Driving into Summer | Lot 279
1985 Ferrari 288 GTO
$2,310,000 USD | Sold
| Stuart, Florida
21 - 29 May 2020
- One of only 272 produced
- Three owners from new; driven 23,555 original kilometers
- Originally owned by well-known Ferrari collector Hartmut Ibing
- Equipped with factory air conditioning and power windows
- Major service, including timing belts and new tires, by Motion Products in 2018
- Includes original owner’s manuals, tool kit, jack, and spare key
The first Ferrari to carry the GTO moniker since the legendary 250 GTO of the 1950s, the 288 GTO was introduced in 1984. A production run of some 200 cars was planned in order to homologate the platform for competition in the FIA’s now-legendary Group B. Ferrari was eager to take the fight to the Group B establishment, including Audi, Peugeot, and Lancia, in what was the most thrilling and dangerous form of motorsport in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the class was cancelled in 1987 and by that point, Ferrari had already fully developed and homologated the 288 GTO, yet it never had an opportunity to prove its mettle.
Despite the competition setback, Ferrari still sold the road-going 288 GTOs to its most loyal customers, and a total of 272 examples were built. With its new twin-turbocharged V-8 engine producing 400 bhp to power a car with a curb weight of just 1,160 kg, the 288 GTO was no slouch and could reach a top speed of 189 mph, all the while boasting such amenities as leather-trimmed seats, and optional air conditioning and electric windows.
Completed by Ferrari on 12 February 1985, chassis number 55223 was the 130th GTO built. Optioned with air conditioning and power windows, the car was sold directly to its first owner, well-known Ferrari collector Hartmut Ibing, where it shared garage space with a 250 GTO (3809 GT). Ibing personally picked up the car at the factory in Maranello on May 10. Registered in his native Germany, Ibing drove the GTO to the south of France.
However, it was not but just nine days later that while parked in a hotel garage in Cannes, Ibing’s 288 GTO was stolen. Quickly resold, it moved from France to Germany and then was shipped to Los Angeles and delivered to a car dealer in Phoenix, who purchased the car unaware that it had been unlawfully acquired. Fortunately, a pair of detectives hired by Ibing’s insurance company tracked the car down and brought it back Germany. He sent car back to Maranello to be checked over before continuing to enjoy it during his ownership. Noted as having been driven some 13,340 km by 1997, the 288 GTO would remain in Ibing’s ownership in Düsseldorf until 2001, during which time it was maintained by Auto Becker, Ferrari’s local dealership. It also spent time on display at a museum at the Nürburgring. Later that year, it was sold to Rollie Stephenson and shipped stateside to Sherwood, Wisconsin. Upon import, the GTO was handled by JK Technologies for federalization. Notably, the speedometer face was changed to MPH, though the odometer was left as-is and continues to read in the original kilometers.
In a recent conversation with RM Sotheby’s, Stephenson recalls putting but a few thousand miles on the car, as well as attending a handful of events with the Ferrari Club of America, though mostly as a spectator. He very much enjoyed driving the 288 GTO as its manufacturer intended. Unfortunately, just prior to selling the car to the current owner, the 288 was involved in a minor accident resulting in slight damage to the car’s front valance. Though Stephenson was not driving the car at the time, he lived near the Ferrari specialists Motion Products of Neenah, Wisconsin, and they dutifully repaired and repainted the original spoiler.
The car was owned by Stephenson until December 2010 when it was sold to the consignor, only its third owner. After his purchase, a timing belt service was completed and since then, the car has been continued to be maintained by Motion Products. Records on file show that the GTO received a major service with Motion Products in the winter of 2017-2018 with invoices totaling to over $36,000, which included replacing the timing belt, reinstalling the original fuel pumps and ECU, fitting a new battery, muffler, and tires. After the service was completed, the car was shipped to Florida where it was exhibited at the 2018 Cavallino Classic. Importantly, the 288 is accompanied by a set of owner’s manuals, two sets of keys, as well as a tool kit and jack, in addition to the aforementioned service invoices.
Well over 35 years since its initial introduction, the 288 GTO is still a thrilling car to drive in all respects, and proved to be a worthy successor to the 250 GTO. Much rarer than its own successors, the F40, F50, Enzo, and La Ferrari, the 288 GTO is a must-have for any Ferrari collector. This example will not disappoint.