Ferrari’s 365 California was, in so many ways, the culmination of Ferrari’s collaboration between sports car racing and customer road cars. Only 14 examples of the 365 California were built. They are almost invisible among the (relatively) boxcar loads of 275 GTBs and 365 GTB/4 Daytonas that Ferrari, along with Pininfarina and Scaglietti, turned out about the same time.
The 365 California was a hybrid made possible by the extraordinarily flexible combinations of the chassis, engines and drivetrains available at Ferrari. Pininfarina’s design imagination and low-volume coachbuilding skills enabled Ferrari to create niche marvels that sold at breathtaking prices to a small cadre of well-heeled and discriminating clients.
The 365 California established a standard of exclusivity that later Ferraris didn’t even try to meet. It was a low production, futuristically designed and styled visual masterpiece. Ferrari never called it a “Spyder” or a “GT.” It is simply a “365 California”—an elegantly simple name.
Of the 14 365 Californias built, chassis 08347 has the distinction of being the prototype example, the first car built and the one that was displayed on the Pininfarina stand at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show. Chassis 08347 was originally fitted with flat taillights, which were later modified to the standard three round lights, as seen on the other Californias. It also has the ancillary pop-up driving lights next to the standard lights.
Previous owners have enjoyed the car. It has been seen at the Raid Ferrari D’Epoca in Modena, the 1983 Ferrari Days meeting, the 1984 Rallye du Champagne in Reime, the Francorchamps F40 meeting in Brussels, and the Club Ferrari France “Les Cabriolets au Mas du Clos” meeting.
A matching-numbers car with known history from new, it has been Ferrari Certified and is unquestionably one of the finest examples of the few 365 Californias built. Still in pristine condition, this is one of Ferrari’s rarest coachbuilt road cars. It is welcome in all the great Ferrari events around the world and given its rarity and prototype status, is certainly worthy of close consideration.