THE GTO RETURNS
By 1984, the words “Gran Turismo Omologata” carried enormous weight in the Ferrari world. Since 1962, the 250 GTO had been considered the finest sports racer that Ferrari had ever produced. With an astonishing racing record—rivaled only by its sensational driving dynamics—the GTO was cemented into sports car lore as nothing short of a legend. For Ferrari to revive such a legendary moniker, any new GTO would be expected to match or surpass the 250’s incredible record in motorsport.
Seeking to contend in the notorious FIA Group B, Ferrari developed and produced the GTO to homologate the model for competition within that series; this called for a production run of 200 cars. Group B was incredibly popular following its introduction in the 1980s, especially in Europe, and Ferrari was eager to jump into the fray—and Maranello was certain that its car would be unmatched in competition. However, Group B was canceled shortly thereafter, leaving the factory with a fully developed and homologated car but no series in which to compete. It was clear that the public was eager to experience Ferrari’s newest no-compromises supercar, and the GTO was certainly not going to disappoint the brand’s fans or customers—even without a spot on the grid.
While it shared visual cues with the 308 and 328, there was no denying that the 288 GTO (as it was later dubbed) was more special than its siblings. Visually it held a more aggressive stance, with composite and Kevlar forming the majority of the bodywork. The doors and deck lid were formed from lightweight aluminum, with an imposing shape that hinted at its prodigious performance. The race-bred 2.8-liter V-8 engine with its twin IHI turbochargers pumped out a monstrous 400 horsepower and 366 pound-feet of torque. The 288 GTO could rocket to a top speed of 189 mph, making it the fastest road car ever produced at the time of its unveiling. Its acceleration was equally impressive, and the car could reach 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.8 seconds and 100 mph in 10.2—fast enough to keep everything short of a fighter jet in its rearview mirror.
Performance aside, the GTO’s interior was graced with a host of modern amenities. The Kevlar-framed bucket seats were lined in leather, and buyers could request air conditioning, electric windows, and an AM/FM radio/cassette stereo as optional extras. Other than those few comforts, the GTO offered nothing to distract the driver from the task at hand. The new GTO clearly resonated with Ferrari’s clientele, as 272 examples were built by the time production ceased (which was over 25 per cent more than the amount required for FIA Group B homologation).
The GTO was the first in the lineage of modern Ferrari supercars, and it remains incredibly rare, seldom seen on the road and even less frequently offered for public sale.
CHASSIS NUMBER 56773
The example on offer, chassis 56773, is one of the 272 Ferrari 288 GTOs built from 1984 to 1985. It left the factory on 3 May 1985, finished in Rosso Corsa, with the cabin upholstered in black leather; its “Daytona”-style seats featured optional red cloth inserts. Destined for the United States, chassis 56773 was equipped with air-conditioning and power windows but without a radio, a nod to the racing DNA of the model.
Following the federalization process carried out by the North American Ferrari agent, the car successfully arrived in Illinois at the supplying dealer, Lake Forest Sportscars. There, this 288 GTO was sold new to its first owner, Donald Schaff, who resided in Florida. Per the accompanying Ferrari Warranty Card, Mr. Schaff took delivery of his new car on 10 June 1985. Chassis 56773 led a quiet early life and by August 1991 was offered for sale by Walnut Creek Ferrari in California, where the odometer reading was noted as 3,388 km.
By 1993 chassis 56773 had changed hands and is mentioned by the Ferrari expert Marcel Massini in his report as being sold in April to Cavallino Imports of Dixie Hills, New York. This 288 GTO then entered the possession of the third owner, Mr. Dennis Farrey of Dani Investments in San Carlos, California sometime in 1996. Farrey retained chassis 56773 for four years, before offering the car for sale in the Ferrari Market Letter on 8 April 2000, stating the odometer reading was 4,517 km. The car was subsequently sold to the fourth owner in 2001.
Under this ownership the car experienced regular service attention with corresponding mileage documentation. Detailed invoices are available on file, with a major service completed on 31 July 2020. More than $18,000 was spent at Continental Auto Sports in Hinsdale, Illinois as all the fluids were drained and replaced, while at the same time, a cambelt service was carried out, and a new water pump and spark plugs installed. The final task completed was having a set of four new Pirelli P Zero tires mounted to the wheels, with the invoice noting that chassis 56773 had covered 7,815 km at the point of service.
Chassis 56773’s most recent service took place at Continental Auto Sports on 31 January 2022, comprising an oil and brake fluid change and replacement of the oil pressure gauge sensor. Importantly, at this time 56773 has earned its Ferrari Classiche certification, confirming it to be a full matching-numbers example, speaking to its well-preserved and factory-correct state.
During the car’s original federalization, the speedometer face was converted to display in miles, however, the odometer calibration remained in kilometers. As a required component of the Classiche Certification process, a speedometer unit with the correct kilometer-indicating face was sourced and fitted; as noted on the 22 August 2022 Continental Auto Sports invoice on file.
Displaying just 7,989 km (~4,965 miles) at the time of cataloguing, this 1985 288 GTO represents an extremely rare and exciting opportunity to acquire a premium example of one of Ferrari’s most desirable road cars. Rarely does the chance to obtain such a fine example of a North American delivered 288 GTO avail. Covering all desired attributes, including Ferrari Classiche certification, well-documented provenance, regular no-expense-spared service history, along with original books and tool kit, 56773 is without doubt one of the finest offerings of a Ferrari 288 GTO in recent times.
This vehicle will be offered at RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island sale, taking place 4 March 2023. View all lots and register to bid online at rmsothebys.com.
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