At the time of the GTO in 1984, the Gestione Sportiva was directly involved in development with the then Technical Director, Angelo Bellei, whose approach was identical to today. Bellei utilised F1 research, both for the chassis, working with Harvey Postlethwaite, and the engine, with Nicola Materazzi. ‘We applied pure F1 technology to two components in this car,’ Postlethwaite said, ‘and some principles to lots of body components.’ The 400hp, 2.8-litre V8 GTO differs from the other supercars in that it was designed to go racing, and not specifically as a road car. However, although the Group B category for which it was intended was cancelled, the 200 road-going examples required for homologation proved so beautiful to behold, and incandescent to drive, that 272 were made, and the GTO was instantly hailed as one of Maranello’s greatest-ever road cars.
The GTO marked the first use of plastic composites by Ferrari and it was significantly lighter than the 308 GTB on which it was based, despite being longer and wider, a theme that continues in its successors. Pininfarina’s legendary designer Leonardo Fioravanti added three gills to the bodyside at exactly the same angle as those of the 1962 250 GTO; they simply moved to the rear, along with the engine. However, for Manzoni, tasked with designing the latest special, the GTO also looks forward, and shares more with the Enzo and the new Special Limited Series than, for instance, the F50, which came in between.
‘The main difference if we compare this to the later cars is the lack of aerodynamic flaps or spoilers,’ he says. ‘Everything is very well integrated into the form, which is also our current approach. Even in an extreme car like the Enzo, there are no longer the spoilers of the F40 or F50. But back then, of course, it was normal to show in the form that this was the extreme of the Ferrari range. You cannot be too calm.’
Manzoni says the GTO is his favourite among the specials. ‘The proportions are fantastic. Maybe by today’s standards the wheels seem too small, but the whole design has a global equilibrium.’