“Immediately you’re aware that the car is set up right on the edge of what’s acceptable in something road-legal: with the tyres warm, I trailed the throttle a little mid-corner to see what the effect would be, and the car snapped straight into oversteer. This, by the way, is cause for celebration. You have to drive the GTO properly: stop, steer, gas…” – highly experienced road-tester Chris Harris tries the 599 GTO for Evo magazine in June 2010
The first ‘XX’ Ferrari was the Enzo-based FXX of 2005. The cars were sold to the company’s preferred customers for track days run by Ferrari Corse Clienti. For owners, it was the ultimate interaction with the legendary Scuderia, a chance to meet the team’s F1 drivers, engineers and technicians. For Ferrari, it was a way of learning how skilled, but non-professional drivers coped with massively powerful sports cars, all within the confines of a safe modern racing circuit.
A new ‘XX’ car was launched at the 2009 Geneva Show. Based on the front-engined 599 GTB, the 599 XX had at its heart an upgraded version of the road car’s 6.0-litre V12, one now producing 720bhp and 506lb-ft torque. Like the older FXX, no more than 30 were built.
But this time Maranello decided that the 599 XX package was so capable – at one time recording the fastest-ever lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife by a production-based sports car – that it could build, and there would be demand for, a road version. The result was launched in April 2010: the 599 GTO, the third-ever Ferrari to bear that immortal three-letter suffix.
Limited to no more than 599 examples, the new 599 was also the company’s quickest. A test driver lapped the Fiorano circuit in just 1min 42secs, one second faster than an Enzo. The engine was made more tractable for road use, but still turned out just over 660bhp. Enough for 0-62mph in under 3.3 seconds a top speed of 208mph (335km/h).
Every effort went towards saving weight and replicating the 599 FXX’s extraordinary capabilities on the track, yet making the new 599 GTO genuinely usable on the highway. An impressive 100kg was shaved off the road car by the extensive use of all-new components such as a hydroformed exhaust that was ‘blown’ rather than stamped and welded. Thinner glass saved 5.5kg. Despite being wider than before, the forged wheels (and titanium bolts) saved 22kg, while Sabelt carbonfibre racing seats trimmed another 17kg.
The engine received upgrades that included a higher compression ratio and new pistons. Internal friction was reduced by 12 per cent so the motor could scream to 8,250rpm, where it produced 661bhp, nearly 10 per cent more than a regular 599 GTB. The suspension was further refined to razor-sharp levels hitherto solely the province of racing cars, while the F1 automated transmission now completed shifts in only 60m/s – compared to 100m/s for the GTB. Gear ratios were shortened for ultimate performance, yet the GTO could still hit 208mph on the rev-limiter at 8,400rpm in sixth.
Like the 599 XX, the GTO was fitted with three accelerometers that relayed real-time data to second-generation active dampers. The 599 GTO was equipped with lighter Carbon Composite Material (CCM) brakes and ran on special Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.
The 599 GTO was – and remains today – at the very top tier of front-engined performance cars, one as capable on the race circuit as it is driving to and from it. Still reeling from the experience, Chris Harris summarises his first drive in a 599 GTO by saying, “You could go on about this machine for an entire issue… It’s a detail masterpiece, a track genius, a road tonic and yet another great Ferrari.
“Oh, and it fully deserves the badge.”
This Motor Car
This Ferrari 599 GTO was ordered directly from the factory and delivered on 7 September 2010. The first owner – from whose collection it comes today – is one of the world’s leading sportsmen and it’s unsurprising that he chose such an uncompromising, ‘best of the best’ sports car.
As delivered, the car’s list price of CHF 401,258 was increased to the tune of CHF 65,000+ by the addition of an extensive list of standard options and special features that included:
• Anti-stone-chipping treatment
• Giallo (yellow) instrument panel
• Door sill covers in carbonfibre
• Ferrari iPod connection plus Bose hi-fi
• Tunnel glove compartment
• Racing seats (medium)
• Special stitching in Giallo
• 4-point safety harness
• Coloured (black) 20in Challenge rims
• Privacy glass to rear
• Boot compartment in carbonfibre
• Alcantara headlining
• Two-tone paintwork (actually all-black, as standard cars had silver roofs)
• Road-legal roll-cage
• Black grilles, more external components in carbonfibre
The car has been used sparingly and the service book stamped:
• 10 December 2012 – 1,831km Scuderia Monte-Carlo Service, Monaco
• 8 October 2014 – 2,066km Monaco Motors G Cavallari, Monaco
• 16 June 2016 – 2,531km Scuderia Monte-Carlo Service, Monaco
Today, in totally ‘factory-fresh’ condition, ‘175386’ has covered just 2,622km. Fit for a champion new, like its current owner it remains at the pinnacle of its game, the ultimate road version of the 599, the last car to bear the iconic ‘GTO’ badge.