1985 Ferrari 288 GTO

Courtesy of Bonhams

The original, immortal Ferrari 250 GTO had been developed for the FIA GT Championship, duly taking the manufacturer’s title for Ferrari in 1962, 1963 and 1964. So, clearly, any revival of the GTO name could only be permitted for a very special car indeed.

Enter the 288 GTO. Like its illustrious forebear, the 288 GTO (the initials stand for Gran Turismo Omologato) was conceived as a limited-edition model, just 200 units being planned to meet the then-existing Group B homologation requirements for international sports car racing.

Styled by Pininfarina’s Leonardo Fioravanti, creator of the awe-inspiring Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, the 288 GTO was based on the 308 GTB (another Fioravanti creation) and made its public debut at the Geneva Salon in February 1984.

Fioravanti later recalled Enzo Ferrari’s original design brief: “There was no specific instruction, just to produce a car based on the 308 GTB that could be used for racing.”

Its three rear-wing cooling slots deliberately recall the earlier GTO, and the 288 body likewise benefited from the adoption of F1 technology, being constructed of glassfibre and a mixture of the lightweight composite materials Kevlar and carbon fiber.

Aerodynamically refined in the wind tunnel, the 288 GTO sported flared wheelarches, larger front and rear spoilers, taller door mirrors and four additional driving lights in the front grille. These subtly altered looks combine elegance with muscularity in equal measure.

Given its race-bred, state-of-the-art technology and drop-dead-gorgeous looks, it is not surprising that the 288 GTO appealed to Formula One drivers of the day, with Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto and René Arnoux, and even McLaren’s Nikki Lauda, numbered among its owners.

In the event, the 288 GTO never contested the races for which it had been conceived, as the FIA axed Group B, citing lack of manufacturer interest as the reason.

The 288 GTO is one of the rarest of modern Ferrari road cars, and examples are only infrequently offered for sale on the open market. Of the 270 or so built, all are highly desirable, but none more so than this unmolested, one-owner, little-used example.

Steve Ahlgrim

Steve Ahlgrim - SCM Contributing Editor - %%page%%

Steve taught high school auto shop before moving to Atlanta, GA, where his love of sports cars led him to FAF Motorcars, the former Ferrari dealer where he served as General Manager and Vice President. He has been a self-proclaimed “one-trick pony,” coveting the Ferrari marque. He has been involved in concours judging for over 25 years and is a member of the IAC/PFA, an international committee overseeing high-level Ferrari concours judging. He is chief judge of the Celebration Exotic Car Show in Celebration, FL.

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