In the late 1960s the Dino lineage was created by Ferrari when the need arose to homologate a V6 engine for the new Formula 2 races series, but found major commercial success for the company outside of motor racing. The Ferrari Dino was first seen at the 1967 Turin Motor show as the 206 GT, which featured an all-aluminium 2 litre V6 engine with 4 cams that was mounted transversely behind the cockpit and driven through a 5 speed transaxle to the rear wheels. The elegant body was – like the engine- made from aluminium, and was blessed with gorgeous lines drawn by Pininfarina’s Leonardo Fioravanti; production of the coachwork assigned to Scaglietti.
Over the next two years, just 152 examples of the 206 GT were built before being succeeded by the Ferrari Dino 246 GT which launched at the 1969 Turin Motor Show. Although visually similar to its predecessor, the 246 GT included a number of alterations – most notably an engine capacity increased to 2,419cc in an iron block V6 engine and a body of steel rather than aluminium. A larger fuel tank was also installed, whilst the chassis was lengthened by 2.4 inches
The Ferrari Dino 246 GT was built to 3 different specifications throughout its production, which were referred to as the L, M and E series. The initial ‘L’ series cars were made from 1969 until 1970 and have a singe, centre, knock-off wheel nut, front quarter bumpers that merge into the grill and head rests mounted in the rear bulkhead. The ‘M’ series cars were built for only a short time in early 1971 and have 5 stud wheels, headrests mounted on the seats themselves and an internal boot release lever. The final ‘E’ series cars were similar to the ‘M’ cars, but with a modified engine and gearbox. In 1972 a Targa-topped model was released in the form of the GTS.
Despite the smaller engine capacity of the Dino compared to other Ferraris of the time these little gems are no slouch. The 2.4 litre engine produces 195 bhp at 7,600rpm and – with a curb weight of 2,426 pounds – are arguably one of Ferrari’s most agile cars. This agility is helped by near-perfect weight distribution offering a combination of performance and handling that has awed owners since new.
We recently had the opportunity to road test a 1972 ‘E’ series Ferrari Dino 246 GT that was fully restored by the Ferrari factory for the Jean Todt family. Originally sold in Bologna, Italy the car was finished in Verde Pino before being later changed to Rosso with a Pella Nera interior. The car has only covered a couple of hundred miles since its restoration and is currently for sale at Cotswold Collector Cars at The Classic Motor Hub. Having had such a recent restoration, this late-model Dino appears to be in fantastic condition both inside and out – and was a real treat to take to the Cotswold roads surrounding The Hub.
When you first get into a Dino, one of the first things that strikes you is how relatively compact it feels. With the mid-mounted V6 positioned almost directly behind your head, the bonnet and cabin feel considerably more immediate than you’ll find in many of the later V12 Ferraris, which means that the Dino is actually an incredibly usable car about town.
We took this ‘Classiche Ferrari’ certified Dino into Cheltenham to get some pictures and whilst we navigated around the numerous potholes around town, it caused quite a stir. If you’re looking for a car to be seen in that’ll get both appreciative nods from fellow petrol-heads and a reassured thumbs-up from those who simply appreciate its style, this car doesn’t disappoint.
The Ferrari Dino’s shape was evolved in the wind-tunnel at the Turin Polytechnic Institute, which explains lack of wind noise, the very few dead flies on the nose, and the remarkable way the car maintains high speed – even if you lift off and stick it into neutral. Putting the Dino through its paces, it struck me how incredibly precise the 5 gears felt – especially for a 44-year-old gearbox design. The gated gear stick allows you to rapidly shift up through the box and make the V6 sing without any rummaging or uncertainty along the way. The 2.4-litre engine pulls cleanly from idle throughout the rev range, so you tend to keep the engine revving for the sheer pleasure of using the gearbox and listening to the dynamic V6 music behind you.
The low-slung driving position feels almost perfect if you’re small enough to fit into them comfortably, as the seats themselves are fairly small. As there’s no ability to angle the seats forward or back, it was fortunate that I found them to be a perfectly snug fit, though the same won’t be said for all drivers! Unlike some mid-engined coupes, the Dino is actually relatively easy to get in and out of – the doors are wide and the opening unobstructed.
Visibility is truly superb, as the clever wrap-around rear window and low engine cover gives a fully unobstructed view. At no time during our road test was there any embarrassment with rearward vision, though the same can’t quite be said for the layout of the instruments, as they were no doubt positioned by a stylist – not an engineer. It’s quite difficult to see the speedometer, and with a revvy V6 underneath you, the tachometer should really be front and centre. Fortunately, the three-spoke dished steering wheel is tucked away out of the line of vision. Considering that the engine is just behind your head the noise is relatively low and you can converse with a passenger quite normally with all the windows open.
Positioning the Ferrari Dino exactly where you want it on the road is surprisingly easy and rather flatters one’s driving ability. The balance of this mid-engined machine feels just right with superbly light and responsive steering, limpet-like handling and no discernible roll whatsoever. Both the stopping power and rack-and-pinion steering require just the right amount of force without needing servo-assistance. Cornering comes flat and in general, the Dino has the precise handling qualities you would expect from a Ferrari.
Dino ‘03906’ is currently for sale at Cotswold Collector Cars at The Classic Motor Hub, and is in superb mechanical condition throughout. Driving such a machine would be a dream for any classic motorist, and should be amongst the finest in any respectable collection.