, with his countrymen Patrick Tambay and #Alain-Prost .

    Arnoux at the wheel of a modern-day turbo: the California T. Above, right, during his days as a driver at #Ferrari in #1983 and #1984 .
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    Jay Leno
    Jay Leno updated the group cover
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    Jay Leno
    Jay Leno created a new group Ferrari California
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