I’ve always liked the Ferrari California. Why? For one, it drives like a Ferrari. Seriously: it’s small, it’s quick and the handling and suspension are tuned precisely as you’d expect from a Ferrari, which is to say that it’s a lot like a Lamborghini or a Porsche but you believe it’s way better because it has a Ferrari badge.
It also sounds like a Ferrari. Even with the stock exhaust, jamming the throttle on the California unleashes exactly the sound you want from Italy’s finest. This seems counterintuitive considering the California is a front-engined four-seater, but it’s true. For proof, just ask a California driver to rev the engine at a traffic light, presuming you can get her to stop applying makeup.
And then there’s the styling. You’ll note I didn’t say I love the California.
I don’t mind the styling too much, save for the rear end. It’s way to big and it’s separated into levels as if it were a condo complex. But the worst part is by far the brake lights.
You see, Ferrari designed the car with the idea of making brake lights out of the circles. But somewhere along the way, Ferrari North America reminded them that brake lights, by federal law, cannot be on a movable body part. Since the circles are mounted on the rear decklid, they wouldn’t work.
This sent Ferrari scrambling back to the drawing board, which was probably an actual drawing board, where they came up with the idea you see in the attached photo. Yes, that’s right: the circles don’t light up. Instead, the tiny little lights right above the exhaust light up. They’re not LED, their brightness varies widely (in the photo, the left one is brighter) and because they’re not the circles, people always think the California’s brake lights are out.
They’re not. It’s just bad design on an otherwise likeable – and not lovable – car.