Just a year after René Bonnet introduced the first mid-engine production car in 1964, the Matra Djet, Ferrari started experimenting with this layout. The Dino Berlinetta Speciale was the result which turned out to be a successful and clever move, forming a key part of Ferrari’s history.
Back in the 1960s every manufacture of high-performance cars placed their engines up front. The mid-engine concept was only used in motor sport. Transferring this layout from the track to the road was quite a risky move. Front-engine cars offer designers a bit more room to decide how the rest of the car is going to look. Mid-engine cars always tend to have similarities in terms of design. After the all, the engine plays a huge part in this layout. Then there’s the technical part: more weight on the rear wheels means a different kind of handling.
Enzo Ferrari was happy with his front-engine cars, until he realized a new step in automotive evolution was about to unfold. He stepped to Pininfarina and allowed them to design the mid-engine car he had in his mind. This would eventually become the last Ferrari with input from Pininfarina’s founder Battista Farina. Sergio Pininfarina, Battista’s son, helped with designing and building the mid-engine concept car.
This prototype was the Dino Berlinetta Speciale and it took the company fewer than six months to complete. The chassis of a Dino 206 P was used, but the body couldn’t be more different. Pininfarina gave the prototype a sleek and balanced design which would eventually transfer to the road cars. Many elements became part of the signature style of this range: the side air vent, rear windscreen, the front wheel arches and rear engine deck. The only things that changed were the front lights and rear design.
The exterior Bordeaux red also appears inside the car. We have an elegant dashboard with just the necessary clocks, a name plaque in front of the passenger and a tiny gear stick. The seats – finished in cream leather - seem extremely comfortable. As it was based on a competition car the steering wheel sits on the right.
They introduced the car at the 1965 Paris Motor Show wearing a Dino badge, and the response of the public couldn’t be more positive. Ferrari went on, built a few more prototypes in the following years and introduced the first road-going Dino in 1968. After decades of evolution and development the automaker still offers a mid-engine car in their current range.
Ferrari and Pininfarina donated the car to the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) in memory of Battista’s passing in 1966. It was the club’s most precious possession and they vowed to never publicly sell it. That was until the club’s museum needed funds to keep their spirit alive. Rétromobile Paris offered the car during their 2017 auction and the car sold for around €4.4 million.
Like to know more about the Dino marque? Continue reading here.
Written by Max Lammers.