The Ferrari 288 GTO – Complete Guide
In 1984, Ferrari built a street-legal automobile that strangely and miraculously united the highest possible degree of aesthetic perfection with a very unrefined level of performance.
Alongside the development of the Testarossa, another model of Ferrari automobile was given the designation “GTO,” which stood for “Gran Turismo Omologata.” The Ferrari 288 GTO from 1962–1964 is one of the rarest models and is often considered to be the most desirable of all Ferraris.
In the golden age of GT sports car racing, this racing vehicle had notable success and was homologated for that category. The power output of the 2.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 in the 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO was 400 horsepower, which is equivalent to 140 horsepower per liter.
This was sufficient for the car to reach 60 miles per hour in five seconds or less and had a peak speed that was conservatively assessed at 189 miles per hour.
As was the case with its progenitor, the Ferrari 288 GTO was intended to compete on public roads that had been recognized as FISA Group B racing courses. In order to participate in this series, it was required to homologate a total of 200 customer vehicles.
In point of fact, Ferrari produced 272 contemporary Ferrari 288 GTOs, and practically all of them were converted into road vehicles as a result of the cancellation of the no-holds-barred Group B supercar championship. It has been said that these vehicles are the most fascinating ones that have ever been made because of the way they combine calm control with dynamic aggression.
It is important to note that Ferrari did not import any Ferrari 288 GTO models into the North American market. As a result, anybody interested in purchasing a Ferrari should do so via a Ferrari dealership authorized to sell the brand in order to guarantee that the vehicle has been properly federalized.
At first look, the style of the Ferrari 288 GTO seems to be a development of the two mid-engined masterworks created by Pininfarina in the 1970s: the Berlinetta Boxer and the 308.
It was in point of fact a quite distinct automobile, not even sharing the corresponding proportions of these pure street motors with the other vehicles.
The most notable characteristics of a racing automobile were shown by this vehicle, including a shorter overall length, a larger wheelbase, and a much wider track. While the 308 and the Ferrari 288 GTO have a similar appearance, the Ferrari 288 GTO has a styling that is both marginally cleaner and noticeably more aggressive.
As a result of the bodywork’s efforts to cover the chassis and interior with as little bother as possible, it has a more refined appearance, and its lines are tauter and more muscular.
In a nod to the Ferrari 250 GTO, the 288 had sectionally semicircular nacelles that fed air into the engine compartment. Additionally, the Ferrari 288 GTO featured angled fender gill slits and hood louvers that exhausted the air from the engine room.
On the other hand, the Ferrari 288 GTO had a tiny V8 engine that was positioned longitudinally behind the cabin, and the transaxle was plainly visible to people who were standing behind the vehicle.
High-mounted side mirrors give the driver a clear view over and around the large wheel blisters, an extremely aggressive Kamm tail that was suggestive of stability at extremely high speeds, and an extremely deep front air dam that was situated beneath massive auxiliary lights that were suitable for illuminating a dusty, rainy, or dark race course were some of the most noticeable styling details of this vehicle’s design.
All of these visual signals were accurate representations of the car’s function and potential. The nearly total absence of brightwork was another remarkable feature; even the Cavallino that normally separates the tail lights was completely dark.
The Ferrari 288 GTO did not need much additional to be recognized, although it did carry the Scuderia Ferrari enamel badges on its sides as all racing Ferraris do; visual subtlety was a characteristic of the automobile.
The aerodynamics of the Ferrari 288 GTO were developed to comply with the homologation standards so that the car could be driven legally on the street. As such, it is a vehicle that has been constructed for stability up to its terminal velocity, despite the fact that it lacks the sophisticated undertray design and aerodynamic refinement of subsequent Ferraris.
The majority of the bodywork that was found on the Ferrari 288 GTO was unique to the vehicle and was considered innovative for its time due to the fact that it was mostly made of fiberglass and composites.
The current racing design aimed for lightweight while yet maintaining the strength coming from the chassis and the subframes. The floor pan and the majority of the body panels were both constructed out of compressed fiberglass. Aluminum was used in many locations, such as the engine cover, so that other materials may be strengthened.
Due to the unique qualities of each material, Kevlar and Nomex were used in certain applications. An aluminum honeycomb with a Kevlar skin and a mix of Kevlar and Nomex served as the primary enclosing material for the engine compartment.
These materials were heat resistant, fire retardant, robust, and lightweight. A high-tensile tubular steel space frame served as the foundation of the building.
The tubular chassis of the Ferrari 288 GTO was made of steel with a big oval section that was welded to tubes with square and rectangular sections, depending on the need.
The chassis consisted of a number of separate subframes, each of which was shaped specifically for its function and linked to the primary body surrounding the cabin.
Another feature that was designed specifically for the competition was the ability to remove the vehicle’s whole rear subframe, which was home to the vehicle’s powertrain as well as the rear suspension.
A complete roll hoop that was concealed under the roof and B pillars provided additional special protection for the building’s occupants. The Ferrari 288 GTO’s chassis was the ideal base for both the road and the racetrack because of its rigidity, strength, and low weight. It was also capable of deftly managing the massive amounts of torque and power that the stock or racing motor would throw through it.
It is possible to view the silver-painted Behr intercoolers through the slats in the engine cover, and if you open the cover, you will be able to see how far forward the V8 is positioned, with most of it being located behind the rear screen.
This explains the large, carpeted bulge that can be seen between the seats, and there is also evidence of the tubular space frame: a nicely trimmed diagonal bracing at the back of the door opening that ties to a thick roll hoop.
The Ferrari 288 GTO was propelled by a 2,855cc 90° V8 Twin Turbocharged all alloy engine. This engine was positioned longitudinally behind the passenger compartment and was a unit with a rear transaxle.
Dual overhead camshafts, each of which was powered by a toothed belt, were responsible for actuating the engine’s four valves per cylinder. In addition to the fuel injection system, each bank of cylinders had its own ignition system, which was controlled by a pair of Weber-Marelli units.
A bank of cylinders was supplied with gasoline from connected aluminum fuel tanks that had a combined capacity of 31.7 gallons. The flat-topped pistons were driven by a forged steel crankshaft that was made from a single billet, and the whole assembly was cooled and lubricated by a specialized oil injection system.
The fundamental compression ratio of the engine was 7.6:1, and it was fully used by alloy con rods. A dry sump with dual circuits and an oil radiator located in the engine compartment were used to provide lubrication for the vehicle. A radiator mounted in the front provided cooling, and two fans controlled by thermostats worked in conjunction with it.
Each bank of cylinders had its own giant IHI turbocharger and enormous Behr intercooler, which were responsible for delivering air to that cylinders. The exhaust fumes that were expelled from the engine passed via enormous tubular manifolds on their way to a single muffler, where they finally exited the system. The exhaust gasses powered the turbochargers.
The turbo latency was reduced thanks to a wastegate. This powertrain, which benefited from Ferrari’s previous expertise with turbocharging for Formula One, generated 400 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 366 pound-feet of torque at 3800 rpm.
The sole available gearbox for the Ferrari 288 GTO was a completely synchronized 5-speed manual with a single-plate clutch that was activated hydraulically. Cases made of magnesium and aluminum alloy were employed to enclose both the gearbox and the differential. The gearbox was placed behind the differential for the purpose of achieving good weight distribution.
The drive went through an angle of 180 degrees from the crankshaft to the end of the driveshaft. The selection of gears was controlled by robust rods and forks to guarantee a successful engagement under any and all circumstances.
The Ferrari 288 GTO was manufactured with a completely independent suspension system that consisted of unequal-length wishbones with coil springs mounted above manually adjustable Koni shock absorbers. The wishbones were made of high-tensile tubular steel, and the strut assemblies were positioned in a manner that was distinct between the front and the back of the vehicle.
The great cornering stability of the automobile was helped by the presence of front and rear anti-roll bars.
The front brakes on the Ferrari 288 GTO were vented discs with a diameter of 12.05 inches, while the rear brakes had a diameter of 12.2 inches. A servo-assisted dual-channel hydraulic system was responsible for actuating the twin-piston calipers, and the front and rear brakes were automatically adjusted.
Rack and pinion steering without power assistance was used on the Ferrari 288 GTO. The vehicle was outfitted with 225/50-16 front tires and 255/50-16 rear tires that were mounted on specialized two-piece Speedline aluminum wheels. In the style of a race automobile, each of the 16-inch wheels was fastened to its hub by a single nut.
The cabin of the Ferrari 288 GTO was not too stripped down despite the fact that it was first built for racing. Even if all of the luxuries beyond the most fundamental ones had been removed, the passengers were nevertheless able to find comfort in the functional and spacious cabin.
Even though there were two different interior color schemes available, practically every Ferrari 288 GTO had black leather seats encased in Kevlar. These seats were incredibly supportive. In the alternative, the leather was accented with inserts of a bright orange color.
The non-reflective material that was used to cover the dashboard in order to maintain a clear vision at all times was the feature that stood out the most, in addition to the overall functioning of the cockpit.
The driver was confronted with a Ferrari standard three-spoke wheel with a leather-rimmed center and highly visible orange-on-black gauges, the most essential of which were located in the binnacle while the auxiliary was slanted in from the center of the dashboard.
Underneath these central gauges was the temperature control system, as well as an opening for a sound system that the customer could install themselves. The classic steel shift lever in its polished gate took up most of the space on the center console, which was physically isolated from the dashboard.
The rest of the console was taken up by the auxiliary control panels. The Ferrari 288 GTO did not have any storage space or room for baggage, and the compact positioning of the longitudinal engine required an access panel to be placed right behind the seats. The Ferrari 288 GTO was not very practical. In every meaning of the phrase, the Pontiac GTO was a high-performance sports vehicle.
Influencing First Impression
When you slide into the driver’s seat with the “Daytona” trim, it gives the impression that you are riding high, as if you were in a 308. In point of fact, the whole cabin has a very 308-like vibe to it. The cabin is not as bare as one would find in, say, a Ferrari F40 since it has been tastefully decorated.
A radio, speakers, electric windows, and air conditioning are just some of the luxuries that can be found in this comfortable environment, which also has carpeting and upholstered door casings.
The difference between this instrument pack and the one that comes standard on the 308 is that there is a small boost gauge that takes center stage, and there are three more dials that hang off the bottom edge of the dashboard.
The editors and contributors of Enzo magazine got behind the wheel of a 288 GTO, and this is what they had to say about the experience:
“Turn the key counterclockwise, then press the button made of black rubber with your thumb to start the 288 GTO. The start of the engine is not a strong, confident whoop; rather, it is more like a soft coax, with the engine catching slowly and rising to its idle speed rather than taking a great breath, gulping down a large amount of gasoline, and growling into life.
It unmistakably has that flat-plane crank sound to it while it’s idling, which alerts you to the fact that it’s a sophisticated piece of equipment with a variety of other noises that are mechanical in nature.
The amazing non-assisted steering is virtually the first thing that comes to mind when you get behind the wheel, which is almost a throwback in comparison to the modern electronic systems that need a pinky to operate. The trade-off for the hefty steering at parking speeds is a tolerable amount of effort, and the sensation and input it provides are wonderful.
The ride quality is the aspect that has surprised me the most. When you first hear the car’s wheels turn, you can’t help but crack a smile since you know that this is the kind of vehicle that is going to erase the majority of the blemishes that are seen on surfaces. The more distance you cover and the quicker you go, the more you realize that the trade-off between control and comfort is brilliantly struck.
The shifting is going to be the obstacle. Heel-and-toe downshifts, matching the rpm, are required, and even then the shift loads are fairly high, so you have to palm the lever firmly through the open gate to ensure that there is a metal-on-metal clack! at the end of the throw.
Heel-and-toe downshifts are a requirement. You are free to drive the 288 GTO with a light touch everywhere you go, taking your time to perfect the shift until it clicks into place with a sigh of contentment, taking pleasure in the feedback, and being amazed by the ride’s capacity to smooth over a variety of rough patches. However, it is impossible to ignore the whispers coming from behind, the sound of boost building up as the engine gets closer and closer to 3000 revolutions per minute.
When pushed to its limits, the GTO is still impressively quick, which is to be expected given that it has close to 400 horsepower and weighs just 1160 kg. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that there is a discernible and exhilarating ramp-up to full boost when full throttle is applied, the power band is incredibly wide, and the engine is still powerful at the redline of 7000 rpm.
If the front end starts to push wide as you squeeze on the throttle, giving it everything you’ve got will cause the rear end to push wide as well. This occurs because the GTO tracks flat and poised through corners, and the steering provides plenty of warning when you’re approaching the limit of grip.
The GTO’s boost comes on suddenly and in a way that is highly addictive. When shifting through the lower gears, the increasing torque gives the impression of an early Porsche 911 Turbo preparing for takeoff. It is difficult to modulate the throttle, but you can hear the boost coming up, and with enough skill, you can balance your right foot to the point where you can have a road vehicle that is amazingly tactile, transparent, and exploitable, and that engages and rewards the driver.
Because the Group B races were canceled, the 288 GTO was never able to compete in any of them. We covered this topic previously in the essay.
The Porsche 959 was the only competitor that emerged for the Group B 4000 cc class. In addition to being fully developed as a road car, the 959 also competed in motorsport.
In the meantime, Ferrari went on to develop the GTO Evoluzione, a development car that embraced aerodynamics and allowed the engineers to explore the potential of the engine by turning the boost up to produce 650 bhp before winding it back to 470 bhp and dropping it into the back of an outrageous road car called the Ferrari F40. Porsche took the information it gained from this car and used it to compete in rallying.