Friday, July 10, 2009

Is the Dino 246 GTs the best Ferrari while not really being one?

When Ferrari Owners were asked to name the most beautiful Ferrari in history in a survey, funny enough they named the Dino 246 GT as the most beautiful. It's funny because actually the Dino wasn't a Ferrari really.
The history of the (Ferrari) Dino begins already in the 50ies, when Ferrari needed six cylinder engines for his formula 1 and 2 cars. The design of these engines was based on ideas of Alfredino who was Enzo’s son. He died with 24 years, but the engine was built and was highly successful. Years later the sports regulation demanded that formula 2 engines had to be produced in large numbers and Enzo Ferrari signed a cooperation with Fiat to produce first 2 liter and later 2.4 liter 6 cylinder engines that were used for the Fiat Dinos (Coupé and Convertible), the 206/246 GT/GTS and the Lancia Stratos as well.
Enzo Ferrari didn’t agree to use the Ferrari brand for cars built around engines with less than 12 cylinders, so the new car got its own brand “Dino” going back to Ferrari’s son. The brand was kept separate of Ferrari and even got its own distribution network. Years later the brand was given up with the 308 GT/4 as the last car, later 8 cylinder cars were given the name “Ferrari”.
The prototype of the Dino 206 GT was presented in 1965 at the car show in Paris. In November 1967 the Dino 206 Competitione was shown, now with the transvere mounted 2 liter engine. 1968 finally an almost production ready prototype was exhibited in Brussels. Production started in 1968 at Sciaglietti, final assembly was done in the Ferrari factory in Modena.
In 1970 the 246 GT replaced the 206 GT. It had a larger ironcast engine, many of the alluminium parts had been replaced by steer and the seats now were covered with vinyl. The car was a bit longer and was produced in three series (L, M and E). 1972 a sister car, the 246 GTS was announced showing a targa roof.
What all Dinos had in common was the special rear screen allowing for optimal visibility.
In general Dinos handle very well and almost like go-karts. They are easy to drive and compared to their larger sisters (i.e. Daytona or 365 GTC) quite compact and much closer to a race car.
The Dino 246 GT wasn’t cheap! Price levels were comparable with the Porsche 911S 2.4.
The Dino 246 GT is not rare in super car terms. In total almost 4’000 Dinos 206/246 were produced between 1967 and 1974. The Dino 246 GT coupe left the factory 2'487 times. Now, on the one side, this may seem like a large number, however compared to Ferrari production figures today, Dinos are quite exclusive. Today Ferrari produces more 430 in a year than they built Dinos over 7 years.
Prices have been increasing steadily over the last years and it's difficult to buy a good one below 100'000 Euros these days. Maintenance costs are comparable to the ones of an 8 cylinder Ferrari, but certainly cheaper than the 12 cylinders. Reliability is actually very good, if the car is properly maintained.
When driving it, the car feels much more modern than you would expect. Besides the horrible seats it's a really good drive. Handling is impeccable and performance is acceptable even with today's standards. It's not blistering fast, but you will certainly not slow down the traffic. And it still feels like a proper race car, but with good manners. When you drive it you see the swooping curves of the front, just like the guys at the Targa Florio did when driving the 206 S.
It's is pretty obvious that with all these credentials and characteristics Dino 246 GTs are both a good investment and a pleasure to own.

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