Rare Vettes



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272 Made


  • Sold/number built : 1984-’86/272
  • Construction: tubular steel chassis, with glassfibre, aluminium and Kevlar body
  • Engine : all-alloy, dohc-per-bank, 32-valve 2855cc V8, with twin IHI turbochargers, intercoolers and Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection
  • Max power : 400bhp @ 7000rpm
  • Max torque : 366lb ft @ 3800rpm
  • Transmission : five-speed manual transaxle, driving rear wheels
  • Suspension : independent, by double wishbones, coil springs, co-axial dampers and anti-roll bar
  • Weight : 2557lb (1160kg)
  • 0-60mph: 4.9 secs
  • Top speed: 189mph
  • Price new: £72,999 ($117,000 U.S.)

Throughout the history of the automobile there have been cars that mark watershed moments. The Ferrari F40 isn’t one of them, but the 288 GTO is. Why, you may ask – protest, even – when the F40 is generally acknowledged to be the most exciting supercar of all? Well, because it’s not unfair to suggest that without the 288 there would be no F40 – and arguably no F1, no Veyron. You’re looking at the original hypercar – and yes, there is a distinction. When the 288 took a bow at the Geneva Salon in March 1984 – incidentally, that was after Porsche’s Gruppe B concept, but two years before the 959 road car it spawned – about the fastest and most outrageous car around was the Lamborghini Countach, perhaps the very definition of a supercar. Yet the 288 blew that car – not to mention Ferrari’s own Testarossa, launched the same year – into the weeds.


So it was a pioneer, but, just as importantly, has there ever been a better-looking high-performance mid-engined sports car? Prettier ones, perhaps – the Miura springs to mind here – but never one so perfectly proportioned, so perfectly melding pure aggression with beauty, so... ‘right’. Taking the lead from its own 1977 308 GTB Speciale, Pininfarina created a car that, from some angles, retains an air of 308, but only in so far as you can see remnants of Bruce Banner’s trousers around the Incredible Hulk’s waist. Squat and foursquare on the road, the 288 pulses with muscular purpose. Perhaps you could question those mirrors – do they need to be so big? – but they suit the overall sense of form following function.


The series in which it was designed to race was Group B, the circuit-based arm of rallying’s most outrageous formula. This demanded 200 production cars – though just over 270 would be built, all sold long before launch to selected ‘special’ customers – featuring the bulk of the racers’ technology. More affordable than a pure prototype, it tempted Enzo to re-enter the sports-racing fray with a works effort for the first time in over a decade. The fact that the world was in the midst of the ’80s supercar boom, so the road-going examples would likely be snapped up, made it a win-win for Maranello.

Sadly, however, Group B was far slower to take off on track than on the stages. Before Ferrari got ready to go head-to-head with the 959, Henri Toivonen was dead and Group B was shelved for being too fast; too dangerous.

We should all be grateful that its star burned so brightly – however briefly – because without it Ferrari would never have taken the mild-mannered 308 and from it created a monster.


Not that there’s a lot of 308 left in there. Yes, their alloy engine blocks are related, but the 288’s V8 motor owes more to Lancia’s sports-racing program than it does to its junior supercar cousin. With a 1 mm shorter stroke reducing capacity from 2967 to 2855 cc, the engine allowed for the FIA’s 1.4 equivalency formula for turbocharging and still snuck in beneath the 4000cc class limit. Moreover, in a 288 it isn’t even transversely mounted, but turned through 90º to lie longitudinally, with a transaxle gearbox and integral locking differential where the 308’s boot would be, flanked by a pair of intercooled IHI turbochargers. Chuck in twin overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, a dry sump and Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection and you have a pretty exotic cocktail, one potent enough to yield a whopping 140 hp per liter – not to mention neatly lowering the center of gravity and ensuring perfect 50:50 weight distribution.


A crash diet to stay beneath the 1100 kg weight limit for Group B – a fully trimmed road car is a little over – led to the use of Kevlar for the panels and in the composite bulkheads. And yet, for all of that, there’s something delightfully traditional about the GTO: it still uses a tubular-steel chassis and the doors are a product of good old aluminum and hand-craftsmanship

Despite the 110 mm-longer wheelbase, that new engine layout pushes the cabin forward, something you notice after pulling the delicate door latch and tumbling gracelessly in, almost braining yourself on the steeply raked A-pillar.

Once inside, you feel as if you are virtually sitting over the front wheels. Before shutting the door, DK’s Jeremy Cottingham has a final word of caution: this car has caught out more than one motoring hack. “It’s far trickier than an F40,” says Cottingham. “It’s very important to have good tires on these or they drive like dogs.”

Read more: http://www.roadandtrack.com/features/web-originals/features-web-originals-the-ferrari-288-gto#ixzz2tzNAJqQj



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