Every example of the Ferrari 288 GTO is special, but this one is perhaps a little more special than most due to the fact that its first owner was Walter Wolf – an oil industry magnate, founder of the Walter Wolf Racing F1 team, and a collector of some of the world’s most exotic supercars.
Wolf is most famous for that fact that his team won the first race they entered, with Jody Scheckter in the cockpit at the 1977 Argentine Grand Prix. Scheckter would finish the season in second place in the standings, an incredible result for the team.
Fast Facts – The Walter Wolf Ferrari 288 GTO
- This Ferrari 288 GTO was bought new by Walter Wolf through the Garage Foitek AG in Zürich, Switzerland. Wolf had residences in Canada, Mexico, and Switzerland and liked to keep cars at each of them.
- The Ferrari 288 GTO was the first Ferrari to carry the GTO badge since the mighty Ferrari 250 GTO of the early 1960s – a car that had been built for the FIA GT Championship and won the title in 1962, 1963, and 1964.
- The 288 GTO was styled by Pininfarina’s Leonardo Fioravanti and intended, at least in part, to compete in Group B sports car racing. The car started out using the platform of the 308 GTB however it ended up being highly modified with little of the original car remaining.
- Power is provided by a 2.8 liter V8 with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, twin IHI turbochargers, two Behr air-to-air intercoolers, and Weber-Marellifuel injection, Power was listed at 400 bhp with 366 lb ft of torque.
The Arrival Of The New GTO
Much has been written about the Ferrari 288 GTO, which perhaps isn’t surprising given that it is one of the most historically consequential Ferrari road cars ever made – even though it never actually raced in the FIA series that it was intended for.
Ferrari explains that the 288 GTO was created and offered for sale to meet the minimum FIA homologation requirement of 200 cars to enter Group B sports car racing. The 288 got its name from the displacement of the engine and the number of cylinders – 2.8 liters and 8 cylinders.
The styling of the car was done by Pininfarina’s Leonardo Fioravanti and it included a few small references to the original 250 GTO – like the triple air vents behind each of the rear wheels. The 288 GTO was first announced by Enzo Ferrari in September of 1983, then later unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1984.
The FIA racing discipline for which it had been created would never materialize, however Ferrari had absolutely no problem selling them. Demand was such that 272 were built in total, and all were sold before their production had commenced.
The 288 GTO was built using lessons learned from the Ferrari Formula 1 team, including the use of state-of-the-art materials like Kevlar and Nomex, not to mention the turbocharged and intercooled engine. Many of these technologies would see extensive use on later Ferraris, including on the Ferrari F40 that followed shortly after the 288 GTOs release.
Ferrari 288 GTO – Specifications
The Ferrari 288 GTO initially started out using the pre-existing 308 GTB platform. A new tubular steel chassis was created in order to lengthen the car so that the V8 engine could be mounted longitudinally rather than transversely, this was to allow space for the twin turbochargers and their intercoolers on each side.
A new body was built using a combination of fiberglass, Kevlar, and Nomex – the 288 GTO was notably wider and longer than the 308 GTB with the wheelbase extended from 234cm to 245.1cm. A Kevlar and Nomex bulkhead was developed and fitted between the driver and engine to offer protection in racing applications.
The original quad cam, 32 valve 2,927cc 90º V8 was downsized to 2,855cc in order to comply with racing regulations and then paired with twin IHI turbochargers which were fed by two Behr air-to-air intercoolers, and a Weber-Marellifuel injection system.
Engine power was exceptional for the time, with 400 bhp at 7,000 rpm and 366 lb ft of torque at 3,800 rpm. This was all sent to the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission, and the car sits on independent unequal-length wishbones with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar front and back.
The dry weight of the Ferrari 288 GTO is 1160 kgs or 2,557 lbs and the top speed is listed by Ferrari as 305 km/h or 189.5 mph – the 0-62 mph time is 4.9 seconds.
The Walter Wolf Ferrari 288 GTO Shown Here
As noted in the introduction, this 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO was bought new in Switzerland by Walter Wolf – an oil tycoon and larger than life figure who was one of the biggest figures in the world of Formula 1 in the mid-to-late 1970s.
Wolf first started appearing in F1 paddocks in 1976 when he bought a controlling stake in Frank Williams’ Formula 1 team – he also acquired the assets of Hesketh Racing. The new Wolf-Williams FW05 would be based closely on the Hesketh 308C.
Frank Williams left the team in 1977 and set up Williams Grand Prix Engineering, leaving Walter Wolf to establish Walter Wolf Racing. Despite the turmoil Walter Wolf Racing would make a name for itself in the history books by winning its first ever race thanks to the driving skill of Jody Scheckter and some good luck.
Wolf was a larger than life figure in the world of supercars, developing custom Lamborghinis and owning a number of exotics including the 288 GTO you see here. Interestingly when he owned this car in Switzerland he had a “Wolf” badge added to the rear and he registered the car on Mexican license plates but kept it in Europe.
It’s now due to roll across the auction block with Bonhams on the 9th of October and it has a listed price guide of €3,700,000 – €4,100,000, which is approximately $3,660,000 – $4,060,000 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bonhams and WalterWolf.com
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.