The limited-run Italian-stallions that remain dream drives
Ferrari’s limited-run supercars have, over the years, always represented the very best of what it can do at any one time. They are the cars that change the game for future generations. The most recent is the hybrid LaFerrari, but this amazing tech-fest has several successors.
Here, we’ve brought them together, for an amazing meet-up. Their lucky owners have come too. We could spend a day driving them, and how we’d love to. But these machines are priceless museum pieces. Why not instead let those who have paid a small fortune to own one tell us the story?
Ferrari 288 GTO
Karim Saeed has the oldest car here, the 288 GTO. The only made 272, meaning it’s a rare sight. Even if you spy one, you might at first think it’s the 308 GTB from which the 288 grew – changes include making it lower, adding wide wheelarches and a spoiler, and even lengthening the wheelbase. The body’s made from lightweight composite, not steel.
Saeed loves his car. “It’s only the second Ferrari to get this super GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato) badge.” It was the race-ready 1980s successor to the 250 GTO, one intended for Group B motorsport. Officials banned Group B before it was ready, so Ferrari made it a road-going special, one fitted with a 295bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre V8 engine.
Our owner says the drive is a ‘gentleman’s ride’. He admits he doesn’t drive it much, because it’s not very exciting by modern standards. It doesn’t have the edge you’d expect. But it’s still significant, not least because it gave Ferrari an idea about making low-volume, ultra-tuned hypercars. Something it would develop much further with its next model…
Just three years separate the F40 and 288 GTO, but you’d swear it were a lifetime. It’s a bona fide poster car, one that defined the 1980s. Despite this, beneath the angular lines, there’s a surprising amount in common with the GTO, including the wheelbase and a similar twin-turbo V8. But there, the similarities end.
Ferrari stripped out the F40’s cabin to make it feel just like a race car. it was brutal, but this became appeal in itself. That 288 GTO wasn’t bonkers enough for owner Nigel Chiltern-Hunt. “When the F40 came along, I knew straight away that it was a huge departure.
“When you get in, your heart starts beating a bit faster because you’ve got to respect it. Every time you drive it, you need to give it your full attention, which is how it should be with a Ferrari. When those turbos are lit, nothing can live with that power.” It’s an undeniable thriller, although our man does admit he’s cured one of the car’s few weaknesses, with an upgraded brake kit. Before also revealing he’s had the engine tuned up to make it even more exciting…
Chiltern-Hunt also owns the F50 we’ve gathered here. Ferrari’s thinking this time was not to push racing car boundaries with a road car, but to actually bring a track-ready racer to the highway. It was built around a composite monocoque, had a load-bearing engine – and the motor itself was converted from Ferrari’s early 1990s V12 F1 engine.
Surprisingly, despite this, Chiltern-Hunt says the F50 is more forgiving than the F40. The older car is raw whereas the F50 is more forgiving and easier to drive. But you really have to rev the engine hard to get the best from it. The F40 explodes once you hit 3500rpm: you have to actually drive the F50.
It’s a light, charming car to drive, with a brilliant gearbox. The on-road verdict is that you can pedal extremely fast indeed without it ever threatening to bite you for doing so. In compete contrast to the F40, says Chiltern-Hunt…
And so to the 2002 Ferrari Enzo, a formidable machine packing even more Formula 1 technology, including aerodynamics that sucked it to the ground at speed. That’s why you don’t have the massive rear spoiler of the F40 and F50: inside, you don’t have the manual gearstick either, for the Enzo introduced the paddle-shift gearbox.
Owner Christian Maneef calls it the ultimate Ferrari. He’s a fan of the F40, but always wanted something more modern: the carbon fibre Enzo, with its semi-auto gearbox, ABS brakes and the like, fitted the bill to a tee. It will let you pootle along amiably if you wish, but it really goes when you want it to, he says.
“When you’re sitting in it, you can feel a pivot point right underneath your bottom. It wants to turn all the time, but in a very controlled manner.” The breadth of its talents is enormous.
Every owner here relishes their super-Ferrari. Not for how fast they are – “that is kids’ stuff” – but for how special and alluring they are. Each is perfect in its own right, is the consensus. Each represents the best Ferrari could do at any one time. Each is a hugely desirable one-off, that we were so lucky to swoon over, just for one day.