2009 Ferrari California First Drive

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When you conjure images of California in your mind, you might see something markedly different from a generation before ours. Golden beaches? How about pollution? The promised land? How about the land of the promissory note?

Wherever you sit on the "California dream" spectrum, there's not much doubt that, after a day's drive in the new Ferrari California, you'll be dreaming about one thing--how to cut one from the herd and keep it in the garage until the Feds go away.

While Los Angeles drizzles this week in a rainy post-auto-show funk, we've got a remedy for you. Not one with jail time, either. Last Friday, MotorAuthority took up Ferrari on the offer of an exclusive day with a $216,533 California in its second home. We snapped up the chance to run up to the hills north of the city and wind the four-seat hardtop convertible out along Mulholland Drive and the Malibu shores, and did it all without having to resort to a 125-percent refinancing.

The California represents a lot of things for Ferrari. Whether you think it's a ladylike replacement for the Magnum P.I.-vintage Ferrari 308 GTS, or something far more serious, it's hard to argue that the California pleases lots of crowds--from casual Beverly Hills poseurs to the lucky few that already own a 599GTB or a 612 Scaglietti.

And yet, it's been snubbed as the "Lexus SC" of Ferraris because it seats four, folds down its top, and can swallow a car seat, if need be. But few of those catcalls survive a high-speed strafing down Mulholland and Latigo Canyon Road. The Ferrari mystique breathes this new convertible to life, from the six-digit chassis number, to the muscular V-8 and the metallic prancing horse on the grille. It's in every nanometer-wide molecule of EMT-red paint.

Enough of the words, for now. Last week, you followed our drive on Twitter--and today we're bringing you our road test in photo-essay form. Come along with us in the latest four-seat Ferrari as we grab some asphalt in the 2009 California:

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