In 1984 Ferrari produced a street-legal car that paradoxically and magically combined the most sublime beauty with a very raw level of performance. Developed beside the Testarossa, the car also bore a name writ large in Ferrari history: GTO - Gran Turismo Omologata. The 1962-64 250 GTO is perhaps the most desired of all Ferraris, and amongst the rarest. It was a notably successful racing car, homologated for GT sports car racing in the golden era. The 1984 GTO was a 2.8 liter twin turbocharged V8 with a power output of 400bhp (140bhp / liter) enough to reach 60mph in 5s or less, and with a conservatively rated top speed of 189mph. Like its forebear, the GTO's real home was to be the public roads designated as FISA Group B racing tracks, for which series it was necessary to homologate 200 customer cars. In fact Ferrari built 272 modern GTOs, and because of the demise of the no-holds barred Group B supercar series almost all became road cars. With their blend of serene control and dynamic violence they have been called the most exciting automobiles ever created.
It is worth noting that no GTOs were imported into North America by Ferrari, and prospective buyers should therefore purchase through an authorized Ferrari dealer to ensure the car is correctly Federalized.
The GTO's styling is at first glance an evolution of Pininfarina's twin 1970s mid-engined masterworks: the Berlinetta Boxer and the 308. It was in fact a very different car, sharing not even the respective dimensions of these pure street machines. Most notably it was shorter, with a longer wheelbase, and considerably wider - the traits of a racing car. Visually similar to the 308, the GTO enjoys a subtly cleaner and more aggressive design. It is somehow smoother, its lines more taut and muscular as the bodywork sought to cover the chassis and cabin without excess fuss. Echoing the 250 GTO, the 288 had sectionally semicircular nacelles feeding air to the engine compartment, and angled fender gill-slits and hood louvers for exhausting the air. The GTO, however, had its compact V8 situated longitudinally behind the cabin, and its transaxle was clearly visible to those behind the car. Amongst the most noticeable styling details were the extremely deep front airdam beneath massive auxilliary lights suitable for illuminating a dusty, rainy, or dark race course, high-mounted side mirrors to give the driver a clear view over and around the large wheel blisters, and a highly aggressive kamm tail suggestive of stability at extremely high speed. These visual cues were all accurate to the car's purpose and capability. As interesting was the almost complete lack of brightwork: even the cavallino between the tail lights was black. The GTO required nothing extra to be noticed, although like all racing Ferraris it carried the Scuderia Ferrari enamel badges on its flanks; visual subtlety was a hallmark.
The GTO's aerodynamics were designed to be in street-legal conformity with the homologation regulations. As such, it is a car designed for stability up to its terminal velocity, although it lacks the sophisticated undertray design and aerodynamic refinement of later Ferraris.
The body of the GTO was advanced for its time, being comprised principally of fiberglass and composites. The goal was lightness with strength derived from the chassis and subframes: contemporary racing design. Compressed fiberglass formed the floorpan, and most body panels. In some places, such as the engine cover, aluminum was used to augment other materials. In some places Kevlar and Nomex were employed for their respective properties. The Engine compartment was largely enclosed by an aluminum honeycomb with a Kevlar skin, and by a Kevlar and Nomex combination - heat resistant, fire retardant, strong, and light. The GTO came in only one colour: Rosso Corsa - Racing Red.
The GTO tubular chassis was formed of large-oval section steel welded to square- and rectangular-section tubes as warranted. The chassis was a series of subframes, each formed to its purpose and attached to the central section around the cabin. The entire rear subframe, containing the rear suspension and drivetrain, could be dropped from the car for quicker maintenance, another competition feature. Occupants were specially protected by a full roll hoop invisibly contained within the roof and B-pillars. Rigid and strong but light, the GTO's chassis was the perfect platform for road and track, capable of handling with aplomb the vast amount of torque and power which the stock or racing drivetrain would put through it.
The GTO was powered by a 2,855cc 90° V8 Twin Turbocharged all alloy engine, arranged longitudinally behind the passenger cabin in unit with the rear transaxle. The four-valves per cylinder were actuated by dual overhead camshafts driven by a toothed belt. Each cylinder bank had its own ignition system controlled, like the fuel injection system, by a pair of Weber-Marelli units. Connected aluminum fuel tanks with a total capacity of 31.7 gallons each fed a bank of cylinders. Fully employing a basic compression ratio of 7.6:1 via alloy con rods, the flat topped pistons drove a forged steel crankshaft formed from a single billet, the whole being cooled and lubricated by a special oil injection system. Lubrication was by a dry sump with twin circuits and an oil radiator in the engine bay. Cooling was by a front-mounted radiator aided by twin thermostatic fans. Air was delivered to each bank of cylinders through its own large IHI turbocharger and massive Behr Intercooler. The turbochargers were driven by exhaust gasses leaving the engine through large tubular manifolds, eventually exiting the system through a single muffler. A wastegate helped reduce turbo lag. This powerplant, benefiting from Ferrari's F1 turbocharging experience, developed 400bhp at 7000rpm and 366lb-ft of torque from 3800rpm.
The only transmission offered on the GTO was a fully synchronised 5-speed manual with hydraulically actuated single-plate clutch. The transmission and differential were both housed in magnesium and aluminum alloy cases. To aid in optimal weight distribution, the transmission sat behind the differential, drive going through 180° from the crankshaft to the end of the driveshaft. Gear selection was actuated by solid rods and forks to ensure positive engagement in all conditions.
The GTO was built with a fully independent suspension employing unequal-length wishbones with coil springs over manually adjustable Koni shock absorbers. The wisbones were of high-tensile tubular steel, and the strut assemblies were located differently at the front and the rear. Front and rear anti-roll bars contributed to the car's high cornering stability.
The GTO had ventillated disc brakes with a diameter of 12.05" at the front and 12.2" at the rear. Twin-piston calipers were actuated by a servo-assisted dual-channel hydraulic system, with front and rear braking automatically regulated.
Steering on the GTO was by unassisted rack and pinion. The car rode on special two-piece Speedline aluminum wheels carrying 225/50-16 tires at the front and 255/50-16 at the rear. The 16" wheels were secured to the hubs by means of a single nut, in the manner of a racing car.
Although designed originally for the track, the GTO did not have a spartan interior. Although all but the most basic amenities were deleted, passengers were nonetheless comfortable in the purposeful and roomy interior. Although two interior schemes were available, almost all GTOs were built with extremely supportive kevlar-framed black leather seats. The alternative featured bright orange inserts in the leather. Most striking, aside from the general functionality of the cockpit, was the non-reflective material covering the dashboard to ensure a clear view at all times. The driver was faced with a Ferrari standard three-spoke, leather-rimmed wheel and highly readable orange-on-black gauges the most important in the binnacle with auxiliaries angled in from the center of the dashboard. Beneath these central gauges were the climate control system, and a space for a user-installed sound system. The center console, separated from the dashboard, was dominated by the familiar steel shift lever in its polished gate. The remainder of the console housed auxiliary controls. The GTO did not feature any storage or luggage space, and the compact placement of the longitudinal engine necessitated an access panel directly behind the seats. The GTO was a high-performance sports car in the truest sense.