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, because 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…
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. Enzo once said he married the V12 engine. Alfredo, however, was more interested in the six-cylinder engines used in the Formula 2 at the time: he built a few and even designed the (4-cylinder) 750 Monza.
When Alfredo was just 24-years-old he passed away due a muscular dystrophyin 1956. 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 his son’s nickname as the V6 engine designation. The 1957 Dino 156 F2 (4th picture above) was the first car produced with this new name. The Formula 2 car used a 65° V6 and helped Ferrari to get back to the top which resulted in a successful start of the Dino marque. Enzo was impressed and decided to use a V6 engine in the 1958 Formula 1 car.
Convincing Enzo to build a mid-engine road car
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 a mid-engine, road-legal concept car for the 1965 Paris Motor Show.
The Ferrari Dino Berlinetta Speciale was born and offered a perfect vision of the production Dino’s. The car (pictured below) is one of the most important Ferrari prototypes built and sold for a whopping €4.390.400 at an auction in February 2017.
At the 1966 Turin Motor Show, Ferrari showed another prototype: the Dino 206S. This prototype was also used as a race car and provided an even closer look into the final production versions.
Race and road departments mixed
V6 engines were primarily used and developed for racing cars and prototypes. 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 to meet because 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 and the Dino 166 F2 was allowed to enter the 1967 Formula 2 championship.
The Dino 206S Competizione Prototipo (1967) was the last prototype built before Enzo decided to put the road-legal mid-engine car 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 feel than the V6-engines, 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 and had a 2.4-L V6. There was a small power increase of 14 bhp, but more notable changes could be found in the design: the car measured a bit longer and the aluminium body was replaced by a steel body. Ferrari built three series, with minor changes, of the 246 GT. The targa-topped version, the 246 GTS, was revealed in 1971 and production began in 1972. 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 road-cars to receive the Dino badge were the 1973 308 GT4 and 1975 208 GT4. The six-cylinder made place for a 3.0-L V8. Due an increased value-added tax (VAT) because of the 3.0-L engine, Ferrari revealed a smaller version in 1975. The car was called the Dino 208 GT4 and was powered by a 2.0-L V8 which is still the smallest V8 engine ever used in a road-car.
Ferrari replaced the Dino badge with a Ferrari badge in May 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’’.