Classic Ferrari 288 GTO worth £1.7 million and formerly owned by F1 driver Eddie Irvine stolen on test drive

Classic Ferrari 288 GTO worth £1.7 million and formerly owned by F1 driver Eddie Irvine stolen on test drive
Classic Ferrari 288 GTO worth £1.7 million and formerly owned by F1 driver Eddie Irvine stolen on test drive

An opportunistic classic car buff made off with a vintage Ferrari, once owned by Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine, after taking it for a spin on a test drive.

According to police in Dusseldorf, the thief expressed an interest in buying the 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO, worth €2m (£1.7m), before turning up at the car dealership in a taxi.

Two hours later, he went out on a test drive. When it was time to swap drivers so that he could get behind the wheel, he waited for the seller to step out of the car before hitting the accelerator and driving away.

The car was later found in the garage but police are still searching for the man in question.

According to the listing on the dealer’s website, the car once belonged to former Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine, who raced for Ferrari between 1996 and 1999.

‘Too flashy’

Investigators didn’t have too much trouble tracking the unique item down, and it was quickly found following a police appeal for witnesses in an off-the-beaten-track garage in the nearby town of Grevenbroich.

Police have since released a photograph of the suspect, taken as he was inspecting the vehicle ahead of its theft.

A picture of the suspect released by police in Dusseldorf (Photo: Polizei Dusselforf)

Speaking to Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, the dealership’s managing director Bernhard Kerklo said the car would never be able to be resold on the market as it was “too flashy” and insiders would know it was stolen.

He’d exchanged calls and emails with the suspect over a number of weeks before he made the getaway.

Classic misfire

Vehicles like it are often sold through specialist auctions at Sotheby’s, where they are frequently listed for prices around the £2million mark.

The Ferrari GTO was originally built between 1984 and 1987 to compete in a new Group B Circuit Race series. It was designated GT for Gran Turismo and O for Omologata (homologated in Italian). Homologation is the approval process through which the vehicle, standardised part of race track must go in order to meet the rules of a league or series.

Only 272 Ferrari 288 GTOs were ever made (Photo: Wikimedia)

In this instance, because of the rules, not many teams took part in the new Group B Circuit series and as a result, the GTO never raced. Only 272 cars were ever built, and they remained purely used for the road. All of the cars came in a stock Italian red colour, bar one, which was painted black.