The elusive Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione

Few people have heard of the Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione, and fewer yet have seen one. This Group B project was robbed of its debut – here's its backstory...

The era of Group B racing is highly celebrated as one of the most exciting times to be a motorsport fan. The lack of restrictions saw manufacturers push engineering to the limits to create some of the most extreme cars ever made. Ferrari was set to join the Group B fun with the 288 GTO Evoluzione, but in 1986 the FIA disbanded the series and the Evo never got its chance to race.

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Ferrari wanted to take full advantage of the Group B regulations by creating a fire-breathing track car powered by a heavily turbocharged V8 engine and featuring advanced aerodynamics. They set to work building a lightweight tubular steel frame on which a carbon fibre body would sit. The aim was get the new car to tip the scales at less than 1000kg.

The 288 GTO Evoluzione was at the cutting edge of aerodynamic understanding and played host to an intricate series of ducts and channels to manipulate the air. A front splitter, flat underbelly, canards, and raked rear wing all contributed to this car’s substantial amount of downforce.

At the centre of this Prancing Horse was a twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V8 engine that could produce over 650bhp. Its power-to-weight ratio of 691bhp per tonne would have made it one of the fastest racing cars of the time. Sadly, when Group B died, so did the Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione, as it wasn’t eligible for any other category of motorsport. But there was light at the end of the tunnel…

Ferrari knew that this car had potential and so took its plight from the race track to the road. Enzo himself signed off on a project to turn the Evo into the first road-legal supercar to crack 200mph. Celebrating 40 years of Ferrari, the end result was the F40.

Just six Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione were ever made with the first being built on an existing 288 GTO. One is known to have been converted into a prototype for the F40, but the rest are scattered all over the world and are rarely seen.

The 288 GTO Evoluzione is no myth, it just never had the opportunity to become a legend.

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