I drove it for the first time in Milan, in 2010. And then I've driven it again, near Florence, a couple of years later. It was my first ever Ferrari so, yes, it also changed MY game.
The Ferrari California completely CHANGED the GAME for Ferrari when it came out. It was the first ever front-engined Ferrari with a V8, first 7-speed dual clutch gearbox, first metal folding roof, first direct injection. You know all this, of course. What you may not know, is that it is fantastic to drive and, according to the authoritative opinion of... myself, pretty good-looking too.
Some "experts" unceremoniously and snobbishly dubbed it "the cheapest Ferrari". Yes, in the same way that "AA GILL Sap Rising" is probably "AA Gill's least readable book." So what? It's still top class. Still better than most of its rivals. Let me put it to you this way. AA Gill is one of the best writers in the world, his prose is just out of this world. So whatever he puts out, is always very good. Same with Ferrari. Oh, and by the way, the California is a best-seller. At a very convenient starting price of $200,000 for the "T" version.