If there was a golden age of rallying, the 1980’s would certainly be a contender for that honour. It was in the early 1980s the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) introduced a new class of racing, the no-holds barred B Group for supercars. The B Group was, in essence, the natural evolution of the famous Group 3 Grand Touring Class, a class in which Ferrari were often the undisputed kings.
Not shy about their ambitions to add a new trophy to their overflowing cabinet, the designers at Ferrari set to work. After their legendary success of Ferrari 250 GTO in the Group 3 Class of the 1960s, Ferrari set their sights high indeed. However, this time the FIA had wised-up to the curious counting Ferrari had used in the 60s, producing only 39 of the specified 100 cars required to compete in the class. This time the requirements were for a minimum of 200 street legal rallying supercars, and this time, the FIA meant it!
Enter the Ferrari 288 GTO!
By late 1984 the 288 GTO was born. Based on the Pininfarina design for the 308 GTB, the 288 GTO magically combined the most sublime beauty with a very raw performance and power and an engine note which would set pulses racing. Developed alongside the breathtakingly beautiful Testarossa, the GTO was destined to be a record-breaker of note. With a 2.8 litre twin turbocharged V8 with a power output of 400bhp (140bhp / litre) she could reach 60mph with ease in under 5s. She became the first street legal car to break the 300km/h (186 mph) record. In the right hands, her top speed was a conservatively rated 189mph.
Yet the stunning 288 was doomed never to race. During the 85/86 season, after a number of severe crashes and the death of Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto, the FIA disestablished the no-holds barred Group B supercar series. So despite the fact Ferrari built 272 of the 288 GTOs, the demise of Group meant that almost all became road cars. With their blend of serene control and dynamic drive they have been called the most exciting automobiles ever created.
The H.R. Owen Team are privileged indeed, as we have a perfect Ferrari 288 GTO in our London showrooms. This stunning 288 GTO may have been unlucky to miss the chance to prove just how competitively this pony could prance, but the Italian beauty is as perfect an example of a 288 GTO as you could ever wish to see, anywhere in the world. When we refer to cars as in “as new condition” this vision of Ferrari engineering at its best takes the trophy on that score, as she only has 888 miles on the clock. Bought and sold as a collector’s piece it is our extreme honour to admire and care for this car, albeit only for a short while, as we know that someone will find her simply irresistible all too soon.