Ferrari 288 GTO Rally Car into the dangerous Group B rally championship. This radical mid-engine twin-turbo V8 coupe succeeded against expectations, proving Ferrari’s rally capabilities and cementing the 288 as an icon.
Ferrari 288 GTO Rally Car Shocking Move From Ferrari
Eyebrows raised when Ferrari announced its intention to campaign the brand new 288 GTO alongside arch-rival Porsche’s 959 Group B racer. Conventional wisdom saw Ferrari as a circuit racing powerhouse, not dirt rally contender.
But Ferrari aimed to enhance its engineering reputation and motorsport pedigree. Developing a competitive Group B Ferrari became a passion project directly from Enzo Ferrari. His personal directive pushed the company outside its comfort zone.
Bespoke Rally Upgrades
Significant modifications transformed the road 288 GTO for rally’s grueling demands. Engineers strengthened chassis mounting points and added skid plates to protect the underbody from impacts.
Special long travel suspension with remote reservoirs increased wheel articulation over rough terrain. Massive fender flares swallowed 15-inch wheels wearing gravel tires. Adjustable spoilers and wings optimized downforce.
Big Power in a Lightweight Package
Motivating the rally GTO was its tube frame-mounted 2.8-liter twin-turbo V8 producing over 650 horsepower. This enormous output reached all four wheels via a unique multi-plate clutch AWD system co-developed with Michelotti.
Despite power upgrades, weight stayed under 2,200 pounds thanks to composite bodywork. Generous mid-range torque and tenacious traction created startling acceleration off the line – a Ferrari rally trademark.
Ferrari 288 GTO Rally Car Success Exceeds Expectations
To the world’s surprise, the Ferrari 288 GTO showed immense pace from its first event in 1985. Reliability accompanied speed – a rarity for turbo Ferraris.
The GTO claimed the 1985 FIA Group B championship, a monumental achievement. Ferrari proved it could channel racing dominance into rally, enlarging its winning mystique. The shocking decision paid off by crowning Ferrari’s 50th anniversary.
Ferrari 288 GTO Rally Car Lasting Cultural Significance
The Ferrari 288 GTO’s rally success demonstrated Maranello’s racing and engineering capabilities reached far beyond circuits. Developing a competitive Group B car expanded Ferrari’s identity in the public eye.
It also cemented the 288 GTO’s iconic status for bringing Ferrari into rally successfully. As a homologation special turned giant killer, the 288 GTO had greater depth than a mere road car. Ferrari created one of motorsport’s most impressive overachievers.
Bittersweet Group B Victory
However, this Group B triumph transpired as tragedy loomed. Spectator and driver deaths from frightening accidents at events like Rally Portugal darkened the season’s excitement. Group B’s extreme speeds were simply too dangerous for public roads.
Ferrari mutually agreed to leave Group B in 1986 alongside Audi and Lancia. The short life of Ferrari’s rally program underscores the bittersweet dichotomy between motorsport glory and peril at the time. But their accomplishment endures as a story of unintended excellence against odds.