One of the rarest Ferraris out there is the 288 GTO Evoluzione. Some people see it as a 288 in disguise, whilst others see it as a prototype for the iconic F40. The Evoluzione proved that Ferrari was serious when wanting to enter the Group B races.
Do the wheels remind your of some other car? F40 LM maybe? Credit: ClassicDriver.com
The 1980s are often referred to as one of the most competitive periods in rallying, thanks to the Group B racing category (or Killer B's as it was also known). This category enabled some of the most frightening machines to race with (almost) no limits. It was an amazing spectacle with cars featuring a lightweight chassis, advanced aerodynamics and huge amounts of horsepower. All that created awe-inspiring numbers that are impressive even for today’s standards. Sadly, speed was a major issue; many drivers struggled to control the cars, which resulted in many deaths. So, in 1986, the FIA cancelled the Group B leaving the cars to tell their stories.
One of the most iconic Group B racecars-the Audi Quattro. Credit: Audi
One story comes from a prancing horse which never had a chance to compete in the notorious Group B-the 288 Evoluzione. This was the 288 GTO on some heavy steroids. While the GTO looked elegant and sophisticated in every way, the Evoluzione was the complete opposite. It was brutal, menacing, and simply mesmerizing. This Group B track car was one of Ferrari’s greatest hits. It was designed to take full advantage of racing regulations for this category, packing a lightweight chassis and a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V8 engine with 650hp. Because the car was so light (total weight of 940kg) and the engine so powerful, it could easily reach a top speed of 362 km/h (225 mph).
But, before the car was even finished, a terrifying crash happened during one Group B race, in which both driver and his navigator lost their lives. And after seeing what Ferrari wanted to bring to these races, the FIA cancelled this race group and ripped apart Ferrari’s dreams to compete in it.
So, does that mean that the Evoluzione was a total waste
Of course not! Even though this car couldn’t enter any other racing series (for being too radical) Enzo Ferrari saw something special in it. He used it to make the greatest car in the world-Ferrari F40. When revealed in 1987, the F40 came with the same 2.9-litre twin-turbo V8, though less powerful, and borrowed many design cues from the hardcore prancing horse.
We got the legendary F40 thanks to the Evoluzione. Credit: Supercars.net
This means that the Evoluzione had a huge role in its life. Yes, it was a rather unusual Ferrari, but it’s simply mind-boggling how a car that was meant to compete in the most extreme racing series ended up being a muse for a legendary supercar. And, all brutality aside, Evoluzione is quite beautiful. It was one of the most aerodynamic cars of its time, featuring a shovel nose, air vents, front canards and a massive rear wing.
Overtake? Pff, yeah right. Credit: ClassicDriver.com
Only 5 were made, but their whereabouts are unknown. One became a prototype for the F40, and one is displayed at Ferrari’s Museum in Maranello. But, the rest of them are probably locked away in some private collections. And that is a very sad ending for this car; built to compete in an insane racing series, used as a prototype for the legendary F40, and now collecting dust in some garage.