Launched more than 20 years after the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO, the first Ferrari to bear the Omologato name, the 288 GTO had big shoes to fill. Naturally, Maranello’s engineers were not about to let down those most illustrious three letters with mere adequacy. Instead, they created a fantastic tribe to the 250 GTO: a tremendously powerful sports car for the road. Pininfarina’s Leonardo Fioravanti, already well respected in Ferrari enthusiast circles for his radical yet immensely desirable 365 GTB/4 Daytona, was tapped to pen the 288 GTO. Using one of his recent designs, the sleek 308 GTB, as a base, Fioravanti and Ferrari’s aerodynamics engineers treated the car to a high-performance makeover that brought in a few cues from the 250 GTO. A built in rear spoiler and three rear fender slats served as aerodynamic and performance advancements that also helped link the 288 GTO to its predecessor. Otherwise, the new car was entirely forward-looking.
Despite its tremendous performance, the 288 GTO did make a few luxury concessions on the interior. Ferrari’s traditional exquisitely upholstered leather seats were standard and air conditioning, a radio and power windows showed up on the options list. With zero to 60 times clocked at less than five seconds by contemporary press, the 288 GTO was immediately lauded as a true supercar.
Unfortunately, the 288 GTOs never had the chance to perform on track. The FIA cancelled its controversial high-performance Group B series due to track safety issues. Still, the 288 GTO’s popularity with the public was unquestioned. Though homologation standards required only 200 vehicles to be produced beyond track going examples, demand was so strong for the 288 GTO that Ferrari agreed to produce an additional 72 vehicles totalling in all 272 cars in all.