I’ll be the first to admit I’m more of a Lamborghini guy than a Ferrari guy. Still, there are a few exceptions to this, one being the 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO, for Gran Turismo Omologata, this very impressive car was only in production for three years, between 1984 and 1988. Only 272 units were built in Maranello, making this a relatively rare car today, and while at first glance it might look like the more subtle 308 GTB which was built between 1975 and 1983, this 288 GTO is a different beast altogether.
Powered by a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine the 288 GTO came with 395 bhp and 366 lb-ft of torque to deliver a top speed of no less than 288 km/h (179 mph), acceleration from 0 to 60 mph took just 5 seconds, but get this, the Ferrari 288 GTO was not ‘federalized’ for sale in the United States, the ones that did get imported into the USA were all grey import vehicles, which made this Prancing Horse even more exclusive in the Eigthies, and another major difference between the 308 GTB and the 288 GTO, despite both having a V8 is the fact the latter had the engine mounted longitudinally, just like in the competition from Sant’Agata, the Lamborghini Countach LP500 S.
As you might expect, most of the Ferrari 288 GTO left the factory doors in Maranello finished in the classic Rosso shade, but there are a few others out there, and while this new era GTO might look like a 308 or 328 GTB to the untrained eye, there are quite a few major differences noticeable, like the deeper front bumper with four massive integrated lights below the turn signals, make no mistake, there are still two pop-up headlights too. Another difference are the much wider wheel arches both front and rear, covering massive Speedline rims, while the exterior rearview mirrors are another trademark for the 288 GTO.
Let’s not forget the styling queues that have been taken from the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO from the Sixties, the three ‘slats’ behind the front wheel of that classic race car, on the 288 were cut into the rear panel behind the rear wheels, but they are still there, as is the ‘ducktail’ at the rear for aerodynamic reasons, and while not noticeable on sight, the 288 GTO weighed just 1,159 kg (2,555 lb) compared to the heavier 308 GTB at 1,399 kg (3,085 lb) thanks to using steel only for the doors, the rest of the bodypanels on the GTO were made from lightweight Kevlar and carbon fiber, something that would make a return on what many would consider the successor to the 288 GTO, the Ferrari F40.
But what is it like to take this now classic Ferrari 288 GTO for a drive? Let’s take a look at what Harry from Harry’s Garage on Youtube has to say about this Ferrari icon after a 1,000 km drive, and why he actually bought a Zonda back in 2005 instead of this masterpiece from Maranello: