This homologation special is something of a unicorn for Ferrari collectors – with just 272 examples ever made

Famed Ferrari Collector David Lee has a mighty impressive garage of red cars. Highlights include an F40, F50, LaFerrari, and a Formula 1 car from one of the Prancing Horse’s most successful periods. One of Lee’s favourite Italian Stallions made its way down to Jay Leno’s Garage for the latest episode.

The iconic 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO takes centerstage with Leno in awe of this mighty machine — quite the achievement considering the vehicles in his own collection. This example has won a number of concours events, however, David Lee enjoys driving it on the street regularly.

He said: ‘It was one of my favourite cars. It was a car in high school that I dreamed about, open up Road & Track – unfortunately, there’s no more magazines like that — we opened it and I dreamed about it.’

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While from a distance the uninitiated might say that it looks similar to a Ferrari 308, the 288 GTO is a significantly different car. GTO stands for 'Gran Turismo Omologata', with the car serving as a homologation special for Group B cubit racing.

However, the series never really gained momentum and so only 272 examples were produced. Not a single specimen turned a wheel in anger on track.

The Ferrari is power by a twin-turbocharged 2.8-liter V8 engine, something that grants the 288 GTO 395hp. Thanks to lightweight materials and cutting-edge engineering of the time, this car could crack 0-60mph in just 5 seconds.

Jay remarks: ‘I love the non-airbag steering wheel, I love the proper gearshift lever that’s gated, it’s not an automatic, it’s not a paddle shift. It is the last of the era of analogue cars.’ We can’t help but agree with Mr Leno.

Hitting the open road, it is clear how raw the 288 GTO driving experience is. The engine is a continuous presence in the cabin — no bad thing — and the performance is still might impressive. Make sure your volume is up when watching the video as this car’s engine note is something special, too!

Somewhat overshadowed by the legendary Ferrari F40, the 288 GTO remains one of the Italian marque’s greatest creations. Check out the video for a detailed breakdown of this 80s icon.