2011 FERRARI 599 GTO
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.”
Blu Tour de France with Avus White strip and black Cordura fabric interior accented with blue stitching
661bhp hypercar, a ‘599 XX for the road’