Might come as a surprise, but the first mid-engine production Ferrari wasn’t powered by an 8-cylinder, that didn’t happened until 1973. Between 1968 and 1973, Ferrari produced V6 cars under the Dino marque and the reason why Enzo decided to put another logo on them is quite an interesting one.
Photography: Alexis Boquet, Scott McKellin,
But first, a bit of history
Alfredo Ferrari was the first son of Enzo Ferrari. He was quickly nicknamed Dino, mainly for his energetic, ambitious and proud character. Alfredo was more interested in the six-cylinder engines that were used in the Formula 2 at the time: he built a few and even worked on the 750 Monza.
Alfredo passed away in 1956, just 24-years-old, due a muscular dystrophy. Enzo and Alfredo’s mom, Laura Dominica Garello, were both devastated with the loss of their son, it took some time to get their lives back on track.
Just a year after the passing of Alfredo, Enzo decided to honour his son in a very special way: Ferrari used the Dino nickname as the V6 engine designation. The Dino 156 F2 was the first car to be built under this new marque. The Formula 2 car used a 65° V6 and helped Ferrari getting back to the top which resulted in a successful start of the Dino marque. So successful that Ferrari decided to use a V6 in the 1958 Formula 1 car.
Race and road departments mixed
Years flew by and more V6 engines were used and developed, primarily for racing. In 1967 Enzo wanted to race in the new Formula 2 championship with a V6 engine. The homologation rules stated that 500 production cars should be equipped with a derived engine of the race engine. Sadly, that number was impossible for Ferrari to meet: their annual production at the time was around 750 units.
Fiat and Ferrari were collaborating on many fronts and one of them was engines. Enzo asked Fiat to help producing the engines. Fiat then used those 2.0-liter V6’s in the Fiat Dino, which was a front engine / rear wheel drive car. The Dino 166 F2 was allowed into the 1967 Formula 2 championship.
Convincing Enzo Ferrari
Mid-engine road cars were quite uncommon at the time, but more manufactures showed their interests in this different layout. Designer Sergio Pininfarina managed to convince Enzo that a mid-engine car would be a great addition to the cars Ferrari already offered. After some time and negotiating, Pininfarina was allowed to create the mid-engine, road-legal concept car (Ferrari Dino Berlinetta Speciale) for the 1965 Paris Motor Show.
Ferrari showed another concept the following year: the Dino 206S at the 1966 Turin Motor Show offered a closer look into the final production version. The response of show visitors was rather enthusiastic which made Enzo decide to put it into production, with just one demand…
Why the Dino marque was created
Ferrari was well known for its V12 engines. Those engines were placed in rather expensive cars and had a very different DNA, as you could imagine. Cars with half the cylinders shouldn’t be sold under the same brand name, Enzo stated, so the car brand Dino was established in 1968. Its goal was to offer an affordable sports car that could compete with the Porsche 911 (1963).
The first production Dino was released in 1968: it was called the 206 GT and 152 units were produced. Behind the passengers a 178 bhp 2.0-L 65° V6, similar to the one used in the Fiat Dino, was placed. Its successor, the 246 GT, was revealed in 1969. There was a small power increase of 14 bhp, but more notable changes could find in the design: a bit longer and no use of aluminium because steel was used to build the body. The targa-topped version, the GTS, was revealed in 1971.
Production of the 246 GT/GTS ceased in 1974: 2295 GT’s and 1274 GTS’s left the Maranello-based factory.
Still a Ferrari
The last car to receive the Dino badge was the 308 GT4 in 1973. The V6 made place for a 3.0-L V8 and the Dino badge was replaced by the Ferrari badge in 1976.
Throughout the Dino years, Ferrari always made sure Dino shared the same heritage as their ‘’own’’ cars. Two of the sales brochures even read: ‘’Tiny, brilliant, safe… almost a Ferrari’’ and ‘’the experience of a Ferrari in the smaller GT range’’.
Written by Max Lammers