The California T Handling Speciale relaunches Ferrari Adelaide

Cali_HS_AGR (6)How should you celebrate the completion of some renovations? Maybe have a few friends around, a couple of drinks with some music in the background? Maybe have some potato bake even.

Cali_HS_AGR (20)Things are a little different when you’re the Adelaide agent for the world’s pre-eminent sports and supercar manufacturer, and especially when there’s an updated model looming. With a rebuild of its West Terrace premises complete, Ferrari Adelaide recently hosted Adelaide’s ferrarista for an evening of showroom and workshop tours, and the unveiling of the new California T Handling Speciale.

Cali_HS_AGRIt was a pleasant and unexpected surprise to arrive and be greeted by our next-door neighbor, Adam, who has just started as the second Ferrari tech at Ferrari Adelaide. But I guess this is still Adelaide, and these sort of encounters should be expected by now.

Cali_HS_AGR (1)Lining the red carpet entrance was a brief and visually arresting summary of the current state-of-art V8 Ferrari’s. On the left sat the fixed-roof 488 GTB and 458 Speciale…

Cali_HS_AGR (2)… and on the right their open-topped counterparts, the 488 Spider and 458 Speciale Aperta.

Cali_HS_AGR (5)We snacked on some pretty incredible hors d vour and French champagne, until the din of conversation was broken by short speeches from Ferrari Adelaide General Manager Kym McInerney and Ferrari Australasia CEO Herbert Appleroth.

Cali_HS_AGR (21)Tunes were spun by Fresh 92.7 DJ, dancer and runner Ryley…

Cali_HS_AGR (22)… and the cocktails were handled by the team from Campari Australia. As a side note, it’s almost impossible to take a decent photo when the ambient light is red.

Cali_HS_AGR (4)Cali_HS_AGR (7)After the speeches were done the red silk sheet was pulled away, revealing a California T that looks pretty much exactly the same as what we’ve already seen (and driven).

Cali_HS_AGR (16)But the best parts, and what makes the Handling Speciale option pack such a worthwhile improvement, is what lies under the skin. The $15,400 option pack is filled with subtle and carefully executed modifications designed to reorientate the California ever so slightly away from its boulevard GT origins, and more toward the serious sports car spectrum.

Cali_HS_AGR (17)The exhaust is louder, particularly in the upper reaches of the rev-range, the suspension is stiffer (16 percent at the front, 19 percent at the rear), the already blisteringly quick F1 paddle shift transmission has been recalibrated for even faster shifting (30 percent faster up, 40 percent down) and there are stickier Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres fitted. The magnetorheological dampers are retuned for the stiffer springs, too. Anyone who’s ever perused a Ferrari options list would surely agree that a shade over fifteen grand is (in Ferrari terms at least) quite a bargain for a pack that promises to change the car’s character so markedly.

Cali_HS_AGR (15)And being a California, there’s space enough to share the experience with three of your closest friends! Just.

Cali_HS_AGR (11)Away from the cars, the showroom has several off-shooting rooms dedicated to the various aspects of choosing, speccing, owning and servicing a Ferrari.

Cali_HS_AGR (9)Cali_HS_AGR (10)One room is dedicated to the various colour and trim combinations on offer, and it’s impossible to walk around without enduring mental deliberations about the exact spec of your own Ferrari, should you be in the position to build one. In the end I decided that I’m very much a traditionalist – if you couldn’t spec an F40 that way, then you need to be very careful about doing it to a new one.

Cali_HS_AGR (13)Cali_HS_AGR (14)One corner housed a small historical library on the subject of Ferrari, and I was very impressed by the depth of the collection. It was good to see not only famous drivers covered, but engineers too. Giotto Bizzarrini of course being Ferrari’s chief engineer in the fifties and responsible for the most famous Ferrari of them all – the 250 GTO.

Cali_HS_AGR (29)Another door lead through to the service department, and housed a small collection of Ferrari paraphernalia and accessories.

Cali_HS_AGR (27)The brochure on Ferrari’s Corse Clienti program was by far the most interesting, listing everything from the ‘bring-your-458-and-do-some-slaloms’ program all the way to the ‘buy-an-old-Ferrari-F1-or-an-FXXK-and-we’ll-ship-it-around-the-world-and-run-it-for-you’ packages. Arguably more attainable (barely) and just as enticing was the Ferrari Challenge race school, which can take you all the way from classroom courses through the one-make Challenge series to a race start in the Spa 24 or Le Mans 24hr.

Cali_HS_AGR (30)There were various accessories available in the cabinet, the most exciting of course being a Ferrari Datarace camera/telemetry system. It plugs directly into the ECU of your Ferrari and overlays all of the relevant data over the onboard footage that it records, whilst displaying live GPS based laptime information on the black screen in realtime.

Cali_HS_AGR (23)In the workshop sat another pair of 458 Speciale’s, a 355, a 599 GTB Fiorano…

Cali_HS_AGR (24)… and an immaculate 308 GTSi.

Cali_HS_AGR (26)Cali_HS_AGR (25)In the workshop entrance foyer sat a Testarossa and yet another 458 Speciale.

Cali_HS_AGR (19)I guess in contrast to other building developments taking place in Adelaide, like the Hospital or the Medical Research Institute or even Adelaide Oval and the riverbank precinct, a new Ferrari showroom isn’t exactly a piece of infrastructure that will benefit most people in South Australia. But it is a reflection of what’s happening in our state, and an indirect indication that business confidence might finally be heading north. There aren’t Ferrari dealerships opening in every city and town around the world.

Cali_HS_AGR (18)Okay, so it’s a tenuous link at best. But as lovers of fine automotive engineering and as people who can appreciate the gruff wail of a Ferrari V8 or V12 being given a short stab every so often, we’re all indirect beneficiaries of more Ferrari’s on our streets.

Cali_HS_AGR (8)Words and photos by Andrew Coles

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1 Comment

  1. Richard Warland September 4, 2016 Reply

    Ottimo da vedere!

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