The regulations for the FIA’s Group B rally series that began in the early 1980s spawned cars that were thrilling and scary for their drivers as well as for the throngs of spectators that lined the courses to see these fire-breathing turbocharged rally monsters. The FIA ultimately cancelled the series after several high profile accidents, but not before Porsche and Ferrari had designed homologation specials in order to compete in it. The car developed by Ferrari was the 288 GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato), so named in a nod to the 250 GTO of two decades prior.
The 288 GTO was loosely based on the 308 road car and not only had more aggressive, more slotted and wider bodywork, but had a four inch stretch (to 96 inches total) in wheelbase to accommodate a longitudinal engine installation. This change from the 308’s transverse layout was borne out of the need to accommodate two IHI turbochargers and their intercoolers enabling the 2.8-liter V-8 to produce 400 hp. Performance was spectacular with a 4.5 second 0-60 sprint and a top speed of 189 mph, which briefly made the GTO the fastest street car existent. Suspension and brakes were equally fortified to allow handling that was more enlivening than an epinephrine shot given its power and impressive light weight of under 2,600 pounds.
A full leather interior came standard on the road cars, and an optional package included air conditioning, a stereo, and power windows. These steps did little to disguise the GTO’s race-oriented design, though. Ultimately, the 288 GTO didn’t race in anger, but lessons learned from its design would make their way to the F40, and the 272 GTOs built in 1984 and 1985 are now top tier collectibles.