When the FIA launched Group B in 1982 this spectacular new category quickly caught the public’s imagination. Manufacturers like Audi, Lancia, Ford and Peugeot created the fastest and most outrageous rally cars ever seen, and Ferrari joined others in developing cars for what was to be a Group B series for circuit racing. The 288 GTO was the car they produced, a homologation special with the GTO moniker (standing for Grand Tourismo Omologato), which had previously been used just once by Ferrari, for the fabled 250 GTO in the early 1960s.
Designed by Pininfarina’s Leornardo Fioravanti, the 288 GTO featured a tubular-steel chassis clothed in a beautiful lightweight body, reminiscent of the baby in Ferrari’s stable, the 308 GTB. But the similarities were no more than skin deep, for the 288 GTO featured not only a quite different chassis, which was made up of a series of subframes giving it the required structural rigidity, it was driven by a longitudinal, mid-mounted 2.85 litre twin-turbo V8 all-alloy engine producing a mighty 400 bhp. The gearbox and differential were housed in a lightweight magnesium casing mounted at the rear of the engine to enhance weight distribution. The result was a masterpiece, not only one of the most beautiful Ferraris ever built, but also a car fast enough to compete against the likes of Porsche, who had created the ground-breaking 959 for the same series.
But by the time the 288 GTO was ready the FIA had cancelled Group B and the racing project was shelved. However, such was the enthusiasm from owners and collectors for Ferrari’s latest creation, to satisfy demand they went on to build a total of 272 examples, 72 more than were originally planned to comply with homologation. The 288 has since become one of Ferrari’s most highly-prized classics, with its winning combination of looks, performance and rarity.