Gran Turismo Omologato, a story of Ferrari’s fiercest
GTO. Three letters that can get any Ferrari fanatic’s heart racing. GTO stands for Gran Turismo Omolagato, which loosely translates to Gran Turismo Homolgated, and means that it was a road car made for homologation purposes for GT racing. The first one in this line of cars was the 250 GTO, followed by the 288 GTO and then the slightly controversial 599 GTO. The GTO line is as prestigious as it gets in Ferrari’s lineup of cars, they are the most exclusive and the most expensive models, with a 250 GTO having recently set a record for the most expensive car sold to date.
The 250 GTO is arguably one of the best looking Ferrari’s to date, and in my opinion it is one of the best looking cars to date, period. We even have a massive poster of a 250 GTO in our office and it is the car where GTO Publishing, the company that publishes this magazine got its name from. It was my favourite car for a long time, before I fell in love with the 288 GTO. I was lucky enough to see one in person at the ‘Seeing Red’ exhibit at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles a couple of years ago and boy does it look good. The details take your breath away — leather fasteners for the hood, aggressive air vents, wired rims and that gorgeous sculpted shape, it is a beauty. Ferrari had to make a total of a 100 road cars in order to meet FIA’s homologation requirements. However, the company only ended up making 36 GTOs and used the 250 GT’s production to cover the gap. The 250 GTO was tweaked throughout it’s short three year lifespan where only 36 were built, 33 of them were the normal cars and 3 of them were the Series 2 bodied cars. The Series 2 cars were lower, wider and had the full Testarossa spec engines under the hood.
Ferrari came out with the 250 GTO in 1962 at the Sebring 12 hours. Ferrari’s superstar at the time, Phil Hill was not too keen on driving the GTO. It was competing in a class lower than the 250 Testarossa and meant that it would never be able to compete for the overall victory, something Phil was keen to do. However, they were surprised to finish second overall behind one of the Testarossas, and first in their class. Phil came away impressed with how well the GTO handled and the fact that it could actually keep up and beat the prototype class cars. This was only the start of a very, very successful racing history for the 250 GTO’s, it won the International Championship for GT Manufacturers three years in a row and the Tour de France Automobile twice.
The 288 GTO, simply named the GTO, came about in 1984, almost 20 years after Ferrari stopped making the 250 GTO. The 288 GTO was another model built for homologation purposes, this time for the Group B circuit racing category. The FIA required 200 road cars to be built and Ferrari ended up making 272 due to excessive demand, all but one were painted red, one was black. However, the Group B programme was scrapped due to the dangers seen in Group B rallying and that meant the 288 GTO never went racing, officially at least. Nevertheless, the 288 GTO was an incredible car, it had a twin-turbocharged 2.8-litre V8 (hence the 288 nickname). It was capable of producing 394bhp and 496Nm of torque with a 0 to 100kmph time of just 4.9 seconds and a top whack of 305kmph. Yes, these figures sound like nothing today but in 1984, it was revolutionary.
However, when it was unveiled at the 1984 Geneva Motor Show, it was sort of misunderstood as a slightly revamped 308. The 288 GTO was far from that though, while it might look similar on the outside, there were a lot of differences between the two — the 288 GTO had a longer wheelbase, a longitudinally placed engine, a lot more aerodynamic improvements on the outside and a body made partly from polycarbonates to save weight. The 288 GTO was overshadowed by the F40, but with such limited numbers, a brilliant powertrain and drop dead gorgeous styling, the GTO is one of the most collectible Ferraris today.
Brutal would probably be the best way to describe the 599 GTO. It came about at a time when Ferrari was at the pinnacle of motorsport, and was a road homologated of the 599XX. V12, 660bhp and a top speed in excess of 330kmph and a soundtrack that can put Mozart to shame, for us petrolheads atleast. The 599 GTO was the fastest car around the company’s Fiorano test track at the time, no thanks to the extremely complex electronics system developed with motorsport influence, that would not only help put the power down, but aid cornering and braking too.
The V12 engine was mated to an F1 derived six-speed semi-automatic gearbox, which helped the 599 GTO reach 100kmph from a standstill in just 3.35 seconds. Production was limited to 599 units, the highest among the three GTO models by far and the 599 GTO was the only one that was actually not used for homologation purposes for any racing series, making the GTO moniker on it slightly controversial.
Well that’s a brief history on the three GTO models to date, there are rumours and spy shots of an 812 GTO being developed, which should be blisteringly fast judging by how quick the standard 812 already is. However, nothing is confirmed yet and we’ll just have to wait and see!