Even If You Can Afford It, the Ferrari 288 GTO is Hard to Get

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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?'”

6speedonline.com Jay Leno's Garage 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO

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.”

6speedonline.com Jay Leno's Garage 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO

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.

6speedonline.com Jay Leno's Garage 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO

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.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his JK Forum profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK Forum, H-D Forums, The Mustang Source, Mustang Forums, LS1Tech, HondaTech, Jaguar Forums, YotaTech, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts. Derek also started There Will Be Cars on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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