A history lesson about the Ferrari 288 GTO at speed

The Ferrari 288 GTO Driven By Alain de Cadenet - Homologation Specials

The GTO that became known as the 288 GTO, due to its 2.8-liter V-8, is a special car even amongst Ferraris. Its functional beauty, perfect stance and Group B attitude puts it above a number of homologation specials in terms of performance and desirability, while its legacy tied to the Ferrari F40, the supercar off your bedroom wall. With all that in mind, I ask the following:

Would you take a 1985 Ferrari 250 GTO for a spin while talking to the cameras on a gloomy, foggy, cold, and damp day high up in the Swiss Alps? I can only take an educated guess, but knowing how Ferrari only built 272 units of these now $2 million cars, it’s likely that many would wait with the GTO for some sunshine to dry up those curves. But not Alain de Cadenet.

As a vintage racing car enthusiast and 11-time Le Mans 24 veteran (who also owns a 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 that I’ve witnessed starting right up), Alain de Cadenet knows all about Italian cars painted Rosso Scuderia. Unsurprisingly, he also likes the 288 GTO, and guides viewers through its history as part of Petrolicious’ new show, Homologation Specials.

Telecrest Ferrari 288 GTO
Ferrari 288 GTO

With just under 400 horsepower from a V-8 mounted longitudinally for transaxle layout, the 288 GTO has a longer wheelbase than the Ferrari 308 QV it was based on. It’s also some 500 pounds lighter than that car, which makes it even more remarkable that its proposed Group B variant, the 288 Evoluzione seen here, is 550 pounds lighter than the 2550-pound GTOs.

Add a very direct steering rack, great visibility and balance, and a furious turbocharged V-8 behind your ears, and the 288 GTO becomes not just a design classic by Pininfarina’s Leonardo Fioravanti, but also a car that really shouldn’t spend any time being neglected in a garage. More sophisticated than the 1987 F40, the GTO remains the benchmark sports car of its era, and one that deserves high revs after being banned from racing in period, despite Ferrari’s best intentions.