Geneva may be known for many things but in addition to being home to 200,000, it’s also the home of the Geneva International Motor Show, (a.k.a. GIMS). Since the exhibition first launched in 1905, brands use the event to unveil some of their most iconic cars and in 1984 Ferrari did so by introducing the 288 GTO to the world.
Why is the 288 GTO so important in Ferrari’s history? Because it paved the way for some of the most legendary Ferraris ever made like the F40, F50 and the Enzo. It will always be the first of Ferrari’s supercar series. The F40, the F50, the Enzo, the LaFerrari and whatever comes next - the 288 GTO will always be the one that started it all. When it was presented at the GIMS in 1984, the 288 GTO was the most powerful and fastest road car Ferrari had ever built.
As most of you know, GTO is an acronym for the Italian term ‘Gran Turismo Omologato’. Ferrari built the supercar in quantities just sufficient enough to homologate it for the FIA’s now-legendary Group B racing which required a minimum production run of 200 cars. Initially, the Italians intended to rebuild the 308 GTB but the FIA regulations didn’t allow this, so Ferrari immediately built a completely new car. This is the reason why the visual similarities with the 308 GTB are not coincidental.
The numerical part of its name, 288, was derived from the 2.8-liter V8 engine. The GTO was originally developed to enable Ferrari to make a comeback in rallying in the then Group B but after the death of Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto at the Tour de Corse, FIA suspended the Group B.
Initially Ferrari built only 272 road GTOs and an additional 5 GTO Evoluzione for pure racing use, of which only 3 are still exist. The last 288 GTO was built for ex-Formula 1 World Champion Niki Lauda in 1986 and was given to him as a gift, making it the Holy Grail of all the 288 GTOs built.
Compared to the F40, the 288 GTO interior is “deluxe”. The leather bucket seats are standard and let the passengers enjoy the ride in comfort. Carpeting was standard as well and options included electronic windows, air-condition and an AM/FM cassette stereo. In the pictures below, you can see how the headlamps in the fenders can flip up. So old school, yet so nice. Do you feel the 80’s groove?!
The cars were originally sold for around USD 85,000 (or 265,000 German Deutsche Marks), whereas the current market price is around USD 2.2-3.2 million. That’s an increase of more than 3000% in 35 years - an increase that most companies can only dream of in the stock market. This makes me raise the question once again, whether cars can be seen a serious alternative investment? Yes, of course they can and they should be!
When talking about the 288 GTO’s construction, that's when you realize that Pininfarina had a hand in this. The supercar is based on a steel tube chassis. The doors are aluminum. The roof, lower front spoiler and rear valance are made of Kevlar while the fenders and quarters are made of a lightweight fiberglass composite. The 288 had the F1 team’s iconic fingerprints all over it combined with the ingenuity of Pininfarina. The wider fenders became necessary with the broader tires, giving the 288 GTO the masculine look that everybody loves.
In addition to the optical and aerodynamic changes, a completely different engine was used to the 308. As already mentioned, Ferrari opted for a 2.8-liter V8 engine with twin IHI turbochargers which, unlike in the 308 series, was installed longitudinally in front of the rear axle. The monstrous power output of 400 PS is good for an acceleration of 4.9 seconds from 0-100 km/h and Vmax of 305 km/h.
As you can see, the Ferrari 288 GTO is a must-have for any serious Ferrari collector. The car is the epitome of the 80’s and its design is still one of the most impressive and masculine that Ferrari has ever introduced. Thanks to Stephan for the pictures; make sure to follow his Instagram: @stephan_bauer
It was priced at USD 85,000 in 1984 when it was first launched. Current market price is approximately USD 2.2 million to 3.2 million depending on the condition and previous ownership of the car.
272 units + 5 Evoluzione
If you’ve ever wanted to feel the 80’s groove with one car, then the 288 GTO is the one for you. Just sitting in the car makes you feel like you’re in an episode of Miami Vice.
The stunning design with its wide fenders is masculine yet classy and although it was never raced, the 288 GTO is a milestone in Ferrari’s history.
Photography: Stephan Bauer IG: @stephan_bauer