In honor of the new 488 Pista, we figured it was appropriate to look back at its ancestors.
Ferrari has just unveiled its 710-hp 488 Pista and it’s glorious. There’s no question it will be one of the stars at Geneva next month. But let’s not forget any of its deliciously hardcore predecessors. Each of these six mid-engine V8 Ferraris exemplified the very best of the standard version but took performance and technology to the next level. Some have become highly sought after, while others remain somewhat under the radar. All share that prancing horse badge and eight-cylinders of righteous Italian produced horsepower.
The legendary 288 GTO is the homologation of the 308 GTB, and as we all know, it takes a very special Ferrari to earn that coveted GTO moniker. How did the 288 earn it? Well, its longitudinally mounted, de-bored 2.9-liter V8 utilized twin turbochargers, intercoolers, and Weber-Marelli fuel injection. Total output was 400 hp and 366 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 mph happened in the upper four second range. Top speed was clocked at 189 mph. Ferrari originally built the 288 GTO to compete in the then new Group B Race series. Porsche also entered the series with its 959, but the series was soon abandoned. The 288 GTO never raced. Only 272 examples were built, and you'll pay at least $2 million for one today.
The 348 GT Competizione is pretty special, in case you’re not familiar with it. Only 50 examples were produced beginning in 1993, the year before the 348’s successor, the F355 launched. The 348 GT Competizione was built to meet GT Championship racing homologation requirements, meaning its very lightweight (nearly 420 pounds less than the standard 348) and a bit more powerful. Its 3.4-liter V8 is rated at about 320 hp. That weight reduction was achieved thanks to carbon Kevlar bumpers, doors and even F40 carbon Kevlar bucket seats. Even a different exhaust system was specifically made for it. Creature comforts like air conditioning and even the floor mats were removed as well.
The F355 Challenge was specifically created for the Ferrari Challenge, the automaker’s very own championship. Ferrari started with the standard F355 Berlinetta and modified it with a roll cage, racing seats, lightweight exhaust, competition steering wheel and clutch, rear wing, 14-inch Brembo brakes straight from the F40, 18-inch magnesium wheels wearing Pirelli racing rubber, and additional cooling ducts. What’s interesting is that all of these modifications were part of a $30,000 kit Ferrari supplied to its dealers in 1995. All told, 108 examples were produced, all of which were powered by a 3.5-liter V8 with 375 hp and paired to a gated six-speed manual.
The standard Ferrari 360 Modena may have been somewhat underwhelming, but the 360 Challenge Stradale made up for that. Like before, the 360 Challenge Stradale was all about shaving weight and improving performance. It also featured the Fiorano Handling Pack, normally reserved for Ferrari’s V12 models. Even its ceramic brakes came directly from the Enzo. Eliminating the radio and Plexiglas door windows were also optional. All told, Ferrari managed to reduce weight by 243 pounds. Power is provided by a 3.6-liter V8 which was upgraded to produce 420 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, up from 395 hp. The standard 360 Modena managed a 0-62 time of 4.9 seconds, but thanks to said weight loss, this time was reduced to 4.1 seconds.
None other than F1 legend Michael Schumacher unveiled the Ferrari 430 Scuderia in 2007. It was built not only as a successor to the 360 Challenge Stradale, but also a competitor to the Porsche RS 911s and the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera. Lighter by 220 pounds and more powerful with 503 hp (up from F430’s 483 hp), the 430 Scuderia also came equipped with Ferrari’s F1 gearbox instead of a six-speed manual. Although this gearbox was used on the 360 Challenge Stradale, Ferrari by this time had given it a number of improvements. This gearbox worked even better partly due to it being combined with the 599 GTB’s traction control system, as well as stability control with the E-Diff electronic differential.
The 458 Speciale needs little to no introduction. It was an immediate legend when it was unveiled in 2013, securing its place in the brand’s history as possible the greatest naturally aspirated mid-engined Ferrari V8 of all time. Compared to the standard 458, its appearance clearly indicated something was up, and that something was a revised 4.5-liter V8, now rated at 597 hp and 398 lb-ft, along with active aerodynamics. This all added up to faster sprint and lap times, with Ferrari declaring the 458 Speciale to be only 0.5 seconds slower than the V12-powered F12berlinetta at its own Fiorano test track. Zero to 60 mph happens in less than 3 seconds and a 202 mph top speed is possible. Production was limited to only 499 examples.