Dressed in a dramatic Rosso Corsa, sporting a yellow and black prancing horse logo, fitted with a high-performance engine, preferably in the rear, there is something mystical and evocative about Ferrari. A painstaking, home-built replica of a car that Ferrari never raced as intended or no longer exists. Yes, the latter will never be offered as a true Ferrari to purists, but if it reaches this level, I think it deserves the name. In today’s episode of The Patrolhead Corner, we take a look at two specific cars that carry the Cavallino Rampante; A recreation of the Ferrari 156 Sharknose and wild Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione.
1961 Ferrari 156 F1 Sharknose
This isn’t the first time we’ve delved into this legendary car, having previously featured in an episode of The Patrolhead’s Corner and our coverage of the 2018 Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix. The car holds legendary status in Formula 1 history, as well as in Ferrari history. Unfortunately, most of the obsolete race cars were either completely scrapped or used for their aftermarket parts, leaving no original 156 Sharknose cars. Legend has it that Enzo Ferrari himself ordered the destruction of all cars after the 1962 season, but that has not been confirmed.
The Ferrari 156 Sharknose, a nickname derived from the dual-nose intakes at the front of the sleek, cigar-shaped body, is one of the most elegant Formula 1 racing cars ever made. It is also one of the most significant, being the first and only car piloted by an American to compete in the Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship. During the 1961 Formula 1 season, American Phil Hill battles his German teammate Wolfgang von Trips for the win after the race. Unfortunately, the 156 also had a dark page, as van Trips died in a major crash at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza that same year. Coincidentally, that race would decide the title as both drivers were still within striking distance of the championship.
As mentioned, none of the two original Ferrari 156 Sharknoses survive, but there are at least three replicas around. During the 2018 Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix, we saw a pair of these commissioned by avid collector Jason Wright. The cars were built by Stetford & Company, one with the original 65° V6 and the other with the later 120° wide angle V6. Another high-quality replica was built by Brand Hegedus, an American-based car enthusiast and cabinet maker. With no engineering or automotive training, Brandon Hegedus set out to build a replica of the famous Sharknose Ferrari.
He built a tubular frame from scratch, made a styrofoam buck to create a mold for the body panels, made the body out of carbon fiber, cut the panels to align them and started building the whole car. He then got new wire wheels, period-correct Dunlop tires and more, all to replicate the car as close to perfection as he could. He also experimented with baking plexiglass parts in his kitchen oven to recreate the glass bubbles on the engine’s air trumpets. The crown jewel, almost literally, is an original period-correct Ferrari badge that sits proudly on the nose, procured from someone in Calgary, Canada.
The biggest upset may be the engine lifted from the 2003 Suzuki Hayabusa. This in-line four-cylinder engine produces 175 horsepower, plenty for its lighter 156 counterpart. And sourcing a genuine Ferrari V6 to match the original cars would be an impossible leap both in terms of scarcity and money.
Car built by Brandon Hegedus is now for sale and listed Facebook Marketplace. Brandon is only asking USD 112,000. Considering the time and effort it took to create it, it seems like a reasonable deal to me! I bet the Stetford & Company-made replicas cost quite a bit more! Road & Track has Full article on this amazing craftAnd it can be seen being pushed hard in this YouTube video:
1987 Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione
The next car is a very real Ferrari, and an extremely rare example with only 6 built (5 production cars, 1 prototype). In fact, it’s even rarer to have one of these come up for auction than to have one of the 32 Ferrari 250 GTOs on the block. The car in question is the wild Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione, which was built as a full-fledged race/rally car, but was never intended to be.
Back in 1986, there was a little thing called Group B rally racing. This FIA-sanctioned off-road championship has hosted quite a few iconic cars and solidified many rally drivers into absolute bad-ass legends. Think Peugeot 205 T16, Lancia Delta S4, Rover-Metro 6R4 and the daddy of them all, the Audi Quattro S1. These were run by Walter Rohrl, Ari Vatanen, Stig Blomqvist and others. These fiery experimental vehicles ushered in an unprecedented era in rally racing, with cars producing more than 600 horsepower at Group B’s peak. And in this Group B World Rally Championship comes the 288 GTO and specifically the Evoluzione.
The Ferrari 288 GTO is built around a 2.8-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 400 horsepower from the 2.9-liter V8 in its predecessor, the 308 GTB. This gives the car a top speed of over 300kph and a zero to 100kph time of under 5 seconds. The 288 GTO was the second car to bear the famous Gran Turismo Omologato name after the aforementioned 250 GTO. The FIA rulebook allowed any manufacturer to build 200 homologation specials to allow them to compete, and Ferrari ended up building 272 of them.
Ferrari exploited a loophole in the rule book for the Group B rally. Of any production car with more than 200 examples specified by the FIA, only 20 Evolution cars must be built before that Evolution car is allowed to enter Group B. Ferrari went to work and gave birth to the 288 GTO Evoluzione. It has a radical Kevlar and carbon fiber body with large wings and lots of air intakes and outlets. If you look closely, especially from the side, you can already see the outline of the Ferrari F40.
In terms of power and performance, the engine is the same 2.8-liter twin-turbo V8 but fitted with much larger turbos. It boosts power to 650bhp, claiming a top speed of 370kph. Unfortunately, the timing was off for Ferrari and the cancellation of Group B by 1986 meant that neither the 288 GTO nor the 288 GTO Evoluzione entered. In the end, only five of the Evoluzione models were built, and none of them ever entered official competition.
One of these five ultra-special Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione will soon be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s. Chassis number 79888 will be sold during the Sotheby’s sealed auction on the weekend of October 19 to 21. Once owned by the likes of billionaire entrepreneur Laurence Strohl, now executive chairman of Aston Martin, you have the chance to get your hands on this rare piece of Ferrari history. There’s no estimate or reserve, but considering the fact that a “regular” Ferrari 288 GTO sold for just 4.4 million USD, you can bet it ain’t cheap!
Editorial Note: Images of the Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione courtesy of RM Sotheby’s. Ferrari 156 Sharknose Replica images are our own or taken from Road & Track magazine.