Even If You Can Afford It, the Ferrari 288 GTO is Hard to Get
Ferrari collector David Lee stops by ‘Jay Leno’s Garage’ to share his knowledge of the rare 288 GTO and let the car-loving comic drive it.
Money may not be able to buy you true happiness, but it sure can get you a lot of things that put a smile on your face. If you have enough of it, you can get a huge house with heated floors, a built-in theater, and, of course, a spacious garage. You can fill that garage with several powerful exotic machines. But when it comes to cars like the Ferrari 288 GTO, getting one requires more than a healthy bank account. It takes patience.
Ferrari collector David Lee recently stopped by “Jay Leno’s Garage” to showcase his car and let Jay take a closer look at it. Lee has a long history with the brand; his first Ferrari was a 355. He followed that with the 360 and 430. After a while, he decided he wanted to stop losing money on his prancing horse purchases and started going after the models that would keep their values. That meant getting Ferrari’s pinnacle cars, such as the F40 and 288 GTO. Lee tells Leno, “My first one was the Enzo. Yeah. And then I decided, I said, ‘Hey, why don’t I collect the rest of the supercars?'”
Doing that wasn’t just a matter of throwing money at a problem, though. Ferrari only made 272 288 GTOs and the older they get, the harder they are to come by, especially in the U.S. Lee says the 288 GTO was the most difficult Ferrari flagship to get his hands on. He eventually found one – in Italy. Once the representative he sent overseas to inspect it told him it checked out, Lee pulled the trigger on it. According to Lee, “When the car was getting loaded, he [the seller] was crying. He really missed the car.”
These days, 288 GTOs go for millions of dollars, but Lee doesn’t keep his constantly sealed in a garage. He drives it, although he has cut back on the amount of miles he drives. He only has about 6,200 miles (10,000 km) on it. Many other 288 GTOs also have low miles on them, partly because the typical major service on one costs $8,000-$10,000 and requires dropping the twin-turbo 2.8-liter V8 out of the car.
Lee is kind enough to let Leno drive his 288 GTO, too. As an owner of vehicles from bygone eras when performance cars had three pedals and no touchscreens, Leno enjoys it. The clutch pedal is stiff. “The steering is very direct, right? There’s no assist to it.” Despite having a 34-year-old turbocharged engine, the 288 GTO delivers its 400 horsepower smoothly…and loudly.
Overall, Leno finds the 288 GTO to be less raw and visceral than another one of Lee’s Ferraris: the F40. What it lacks in feel, it more than makes up for with rarity. Ferrari produced 1,311 F40s – nearly five times the amount of 288 GTOs it made.