I’ve been driving sports cars on Marmot Road since 1969.

That was the year I moved from San Francisco to Portland to attend Reed College.

Over the past decades, I’ve discovered a variety of ways to go from my home, loop around Mt. Hood and return.

I’ve driven my “Circuit du Hood” in everything from a Mehari to a McLaren 720S to a Honda XL250.

In just a few hours, you can experience everything from the four-lane Interstate 84 that goes up the Columbia Gorge past Multnomah Falls to twisting two-lane roads that are best suited to a rally-equipped Mini Cooper that would drift and spray gravel around every turn.

This past weekend I was the passenger in a 2016 Ferrari California T. It’s owned by a friend who lives in the same condo building I do. An enthusiast, he purchased our weapons-grade Defender 90 from me, and also owns a Morgan. His wife drives a Bug Eye. The Ferrari is stunningly attractive in Ahu Dhabi Blue with a quilted crema interior.

One day we happened upon each other in the lobby, and he remarked that he was enjoying the evolution of both my tastes in collecting and the gradual addition to SCM of newer cars.

Who would have thought we would consider something as modern as a 2006 Audi R8 an Affordable Classic? Yet that car is already 15 years old, three-quarters of the way to the 20-year make that we generally use to declare something a classic.

I’ve owned a variety of Ferraris, from the 330 America to a Mondial cabriolet. There is no mistaking their aural impact.

We started our trek at the nearest Starbucks, and I was given dispensation to put my latte in the single cupholder. It was reminiscent of the first Mercedes C-class.

We left the top up for the cruise out Marine Drive along the Columbia River. We wondered what the mighty waterway looked like when it was untamed, before the succession of power-generating dams were erected.

When we entered the town of Troutdale (imagine naming your village after a fish) my friend pushed a button and seconds later we were in an open car.

In many ways, a hardtop convertible is the perfect sports car. As with my SL 55, you have the option of being snug in your coupe, or out in the open air like in a vintage sports car.

We followed the two-lane highway along the Sandy River until we came to Marmot Road.

The Ferrari made everything easy.

We talked about how much harder he would be working if he were driving his wife’s Bug Eye. We came to a favorite hairpin turn marked with a 10-mph sign. I can’t count how many times I have taken that turn in an Alfa, always deciding at the last minute if I was going to select first or second, and always making the wrong decision.

While the piloto of the Ferrari was using the paddle-shifters, if he had left them alone the car would have made the best choice anyway.

The dilemma we face with new cars is that they are all stupendously competent. The California T was able to hit triple-digit speeds on short straights where my Alfa wouldn’t have gotten to redline in third gear.

The challenge of driving modern sports cars on public highways has little to do with skill. In fact, to view a visual display of horsepower-induced idiocy, just pull up some YouTube videos of exotics crashing as they leave Cars and Coffees.

After a lunch in Hood River overlooking the Columbia, and a stop at the local Starbucks, we had a relaxed and uneventful trip back to Portland.

The times have changed and our cars and driving have changed with them. Without question, this California T was a competent GT car capable of devouring any road you could throw at it. At the same time, it was comfortable and quiet, like traveling in a private rail car.

Good roads, a great car and a lively conversation. It’s a perfect combination.



  1. As the owner of a 47 year old Lotus Europa and a brand new Evora, the new car simply outperforms the older by any objective measure, as well it should! However, the Europa is still more fun to drive. It requires my full attention and effort but rewards by a feeling of greater participation and accomplishment. To each his own.

  2. I bought a nice 2300 mile 2016 California T ( California blue ) about a year ago for about 90k less than sticker and love the handling and ease of driving the car which is quite a contrast to the 60 tr3a and 68 Tr 250 I do all the maintenance on.

  3. You’re killing me with those roads. And the mountain.

  4. Reading about driving around my neighborhood is whetting my appetite. Soon we will be back at our summer home in Underwood, WA. and I will get to drive my 1969 365 GT 2+2 on those same Gorge roads! But, predictably, if we want to go on a road trip, it will be in my wife’s 2004 C32AMG.

  5. Anthony Rainone

    Thanks for sharing! Spring is Just around the next bend.

  6. Cool story Keith should i sell the Daytona and buy a California T ? No better yet Keep the Daytona and buy a California T

  7. I sure love my California, I passively searched a couple of years for the right deal. Great article Keith, spot on experience, but for me after having others in fly yellow and TDF Blue, it just needed to be red. Rossi Corsa w/ dark tan diamond stitched and plenty of carbon fiber inside. It feels like a proper Ferrari experience.

    • Rosso . Apple butchered the spelling. I guess the Cali lefties don’t understand

      • You’d think they would love red since it’s the color of the flag they represent with those gold colored stars.

  8. Timely. I’m looking to sell my 2004 360 Spyder and considering the California 2013 – 2014 not a “T” however, or an F430. Both in the same price range. Thoughts anyone? I have had it with the 360 maintenance.