The limited edition Ferrari production runs have become so important you’ll probably know exactly how many of your favourites were made. Just 349 F50s. 399 Enzos, plus one for the Pope. 599 599 GTOs (that’s the easy one). Plus, of course, churning out F40s like there was no tomorrow - all the way to 1,311.
Top marks, though, for those that know the number for the 288 GTO - a mere 272. This isn’t a GTO, however, if it wasn’t abundantly clear from the outrageous design. This Ferrari is a 288 GTO Evoluzione, one of the rarest, fastest and most desirable cars ever to feature the Prancing Horse on it. Including a prototype, just six were produced. This isn’t so much automotive royalty as a four-wheeled deity.
Though exotic and adventurous for Ferrari at the time, the standard 288 GTO wasn’t going to be competitive in Group B by the mid-1980s. Which shows how mad things were. Handily, the regulations allowed for Evolution models, where just 20 had to be made and could be renewed every year. They allowed for significant improvements to pretty much every aspect of the car so, in preparation for a Group B Circuit series, Ferrari threw everything at the GTO: the turbo V8 was overhauled to produce more than 50 per cent extra power (650hp vs 400hp), carbon bodywork slashed the weight to less than a tonne, and the wild aerodynamic add-ons boosted downforce. Nothing was left on the table in pursuit of another dominant Ferrari GTO.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. Group B was cancelled in May 1986, and the 230mph (!) Evoluzione could never be raced as intended. One car of the 20 had been finished by then, so Ferrari would hardly have been blamed for cutting its losses and leaving it there. Instead, it agreed that Michelotto (later responsible for the F40 LM) would build four more. So five production cars and one prototype, more than 35 years ago - that’s it.
Even more amazingly, Ferrari invited the media to drive a 288 GTO Evoluzione, despite the fact it would never race and knowing there would be so few. The launch was at Imola, and served as much as anything else to show what Ferrari was capable of at the time when it came to materials like carbon fibre and Kevlar. Lots of the learnings from the Evo would be employed for the common-as-muck (relatively speaking) F40.
This is the very car driven by the press back in 1987, chassis 79887. One of just three that were made with the circuit spec engine (another version for rallying was also created) and one of just three still in private collections - the ad states the other two are in institutions, surely unlikely to come out. This is also the only road-registered GTO Evoluzione. Some Sunday morning blast that would be. The car after this one, Evoluzione chassis 79888, was sold by RM Auctions last year, though a final sale price wasn’t published. Given everything - the provenance, the rarity, the value of 288 GTOs and the ongoing love for anything Group B-related - this must be into eight figures now. But then if the collection of ultimate Ferraris is missing that final puzzle piece, nothing else is quite going to cut it.
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