The Book of the Ferrari 288 GTO

Ferrari288GTOby Joe Sackey

Virtually every part on this model is unique to it so it’s kind of ironic that it looks so much like another—and by Ferrari standards almost “mass produced”—one, the 308/328 that preceded it. Those cars looked plenty good and were proper Ferraris in every way (even if, in the opinion of some purists, they had four cylinders too few) but performance was failing to meet customers’ expectations.

Enzo Ferrari himself attached so much importance to the new model, the last one on which he would have direct influence, that he assigned it the exclusive GTO label that had been gathering dust since the original GTO of 1962–64 before it was even on the drawing board. Conceived from the outset as a competition car, the 288 did turn out to be a worthy standard-bearer of the GTO name—even if the category in which Ferrari had intended to compete was shut down in the wake of several serious accidents before a single 288 had a chance to go racing. All 272 customer cars built thus ended up with civilian careers.

That is an interesting and important story, and that is where the book opens. If you recognize the author’s name as that of the man behind this same publisher’s Miura book—the self-styled but deservedly so “Bible”—you’ll need to recalibrate your expectations for this 288 GTO book. It has different goals and employs different tools.

Compare the number of pages (272) to the number of illustrations (about 325), then factor in that about 3/5ths of the book reproduce factory documents and multi-page visuals of the 2009 GTO Reunion, and you can see that the actual writing of original material is confined to relatively few pages. But since the 288 is way up there on the food chain of collectible Ferraris, much ink has been spilled on it already anyway. What none of the other writers have done, and what will delight all those who bleed not just red but Ferrari Red, is that Sackey has reproduced, for instance, on some 13 pages the actual homologation papers (better brush up on your Italian!). You’d be hard-pressed to find those, or the production specs Ferrari submitted to the government, anywhere on your own. What you could find are, say, the owner’s manual (even reducing it to fit two of its pages on one book page this consumes 54 pages!) or even the several pages of magazine covers, but Sackey includes such material here simply to round out the picture and put everything all conveniently at the reader’s fingertips.

On a more practical note, pages and pages of exploded parts are . . . “interesting” but even the hardcore Ferrari enthusiast will probably have no real practical application for such minutia—unless it’s living vicariously. To that end you can even feast your eyes on photos of toolkits, custom luggage, and factory brochures. One does not see these cars often in the wild, so this is not entirely irrational. For instance, the aforementioned 25th Anniversary Reunion of the 288 in America that Sackey organized in 2009 brought all of 15 cars together and was still a record. Much more relatable are driving impressions and owners’ experiences but there are only six offered. If you need to see series of photos of 288s dodging cones on a slalom course, you’ll find them here.

GTO specialists will zero in on the lists of chassis numbers (with serial number, if known; also ownership details but Sackey is the first to say that much more work needs to be done here. Audience participation required!).

That Sackey is among the top specialists on this and a number of other exalted supercars is undeniable. He has torn them apart and rebuilt them, owned them, lived with them, researched them. He can also find you one if you can write a large enough check. The Foreword is by Nicola Materazzi, the engineer behind the 288 who speaks of “his” car in very proprietary terms!

Numerologists may wonder if the number of book pages has anything to do with the number of cars built??

So, don’t think of this as 288 GTO bible but a resource book and certainly as a tribute to a truly important and delectable automobile.


Copyright 2013, Sabu Advani (

The Book of the Ferrari 288 GTO
by Joe Sackey
Veloce Publishing, 2013
272 pages, 325 b/w & color illustrations, hardcover
List Price: $79.95/£50
ISBN-13: 978-1845842734

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