Ferrari 288 GTO Takes the Stage at RM Monterey
By 1984, the words Gran Turismo Omologato already carried enormous weight in the Ferrari world. For years, the 250 GTO was considered the finest sports racer that Ferrari had ever produced. With an incredible racing record, which was only rivaled by its sensational driving dynamics, the GTO had been cemented into sports car lore as nothing short of a legend. For Ferrari to revive that legendary moniker, the new GTO would be expected to match or surpass the 250’s incredible record in motorsport.
Looking to contend in the FIA Group B, Ferrari produced and designed the GTO in order to homologate it for competition within that series, calling for a production run of 200 cars. Group B was incredibly popular following its introduction in the early 1980s, especially in Europe, and Ferrari was eager to jump into the fray. They were certain that their car would be unmatched in competition. However, Group B was cancelled shortly thereafter, leaving them with a fully developed and homologated car on their hands but no series to compete in. It was clear that the public was highly anticipating Ferrari’s newest no-compromises supercar, and the GTO was certainly not going to disappoint the brand’s fans or customers, even without a place to race.
The example offered here, chassis 55237, was the 137th Ferrari 288 GTO built and was fitted from the factory with air conditioning, power windows, red seat inserts, and the optional Ansa sport exhaust, as noted in Joe Sackey’s definitive work, The Book of the 288 GTO. According to his book, only a handful of 288s were originally equipped with the sport exhaust, and fewer yet with optional air conditioning and power windows as well. On 10 April 1985, it became the very first example of its kind officially imported into Japan, by official Ferrari importer Cornes & Company. The original owner was someone very prominent in Ferrari circles, Yoshiho Matsuda. One of the world’s foremost automobile collectors, Mr. Matsuda was particularly noted for what was, at the time, the world’s finest and most complete Ferrari collection, housing some of the marque’s most valuable and significant automobiles, including a trio 250 GTOs, in his museum-like setting.
Mr. Matsuda registered this car for the road and used it regularly on local streets in Japan, undoubtedly garnering significant attention. The car remained in his collection for a remarkable quarter of a century, a testament to the 288 GTO’s impressive driving dynamics. By the time that it left his ownership in 2010, it had accumulated just 9,500 km from new. Just prior to its sale that year, the car had received a major service, including a replacement of the timing belts, ensuring that it was ready for its new owner.
Following its Matsuda ownership, chassis no. 55237 remained in Japan until its importation to the U.S. in 2015. The following year it was acquired by the previous owner for his own esteemed stable. It was then acquired by the current owner shortly thereafter and in whose fastidious ownership it remains, in exemplary condition, having been driven about 3,000 km since leaving Japan. Importantly, it is accompanied by a history file that, by 288 GTO standards, is remarkably detailed and complete, including the original Japanese importation forms, registration documents, and service receipts, as well as the original tool set, jack, and spare keys.
The GTO, now heralded as the first of Ferrari’s incredible series of supercars, was robbed of its chance to earn its fabled name through the crucible of motorsport, but it more than lived up to its predecessor’s reputation as a fabulous driving machine. It has become a staple in many of the world’s greatest collections of Ferraris, just as this fine example was for Yoshiho Matsuda. This GTO, which has been very well maintained both under his tenure and since, has already proven itself worthy of the finest Ferrari collections on the planet, and it will undoubtedly continue to do so for its next caretaker.
Info from RM Sotheby’s and images from Erik Fuller.
The RM Sotheby’s auction takes place on August 24 and 25, 2018 at the:
Monterey Conference Center, 1 Portola Plaza, Monterey, California 93940
Auction Contact Info: +1 310 559 4575 and email@example.com