It was the first of its kind. An extreme car, which broke the mould, introducing new construction concepts and methodologies and that fully deserved it the title of supercar symbol of the 1980s. We are talking about the Ferrari GTO.
When the FISA – Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile – announced that it was to launch a new championship for GT cars under Group B rules, Enzo Ferrari enthusiastically embraced the challenge and began development of the GTO. The project was headed by a heavy design hitter Mauro Forghieri. After leaving Ferrari’s GES division to devote himself to advanced research, the designer used the 308 GTB’s running gear as his starting point, bestowing it with some very surprising solutions derived directly from Formula 1.
A very successful attempt to meld the mid-rear-engined sports car concept with the very finest technology of the day, the GTO turned out to be extreme on every level. In fact, it was the first car to be built using innovative composites – Kevlar, for example, was used for the bodyshell. It is also the first production car with Formula 1-derived electronic fuel injection which boosted the delivery of the 400 hp generated by its V8 engine. Its displacement was also cut to 2,855cc, to comply with Group B rules, and sported twin IHI turbochargers and intercoolers, one per cylinder bank, just like the Formula 1 single-seaters. The GTO also unleashed a spectacular top speed of 305 km/h, making it quite literally uncatchable by any other production car of the day. Because of its close links to Formula 1, Ferrari also involved its two Scuderia drivers for the 1984 season, René Arnoux and Michele Alboreto, in its development. In fact, Enzo Ferrari frequently appeared more interested in how the GTO’s development was progressing rather than that year’s Formula 1 car, the Ferrari 126 C4.
The GTO was something of a throwback to the glorious competition Gran Turismos of the past, even though the FISA abolished Group B before the car could race. The car’s name also references the 250 GTO, probably the most iconic car in Prancing Horse history. Its Pininfarina styling was inspired by the lines of the 308 GTB and the aerodynamic study for the 308 GTB Speciale, better known as the “Millechiodi”. However, it pushed those lines and forms to new extremes to make them as aerodynamically efficient as they were aggressive. The GTO was also the very first limited edition car in Ferrari history. The planned 200 examples all sold well before its unveiling at the 1984 Geneva Motor Show. As a result, the decision was made to build a further 72 which, unsurprisingly, very quickly found buyers.