It may have looked similar to the 308 GTB, but underneath it was much closer to a Group B race car than its more common sibling.
Powered by a small 2.8-litre, V8, which sat longitudinally rather than transversely, two Japanese IHI turbochargers with intercoolers more than made up for any perceived lack of cubic capacity.
Try 298kw at 7000 rpm and a 0-100km/h-sprint time of just 4.8 seconds. Couple that with a top speed of 288km/h and remember this was 1984.
Other race car features included an oil cooler, dry-sump lubrication with a Weber-Marelli fuel injection system based on Ferrari’s Formula One set up.
The 288 GTO was a Pininfarina design by Leonardo Fioravanti using the 308 GTB as a staring point. The design then took styling cues from the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO such as the rear-guard vents and rear spoiler, which set the car off superbly.
The “O” in GTO stood for Omologazione or Homologation in English and was exclusively built to compete in the Group B Race series where the rules stated that no less 200 cars were required for homologation.
The problem was that only Porsche, with their 959 and Ferrari with the 288 GTO entered, so the series was quickly abandoned.
But this disaster only served to increase the popularity of such a rare and instantly collectible machine, so Ferrari built another 72 cars and even then, prospective buyers could only hope to join the growing queue.
Former F1 world champion Phil Hill drove the car during a Road & Track test and was mighty impressed. Hill described the Ferrari 288 GTO’s handling as “phenomenal, noticeably increasing with speed”
What gave the 288 GTO this cornering prowess was its innovative construction. It was the first time a Ferrari road car had used composite materials in the chassis and body, which increased structural rigidity while reducing the weight to a super light 1157 kilograms, or a full 318 kilograms lighter than the 308 GTB car.
If you happen to own one of these gems, then by all means get over to the US for the first ever reunion of the 288 GTO at Monterey, California, during August 2009 and please, no fakes.