While the spiritual successor to the mighty Ferrari 250 GTO was made with the intention annihilating the competition, fate had it that it would never ever turn an angry wheel in any competitive event.
During the 80s, Group B was as important, if not any more than Formula One for manufacturer’s to establish their reputation as a capable competition car maker. Ferrari wanted a piece of the action for themselves too. This was despite the fact that the prancing horse had never competed over rally circuits, but the 288 GTO was being specifically developed to change that very notion (read: Ferrari’s short stint with rally cars).
The Ferrari 288 GTO Coupe thus, was a limited edition 200-example run machine that was created specifically for homologation purposes. It got its styling from Leonardo Fioravanti of Pininfarina, who was also responsible for the design of the iconic Ferrari 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ and also the Ferrari 308 GTB on which the 288 GTO was based. While from the outside, the Ferrari 288 GTO resembled the 308 GTB to striking detail, there was nothing similar under the skin of this homologation special. The V8 engine was mounted longitudinally rather than transverse which increased the wheelbase from 234cm to 245.1cm. This change was made specifically to accommodate the added twin turbochargers and its corresponding plumbing. The frame was made from the latest Formula One technology that consisted of steel tubes, fibre glass, Nomex and Kevlar.
To keep the Ferrari 288 GTO in-line with Group B regulations, the 2,927cc V8 engine was downsized to 2,855cc. With the knowhow Ferrari had recently gained from tuning turbocharged engines on their Formula One cars, they engineers tuned the 288 GTO’s engine to produce a quite-a-handful-back-then 400bhp that would easily give the car a top speed of 184mph (296kmph). The design of the Ferrari 288 GTO Coupe was further distanced from the 308 for maximum aerodynamic efficiency where flared wheel arches, larger front and rear spoilers and taller door mirrors were added after constant wind tunnel testing.
Unfortunately the Ferrari 288 GTO Coupe never saw a single competitive event as Group B was very soon discontinued due to lack of regulations on power outputs that were becoming the cause of several fatal accidents. While this ended Ferrari’s official campaign with with 288 GTO, some 278 road-going examples that were built for homologation still survived as proof of the incredible machine’s capabilities. The machine’s capabilities were such that it quickly became the favourite of Formula One drivers of its time with notable names such as Ferrari’s Michele Alboretto, René Arnoux and Niki Lauda each owned their own. This paricular example of the 278 cars build is one of the 20 cars that were ever imported to the UK and will go on sale at the Bonhams Bond Street Sale.
Photos courtesy Bonhams