Ferrari 288 GTO @ Bonhams The Zoute Sale

Ferrari 288 GTO @ Bonhams The Zoute Sale

Auction Date: 9 October 2022, 13:00 CEST - Knokke-Heist, Place Albert de Knokke Le Zoute

Delivered new to Walter Wolf
1985 Ferrari 288 GTO
Est:  €3,700,000 - €4,100,000
One of an estimated 272 built
Fully matching numbers (chassis, engine, gearbox, differential)
Known ownership history and only 25,600 km from new
Stamped service book on file
Ferrari Classiche certified

The original, immortal 250 GTO had been developed for the FIA GT Championship, duly taking the manufacturer's title for Ferrari in 1962, 1963 and 1964; clearly, any revival of the 'GTO' name could only be permitted for a very special car indeed. Enter the 288 GTO. Like its illustrious forebear, the 288 GTO (the initials stand for Gran Turismo Omologato) was conceived as a limited-edition model, just 200 units being planned to meet the then-existing Group B homologation requirements for international sports car racing. Styled by Pininfarina's Leonardo Fioravanti, creator of the awe-inspiring Ferrari 365 GTB/4 'Daytona', the 288 GTO made its public debut at the Geneva Salon in February 1984. Fioravanti later recalled Enzo Ferrari's original design brief. 'There was no specific instruction, just to produce a car based on the 308 GTB that could be used for racing.'

The 288 GTO was radically different from contemporary Ferrari road cars, mounting its V8 engine longitudinally rather than transversely, a change that necessitated a new chassis with a wheelbase extended from 234cm to 245.1cm. This new frame was constructed of steel tubes in the traditional manner while incorporating the latest in Formula 1-derived composite technology in the form of a Kevlar and Nomex bulkhead between the driver and engine. The alteration in engine layout had been made to accommodate twin IHI turbo-chargers and their associated Behr inter-coolers and plumbing; the adoption of forced induction requiring that the quad-cam, 32-valve V8 be downsized from 2,927cc to 2,855cc to comply with the regulations. Ferrari's considerable experience gained from turbo-charging its Formula 1 engines was deployed in adapting the existing three litre unit, the latter in highly modified 288 GTO form producing 400bhp at 7,000 rpm and a mighty 366lb/ft of torque at just 3,800 revs. Top speed was a staggering 189mph.

Its three rear-wing cooling slots deliberately recalling the earlier GTO, the 288 body likewise benefited from the adoption of F1 technology, being constructed of glass fibre and a mixture of the lightweight composite materials Kevlar and carbon fibre. Aerodynamically refined in the wind tunnel, the 288 GTO sported flared wheel arches, larger front and rear spoilers, taller door mirrors and four additional driving lights in the front grille, these subtly altered looks combining elegance with muscularity in equal measure. Given its race-bred, state-of-the-art technology and drop-dead gorgeous looks, it is not surprising that the 288 GTO appealed to Formula 1 drivers of the day, with Ferrari's Michele Alboretto and René Arnoux, and even McLaren's Nikki Lauda, numbered among its owners. In the event, the 288 GTO never contested the races for which it had been conceived as the FIA axed Group B, citing lack of manufacturer interest as the reason.

Published production figures vary (some sources saying 272 were built, others 278) but whatever the number, every example had been sold prior to the start of production in July 1984. Its UK price was £73,499 at a time when a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow cost a comparatively trifling £59,468. Just a few years after production ceased early in 1986, the typical asking price had more than trebled, assuming you could find a 288 GTO for sale. Today this worthy successor to the 250 GTO remains one of the rarest, most desirable, and sought-after Ferraris of recent times.

This car, chassis number '54783', was completed on 15th January 1985 and imported into Switzerland via SAVAF in Meyrin. The car left the Maranello factory finished in classic Rosso Corsa with a nera (black) leather interior featuring contrasting red cloth inserts and was specified with wind-up windows but no air conditioning. This rare combination of wind-up windows, no air-conditioning and desirable cloth insert seats is often referred to lightweight specification. The Ferrari was supplied to Garage Foitek AG in Zürich and on 24th April 1985 was sold to its first owner, wealthy Canadian businessman and former Formula 1 team owner, Walter Wolf, who had residences in Canada and Mexico as well as Switzerland. He had a 'Wolf' badge fixed to the rear of the Ferrari and registered the car on Mexican plates but kept it in Europe. In this form the GTO was pictured in Hans-Karl Lange's book, Ferrari.

The Austrian-naturalised Wolf had made a fortune from the North Sea oil business in the early 1970s, and in 1976 bought a controlling stake in Frank Williams' Formula 1 operation. At the same time, Wolf also acquired the assets of Hesketh Racing, and its first Formula 1 design - the Wolf-Williams FW05 - would be based on the Hesketh 308C. Following Williams' departure at the end of 1976, the team was re-structured as Wolf Racing and its new Harvey Postlethwaite-designed WR1 won on its first outing in Argentina with South African Jody Scheckter at the wheel. Scheckter won two more races and finished on the podium on six more occasions to finish 2nd in the 1977 World Championship behind Ferrari's Niki Lauda. That would turn out to be the zenith of Wolf's Formula 1 adventure, and at the end of the 1979 season he sold the team to Emerson Fittipaldi.

On 12th June 1992, the ex-Wolf GTO was re-exported to Italy having been sold to Autonoleggio Adventure Sprint Italia Srl of Desenzano. On 9th July 1992 the car was registered as 'BS E22298' and two days later was sold to Giuseppe Lemme of Dalmine, Italy (Luchini Automobili di Giuseppe Lemme). Later that same month, Lemme sold the Ferrari to San Marco Automobili Srl of Milan, Italy, a motor dealership owned by a stockbroker named Brocca. On 18th January 1993 the Ferrari was reregistered as 'MI 4Y2116'.

On 7th March 2001 the GTO was registered in the name of Brocca's partner, Barbara Magnani. Next owner Luciano Colosio bought the car on 3rd November 2003. In August 2012, '54783' was sold via broker Andreas Birner to its next owner, Heinrich Fries of Munich and reregistered as 'M-GT 2880'. Ferrari Classiche certified the GTO on 11th September 2013, confirming that the car retains its fully original drivetrain. On 5th February 2016, dealer Moritz Werner sold the Ferrari to Josef Hausmann. The current mileage is just over 25,600 km.

Naturally retaining its original leather wallet, jack, tools and books - including the service book stamped by Ferrari agents up to March 2019 - '54783' represents a rare opportunity to acquire a 288 GTO of known provenance possessing supporting documentation and the all-important Ferrari Classiche 'Red Book'. The GTO will have received a comprehensive service by Schaltkulisse Engineering, including belts and fluids, including brake fluid, prior to sale and will come with its Ferrari car cover.

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