The intersection of Group B racing and Ferrari is a seldom talked about moment in history, largely because it never really happened. But this car, the 1987 Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione is a reminder that the automaker was looking to join the ’80s most extreme racing class.
One of just five in existence, the car was an evolution of the 288 GTO, as allowed under FIA regulations, that was intended to be used to homologate the brand’s entry into Group B sports car racing.
But, the class was quickly canceled after a series of tragic accidents, so Ferrari called it quits after having built just five of the 20 homologation models it had intended to. Although it never got the opportunity to really race, all indications point towards it being an impressive beast.
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Powered by the Tipo F114 CK engine, it was capable of churning out 650 hp (485 kW/659 PS), a full 60 percent more than the standard 288 GTO could manage. Weighing in at just 940 kg (2,072 lbs) it had the best power-to-weight ratio of any rival in its era and was capable of reaching 229.9 mph (369.9 km/h).
Although it was an impressive performer, the new body, designed by Pininfarina and made out of Kevlar and fiberglass, looks like it prioritized function over aesthetics. Put it next to an F40, though, and the ideas that were being worked on become immediately clear. Although far from identical to the supercar that followed it, the 288 GTO Evoluzione became an important test bed for the F40.
This example, chassis number 79888, the fourth of five and was first purchased by Jean Blaton, a wealthy Belgian industrialist who was also a handy privateer racecar driver. Having raced at Le Mans 15 times in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, he drove some of Ferrari’s most iconic cars, including the 250 Testa Rossa, the 250 LM, the 250 GTO, and the 330 P4, among others.
One of Ferrari’s favorite privateers, he was an obvious recipient of the 288 GTO Evoluzione. Since then, the car has been owned by a number of collectors over the years, most notably by Lawrence Stroll.
Now being sold by a seller in Germany, the car was recently returned to Michelotto in Padova, who helped Ferrari with the original build, in order to be serviced. The majority of its perishables were replaces, the dampers, brake calipers, water pump, and both turbos were overhauled, new tires were fitted, and the original gearbox was brought back to like new condition.
The final GT race car okayed by Enzo Ferrari, the road-legal powerhouse, is a piece of history and an important link in the Ferrari story. More to the point, it’s extremely rare, so it ought to go for a pretty penny when it’s auction by RM Sotheby’s between October 19 and 21.