It was at the 1984 Geneva auto show where Ferrari first unveiled the 288 GTO, meaning the car Ferrari calls its first supercar is now four decades old.

The 288 GTO was born back when those three famous letters still held some motorsports credibility at the automaker. The O stands for Omologato, the Italian word for “homologation,” as the 288 GTO was a homologation special for a race car designed for Group B competition.

It also meant that the car was the spiritual successor to another GTO, the legendary 250 GTO from two decades earlier. The triple side vents and ducktail rear spoiler from the earlier icon were even repeated.

When the 288 GTO was conceived in the early '80s, time constraints and commercial considerations caused Ferrari to use the lesser 308 GTB as the basic starting point. A new body styled by Pininfarina added a more muscular look while reducing weight thanks to a combination of carbon-fiber and Kevlar-reinforced fiberglass panels. It was the first time the latter was used on a road car. Ferrari quoted a dry weight of 2,557 pounds for the 288 GTO.

Ferrari 288 GTO

Ferrari 288 GTO

The engine was a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-8 that delivered 394 hp. It was mounted longitudinally behind the rear seats and powered the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission. That transmission was similar to the one used in Ferrari’s Formula 1 car at the time, as were the 288 GTO's brake and suspension components.

Performance estimates included a 0-62 mph time of 4.9 seconds, a quarter-mile time of around 12.7 seconds, and a top speed of 189 mph.

Group B was disbanded before any 288 GTOs could race, but Ferrari still got around to building 272 examples of the car. That's actually 72 more than what Ferrari originally needed under the homologation rules.

To help celebrate the 288 GTO's 40th anniversary, Ferrari will host the GTO Legacy Tour this fall. Similar to the tour held last year to celebrate the F40, this year's tour will meander through the Italian Dolomites before ending up in Maranello for a parade around Ferrari's Fiorano test track.