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Ferrari 599 GTO | Showpiece of the Week

For the collection that's missing an Omologato, this 599 has fewer than 400 miles - set aside Β£700k...

By Matt Bird / Monday, December 09, 2019

A decade can seem like long time in fast cars; then again, sometimes it can't. Take the Ferrari 599 GTO as an example. Revealed at the Geneva motor show in 2010, it was a large, front-engined, V12 Ferrari, a limited run supercar derived from a series production model and with an explicit focus on track driving that sold out very quickly. And while the formula has changed a little since then, the fact that the GTO was indirectly replaced by the f12 TdF, and that the 812 builds upon the lessons learnt from that, suggests Ferrari is going to make the most of this concept while it can.

And why wouldn't it? While the circuit-ready V8s - Pistas, Speciales and Scuderias - tend to be remarkably approachable Ferraris given their ability, there's always been an intimidation factor about the big V12s. They've never been cars to trifle with, and they have always demanded the utmost respect. What that means, however, is a completely unforgettable driving experience, with the sort of razor-sharp responses and towering performance that precious few others can match. You need to be on your game, but the efforts for those most special of front-engined Ferraris have always been worth it.

That certainly held true for the GTO. While some harangued Ferrari for using the 'Omologato' tag on a road car - previously only reserved for the 250 and 288 racers - this was most definitely not a cynical marketing ploy. A reworked engine liberated another 50hp for the 599 cars, but the big news was in the chassis; the aim for the GTO was for as little understeer as possible - "dynamically it's been designed a bit like a fighter aircraft", said Marc Gene, and that meant a thorough overhaul. Of course it was a stiffer, lower 599, but also one that swapped the standard 245-section GTB front tyres for enormous 285-section items. Back then the Michelin Pilot Super Sport it came with was a brand new tyre, and given how long it saw service for - Ford having kept it for the current Fiesta ST, because it was better than the replacement - that should indicate how good it is. The ceramic brakes came with a ceramic pad, the driving assists were recalibrated, 100kg was taken from the kerbweight... The GTO was transformed.

That transformation was borne out on the track, contemporary reports understandably noting the incredibly immediate front end - a trait that has continued into today's Ferraris - the monumental performance and its propensity for oversteer. The assists did a great job of containing it, mostly, but the eagerness of the front end and the enormous power did mean a somewhat predictable conclusion if there was too much of one or the other. Or both...

That, though, is what makes cars like the GTO so memorable. Of course, there's the limited edition, V12 Ferrari status, but also the knowledge that they can't be driven fast easily - to get the most from them, they need precision driving. As that becomes a rarer and rarer commodity in quick cars, don't be surprised to find it more and more coveted by collectors.

Especially when it's presented in as fine as form as this. This all-black GTO - just in case it wasn't intimidating enough - looks absolutely pristine, as might be expected from a car that's covered just 389 miles. Yes, it's one that's been in a collection, though given it's now for sale at £700k - from a new price of £299,280 - it's easy to understand why an owner just kept it. And maybe they were a bit scared.

Still, opportunity is here now for another owner to experience just what the fuss really is about around the hallowed GTO, or indeed consolidate their collection with another icon. The biggest problem? Deciding whether the garage needs this first, or an F12 TdF at the same money...

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