Supercar enthusiasts and devoted followers of Ferrari must recognize the significance of these intriguing initials - GTO.Gran Turismo Omologata, also known as Grand Touring Homologated, signifies a prestigious lineage. Whenever you encounter a GTO series vehicle, remember that each model is designed with a singular purpose - crafting the ultimate racing machine.
Each GTO model stood out as a distinctive two-seater with rear-wheel-drive, part of an exclusive limited series of vehicles.
Over the years, Ferrari has introduced only three generations of the GTO. The inaugural and most revered generation debuted in 1962. The second generation, designed to make a significant impact in the World Rally Championship (WRC), was released in 1984. The third generation, unveiled in 2010, diverged from the motorsport lineage.
Owners of models like the 250 GTO or 288 GTO often report a unique olfactory experience upon entering these classic cars. Initially, the distinct aromas of olives and petrol greet the senses. However, starting the engine harmoniously melds these scents with the distinctive roar of the Italian-engineered motor.
Born to Race
For many years, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) has adhered to a consistent philosophy. Before a car manufacturer can enter specific competitions, they must first produce a designated number of a particular model suitable for street use.
This requirement led to heightened drama at Ferrari's headquarters when the company aimed to compete against notable rivals such as the Shelby Cobra, Jaguar E-Type, and Aston Martin DB214 in the same championship. The tension peaked when Giotto Bizzarrini, the visionary behind the 250 GTO, and his team were reportedly expelled from Ferrari's office following a heated dispute with the fiery Enzo Ferrari.
While Giotto Bizzarrini is credited with crafting the 250 GTO's stunning and elegant design, his primary focus was on optimizing the car's aerodynamics. He believed that impeccable aerodynamic design was crucial for enhancing the 250 GTO's top speed and ensuring exceptional stability at high velocities. Remarkably, Bizzarrini refined the 250 GTO's design in the wind tunnel at the University of Pisa, addressing any aerodynamic flaws. His efforts resulted in a vehicle characterized by its elongated, sleek profile, aluminum body components, a modest frontal air intake for cooling, and a discreet rear spoiler. These innovative engineering choices contributed to the creation of one of the most aesthetically pleasing automobiles in history.
On the other hand, the mechanical aspects of the car leaned towards the traditional side. Many of its components were carried over from Ferrari's earlier racing models. The substantial petrol engine, positioned at the forefront, was also sourced from proven predecessors. Nevertheless, the 3-liter, twelve-cylinder engine emitted a roar akin to a mythical beast striving to break free from its infernal chains.
As Ferrari prepared to enter races, the FIA mandated the production of 100 units of the 250 GTO for street use. Did Ferrari comply with this directive? Not exactly. Enzo Ferrari ingeniously shuffled the already constructed vehicles between different lots, creating the illusion of compliance for FIA inspectors. In reality, Ferrari manufactured only 39 units of the 250 GTO, and notably, many of these units bore distinct differences from one another.Despite these discrepancies, the racing variant of the 250 GTO excelled in various motorsport competitions. Ferrari achieved triumph in the International Championship for GT Manufacturers in 1962, 1963, and 1964. Additionally, in 1963 and 1964, the 250 GTO clinched victories in the Tour de France Automobile, highlighting just a fraction of its illustrious racing pedigree.
Interested in a New Racing Series
After a hiatus of over two decades, the Gran Turismo Omologata concept made a comeback in Ferrari's plans. This time, Ferrari's ambition was to develop a racing supercar that would elevate its global prestige and delight Ferrari aficionados. However, the focus shifted towards transforming the infamous Group B, not the variant known for rallying in the mud, but rather the one poised for circuit racing.
At that time, the FIA was considering transferring the renowned Group B rally category to the asphalt track, effectively evolving the Group 5 regulations. Captivated by the prospect of this new racing category, Ferrari enlisted the expertise of highly skilled engineers and embraced cutting-edge technologies to create a vehicle that approached perfection. The effort was a resounding success.
Constructed with a fiberglass body, equipped with a high-revving eight-cylinder engine, boasting exceptional acceleration, and possessing an eager ability to dominate every corner, the car captivated not just Ferrari fans. However, just as Ferrari was on the brink of completing the 288 GTO project, the regulatory framework it was designed to compete within was abruptly discarded. This left Ferrari not only without a racing category but also with 272 cars built for the road.
Despite the setback and the introduction of the new Italian lira, the experience gained by Ferrari's engineers proved invaluable. This expertise was channeled into the creation of the 288 GTO Evoluzione, which served as a rolling laboratory. The innovations and components developed for the Evoluzione were subsequently integrated into the iconic Ferrari F40, showcasing the valuable lessons learned during its development.
The Fall of GTO
Set aside the venerable traditions and the guiding principles of Italian craftsmanship to introduce Ferrari, a brand synonymous with producing vehicles of exceptional value. This perspective accurately encapsulates Ferrari's strategy with the launch of the 599 GTO in 2010.
Designed with the primary objective of generating profit, the 599 GTO was purported by company officials to be a toned-down version of the 599XX model. However, despite these claims, most of its characteristics suggested that it was far from being a mere shadow of its track-oriented counterpart.
Despite its focus on profitability, the 599 GTO had its merits. At the time of its release, it stood as the fastest model in the Ferrari lineup. The car achieved a remarkable lap time on the Fiorano circuit, completing it in 1 minute and 24 seconds—shaving a full second off the time set by the Ferrari Enzo. This performance is undeniably impressive.
In 2010, the newly introduced GTO was tagged with a significant price of 320,000€. Yet, despite the hefty investment required, all 599 units produced were quickly snapped up by eager buyers.
The 599 GTO represented the third and, quite possibly, the final iteration of its lineage, largely due to widely acknowledged factors. In a changing world where the Road Racer category of cars finds little space, the likelihood of Ferrari introducing another GTO model seems increasingly slim.