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The Ferrari Dino: History, Models, Differences

All things Ferrari Dino on Automobile.

Ferrari Dino Essential History

By the mid-1960s, the age of the mid-engine performance car was well and truly upon us. The pinnacle of motorsports, Formula 1, had universally switched to a mid-engine format and the age of dominant front-engine sports racing cars was coming to a close. Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari famously sold road cars to keep his racing operations financed, and although the marque had switched to mid-engine layouts in its racing machines, its road cars were still front-engine designs. Enzo was afraid that the type of people who bought his road cars didn't possess the ability to drive a mid-engine car safely.

Ferrari Dino: Why the V-6?

Still, Ferrari's competitors were quickly switching to mid-engine machines, the most popular yet being the Lamborghini Miura with its mid-mounted V-12. Designer Sergio Pininfarina presented Enzo with sketches he'd made of a small, swoopy, mid-engine sports car that he felt Enzo should build. As the story goes, Enzo relented and agreed to build the car, but only if it had a relatively small, less-powerful engine so his clients couldn't get into too much trouble.

To power this car, Enzo chose a V-6 engine design that his son Alfredo (Dino, for short) had helped develop for racing with lead engineer Vittorio Jano. The engine had been successful, handing Ferrari a Formula 1 championship in 1958 and later went on to use in sensuous, curvy-fendered sports racers under the "Dino" name-a tribute from Enzo to his late son, who had died in 1956 from effects of muscular dystrophy. This choice of engine for the Dino road cars was again a motorsports decision-Ferrari needed to mass produce a 2.0-liter engine for homologation in the Formula 2 series. Lacking the facility to build so many engines, Ferrari called on Fiat to cast and assemble the 2.0-liter V-6 in a partnership that saw Fiat able to produce its own run of front-engine Fiat Dino road cars.

Ferrari Dino 206 GT: Not a Real Ferrari?

Brochures for the Dino called the car "…small, quick, safe… almost a Ferrari." Despite Enzo blessing the Dino-engined F1 cars with the Ferrari badge, he chose to make Dino a sub-brand to Ferrari, allowing only V-12-equipped road cars to boast a prancing horse on their hoods. The Dino 206 GT was born for 1968, with a mid-mounted 2.0-liter, all-aluminum V-6 producing 180 horsepower and paired with a five-speed gated manual transmission. Seating was strictly for two people and small trunks up front and behind the engine allowed a weekend's worth of luggage. Dino 206 GTs were coupes only and had all alloy bodywork, knock-off Cromodora wheels and an exposed alloy fuel-filler cap. 206 stood for 2.0-liters, six-cylinders.

Ferrari Dino 246 GT, GTS, Targa

Just 152 Dino 206 GT models were built before Ferrari decided to up the engine's displacement to 2.4 liters, creating the 246 GT for the 1970 model year. While the five-speed manual transmission was retained, there were many changes including a switch to steel for most bodywork and the engine's bottom end (a nod to cost and production efficiency), a small lengthening of the wheelbase for more stable handling, and the introduction in 1972 of a GTS model with a removable Targa-style roof panel. Horsepower was increased to roughly 195 and torque was also improved with the enlarged engine capacity. Before production ended for the 1974 model year, some 2,295 GTs and 1,274 GTS models were built. That may not seem like many cars (just over 3,700 total, including the 206 GT models) but at this time, it was the most Ferrari had ever built of any model. Hand assembly of all Dinos was done by Ferrari in Modena on the same production lines as V-12 cars.

Ferrari Dino 308 GT/4

Ferrari began production of the Bertone-styled 308 GT/4 mid-engine 2+2 sports car in 1974 initially as a continuation of the Dino line, but this lasted only a couple years before dropping the Dino badging and incorporating these eight-cylinder mid-engine cars as Ferrari models, most likely an admission that the Ferrari badge sold more cars. The lineage started by the Dino line is continued today with Ferrari's mid-engine V-8 powered cars, including the F8 Tributo.

Ferrari Dino Highlights

When the original Dino was released, it was less expensive than other Ferrari models that were badged as such. Along with the gas crisis of the 1970s which sent exotic car values plummeting, many Dinos languished on used car lots at relatively inexpensive prices for years, while a debate simultaneously raged about whether the car was a true Ferrari or something less special. From the factory, the only place the Ferrari name appeared was on the required-by-law build tag in the door jam, but many self-conscious owners (and dealerships looking to sell cars) added incorrect Ferrari badges to the exterior. Today, Dinos produced by Ferrari are regarded by the vast majority of enthusiasts as Ferraris, with six-figure price tags to match. They are among the last of the "Enzo Era" Ferraris, meaning the days before Enzo sold part of his business to Fiat.

Ferrari Dino Buying Tips

Like any other Ferrari, provenance, condition, originality and service history are paramount when looking for a car to buy. That's even more important today, as used Dino prices have moved from about the equivalent of a new Corvette in the 1980s to around the cost of a new Ferrari F8 Tributo today. Roofless GTS models command a slight premium in the U.S., while closed GT coupes are often worth more in Europe. The V-6 engines are fairly robust and cost less to service than V-12 Ferraris, but bodywork is fragile and rust-prone. The cost of restoring a decrepit Ferrari Dino today will vastly eclipse the price of a car already in excellent condition.

Ferrari Dino Articles on Automobile

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Ferrari Dino Quick Facts

  • First year of production: 1968
  • Last year of production: 1974
  • Total sold: 3,721 (road cars)
  • Original price (base): $13,400
  • Characteristic feature: Ferrari's first mid-engine road car, the Dino is a small, lively driver's car with handling that ranked among the world's best in its day. It is also widely regarded as one of the prettiest Ferraris ever produced and ranks among Sergio Pininfarina's favorite personal designs.

Ferrari Dino FAQ

Is the Dino a real Ferrari?

While the Dino was originally conceived as a subbrand to Ferrari, most automotive historians, collectors and enthusiasts agree today that a Dino is a "real" Ferrari.

How much is does a Ferrari Dino cost?

Given a variety of factors including condition, color, ownership history, etc., a Ferrari Dino 246 GT/GTS will cost anywhere from the low $200,000 range for a car with needs to upwards of $400,000 for a show-winning example in the current 2020 market. Early Dino 206 GT models are often the most valuable, fetching perhaps a 20-percent premium over 246 GT/GTS cars.

How fast is a Ferrari Dino?

With a 2,900-lb curb weight and just under 200 hp from a V-6 engine, the Ferrari Dino 246 GT will go from 0 to 60 mph in around 7.0 seconds and on to a top speed of around 140 mph.