Haute Auto: Ferrari 288 GTO Evoluzione

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here’s unusual. There’s rare. And then there’s David SK Lee’s collection, which is chock full of the absolute mythical.  David is the kind of guy who knows what he likes and then doubles-down (or quintuples down, in this case) as his amazing scuderia di cavalli includes five of the rarest Ferraris around:  the 288 GTO, the F40, the F50 and Enzo (his LaFerrari hasn’t yet arrived so we’re not counting that) plus the subject of this article, the 1987 288 GTOEvoluzione, one of only five such cars every produced, one of two in the world with the factory-supplied über-oomph 650HP motor and one of the only such cars that has seen actual track time in recent years.

Those in-the-know folks are aware of the “regular” 288 GTO, a 450 HP monster of lightness and wow, which today are relegated mostly to musea and a couple of private collections.  David is one of the few people who often drives his other 288 GTO (who else can say that?) on the street – in fact, he takes all of the horses in his corral out to play, including several 1960s-vintage classics, such as a 250 Lusso, 275 GTB short nose 6C and a 330 GTS – but the “Evo” is too radical for road use as it is at a whole new level – 650 HP in a race-ready carbon-fiber wisp of a car that clocks in at under 2,100 pounds, abut the same as a Smart Fortwo with a supermodel at the wheel.  As the pounds-per-horsepower calculation is a great predictor of acceleration, this is close to the leader of the pack.  That’s why this car could hit 60MPH in about four seconds and top out at 225MPH.  Given that he’s well-known for streeting his rides, why not a few Evo sojourns on the road?  Aside from minimal ground clearance (a double-painted crosswalk could cause problems), the sound alone would bring polizia from surrounding zip codes.  This car even looks loud.


Ferrari says that these experimental cars were going to be 288 GTO competition versions, for Group B racing (they built fewer than 300 of the “regular” 288 GTOs), but for a variety of reasons they instead became the progenitors of the F-40.  It’s amazing how sophisticated the car is – while still retaining the more traditional steel-tube frame, it has a number of composite panels.  To look closely at this car is to study clever ways to make it weigh less.  I doubt that the doors weigh over three pounds each.  After the Evo was built, I’ll bet an engineer with a titanium-carbide drill bit made one final pass to see what else he could core out.   

As one of the most-successful retailers of fine watches and jewelry, David is surrounded by beauty every day.  His day job is running the successful Hing Wa Lee Jewelers (named after its founder, David’s deceased father), one of the largest retailers of timepieces, jewelry and accessories in the country.  But David’s passions don’t stop with cars and watches – not even close.  He has amassed a huge wine collection, (over 3,000 bottles and counting), has a terrific watch collection (no surprise there), he collects rare Ducati motorcycles as well as extraordinary guitars and is such a sushi connoisseur that he created his own restaurant – O otoro Sushi in Walnut – one of the most acclaimed sushi spots in Southern California.  Clearly, David is a man with expensive tastes – the Evo alone is worth north of $4 million.


As one can tell just by the excruciating attention to detail in presenting the Evo as a rolling work of highly-burnished art, David’s guiding principle seems to be “anything worth doing is worth doing really, really well”.  As a car guy, of course, I am most impressed by the Ferraris and, even more so, by the way that David drives one every day.  On behalf of the rest of the world, especially those of us who get to see him drive by, thank you for sharing the bounty.


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