It smells of oil, as is common with classic cars. And for fuel. A few deep breaths and your thoughts wander. In the time of the daring gentlemen drivers. After Le Mans 1962. How they aim for the next bend over the hilly landscape of the fenders. How they conquer the bumping and jumping rigid axle and parry the erupting stern. With a car that celebrates its 50th birthday this year and is worth over 20 million euros today: the F errari 250 GTO.
A friend's father would have it in the late seventies with engine failure for 25,000 marks. But he didn't want to. If his flexibility would allow it, he would have bitten his - you know - every day since the nineties. Because since then the high price phase has continued. Current example: The GTO model, once made for Stirling Moss, changed hands a few weeks ago for 35 million dollars.
Ferrari 250 GTO is a thoroughbred racing car
According to Carozzeria Scaglietti, the former body shop and now Ferrari's press shop, only 38 were made. They were designed to turn off the road straight onto the race track, so they started in the GT class. This is where the name comes from, with the addition O standing for omologato, i.e. FIA homologated. Actually, 100 copies have to be built for this; but Ferrari declares the GTO as a modification of the standard 250 GT.
A brilliant euphemism. Anyone who has ever seen the 300 hp oldie in action will hear with their own ears that it is a thoroughbred racing car. No noise insulation filters the expressions of life of the three-liter twelve-cylinder, takes the roar of the low revs or the screeching from the high. Anyone who drives to the race on the move has to be tough.
After 1964, the front-engined technology was obsolete, and the two-seater is simply a worn-out bolide. Racing knows no mercy for rare beauties - until they are later highly speculated as icons by collectors. As early as 1984, when the successor was introduced, a bargain was out of the question: The 250 GTO is a millionaire contender.
FerrariGTO never reaches the racetrack
The new one is again based on a tubular lattice frame, but instead of aluminum, fiberglass, Kevlar and Nomex are now stretched over it. And it adopts the layout of competition vehicles from the eighties: its V8 sits in front of the rear axle, promoting agility. The model is simply called GTO and, as is often written, does not have the addition 288 for 2.8 liter displacement and eight cylinders. A layman might mistake it for the much cheaper 308 GTB, but the connoisseur will immediately reveal it by the bloated fenders and the longer wheelbase. The latter enables the designers to install the 400-hp biturbo lengthways instead of crossways.
Open the rear hood. The two intercoolers, which dominate everything, show that an engine is pumped up to maximum performance with steroids. The engine crouches deep below, behind it the gearbox is exposed; it gives the GTO its martial rear view. It sounds hoarse, but without squealing. Aggressive in a positive sense, slightly metallic, high-frequency and representative of what is called the typical Ferrari sound of the eighties today.
Open the driver's door. You don't feel like you are in a racing car, more like in a Super GT. The leather seats with a hole design à la Daytona are surprisingly soft, the dashboard is covered with velvety fabric. This is complemented by the suspension, which is comparatively decent compared to the 250, and insulation, which is suitable for long journeys.
The GTO is planned for homologation in the so-called Group B of racing. Although Ferrari is even developing a version of it, it never competes in an FIA race - and neither does the GTO itself, because the Group B regulations have not proven themselves and are being shelved. So instead of the 200 planned evolution models, only one is created, while 272 of the roadworthy variant leave the factory.
From the GTO Evo becomes the F40
At least the F40 will emerge from the Evoluzione. It no longer bears the sonorous name, but continues the idea of the super sports car. This is followed by the F50 and the Enzo Ferrari, none of which are derived from a production model but are completely new developments. The fans will have to wait until 2010 for the next GTO: It is the extreme version of the 599 GTB Fiorano, an infernally roaring super sports car with 670 hp - and like the 250 GTO, it carries its V12 under the bonnet.
The twelve-cylinder comes from the Enzo six liters in size and sits completely behind the front axle, which gives the 599 GTO almost the driving behavior of a mid-engined sports car. It has become gigantic, makes its two predecessors look small and thin - and hasambitious ergonomics for the first time. In the 250, the steering wheel is still huge, and the 80s model is almost as flat as a van.
The 599 GTO, however, is a real one despite its size and considerable weight of 1.6 tons with a full tank Driving machine and the fastest street-legal Ferrari to date on the test track in Fiorano. The 599 pieces will soon be sold out - just like in the best of times of speculation. But unlike its predecessor, there has been no increase in value so far; Collectors complain about the high production numbers.
And there is no racing history. Because the GTO no longer stands for the idea of the omologato, i.e. the homologation model for racing. The era of gentlemen drivers and their racing cars is finally over. Rich privateers duel in branded series such as the Ferrari Challenge, but here in the 458 Italia, the mid-engine two-seater. It is also used in the traditional 24 Hours of Le Mans. Why isn't there a 458 GTO?