Introducing the 288 GTO in 1984 was the first Ferrari to bear the GTO brand since the legendary 250 GTO of the 1950s. For the FIA’s now-legendary Group B, a manufacturing run of 200 cars was planned for the homologation of the platform. Group B was keen to challenge Ferrari in what was then the most thrilling and hazardous type of motorsport, with teams like Audi, Peugeot, and Lancia all vying for supremacy. Ferrari’s 288 GTO had already been fully constructed and homologated when the class was canceled in 1987, and thus it never got the chance to show its mettle.
Although Ferrari suffered a loss in the competition, it nonetheless sold the road-going 288 GTOs to its most devoted customers, and a total of 272 units were produced. The 288 GTO was no slacker, though, with a peak speed of 189 mph and featured leather-trimmed seats, optional air conditioning, and motorized windows. Its new 400-horsepower twin-turbocharged V-8 engine powered a car weighing only 1,160 kg.
On February 12, 1985, Ferrari completed chassis number 55223, the 130th GTO to be produced. Hartmut Ibing, a well-known Ferrari collector, purchased the car, equipped with air conditioning and power windows, and kept it in his garage alongside a 250 GTO (3809 GT). On May 10, Ibing went to the Maranello facility in person to take up the car. Ibing drove the GTO registered in his native Germany to the south of France.
Ibing’s 288 GTO was taken nine days later from a hotel garage in Cannes while it was still parked there. A car dealer in Phoenix bought the vehicle without realizing it had been illegally seized from a car dealership in Los Angeles and sent back to France. It was fortunate for Ibing’s insurance company that a pair of investigators employed by them tracked down the car and returned it to the country. He sent the car back to Maranello for a thorough inspection before he could continue to enjoy it. The 288 GTO, which had been driven 13,340 kilometers by 1997, remained in possession of Ibing in Düsseldorf until 2001, when it was serviced by Auto Becker, Ferrari’s local dealership, in Düsseldorf. It was also on display in the Nürburgring’s museum for a period. Rollie Stephenson purchased it later that year and had it moved to Sherwood, Wisconsin. JK Technologies handled the GTO’s federalization when it was imported. There was one notable difference: The odometer was left unchanged, and it continued to display kilometers instead of miles per hour.
According to a recent interview with RM Sotheby’s, while attending a few events with the Ferrari Club of America as a spectator, Stephenson drove the car only a few thousand kilometers. He had a great time driving the 288 GTO the way it was meant to be driven. A minor accident occurred immediately before the sale of the 288 to the present owner, resulting in minor damage to the front valance. Even though Stephenson wasn’t driving the car, Motion Products of Neenah, Wisconsin, rebuilt and repainted the original spoiler for him.
Stephenson was the car’s only previous owner, and he sold it to the consignor in December 2010. A timing belt service was performed on the vehicle after the acquisition, and Motion Products has maintained it. According to records, in the winter of 2017-2018, the GTO had substantial work at Motion Products, which included rebuilding the timing belt, restoring the original fuel pumps and ECU, and installing a new battery, muffler, and tires on file. This service cost over $36,000. Afterward, the automobile was shipped to Florida and displayed at the 2018 Cavallino Classic. In addition to the service bills, the 288 comes with a set of owner’s manuals, two sets of keys, a tool kit, and a jack.
Although the 288 GTO has been on the market for 35 years, it continues to be an exhilarating car to drive and has proven a worthy successor to the 250 GTO. Only the 288 GTO is more desirable than the F40, F50, Enzo, and La Ferrari because of its rarity.