Alfredino "Dino" Ferrari was Enzo Ferrari’s son and by all accounts the only person or thing the Ferrari founder ever loved more than cars and racing. In the ’50s Dino suggested that his father’s company should build a small V6 for use in Formula 2 competition. But Dino died of nephritis in 1956 before the engine he had suggested and fostered would run. And long before it would earn glory for winning the 1961 Grand Prix world championship with American driver Phil Hill piloting the Ferrari Dino 156 "shark nose."
So when Ferrari decided to put a V6-powered car for the street into production, it was no surprise that he would call it the Dino. In fact it was called Dino to the exclusion of the name Ferrari, as it was expected that Dino would become a second line of vehicles that would let the Italian manufacturer compete against such lowly marques as Jaguar, Mercedes and Porsche.
The Dino road car first appeared at the 1966 Turin Auto Show: a midengine two-seater powered by a 2.0-liter version of the Dino V6 engine (the "206" part of the name indicates a 2.0-liter 6-cylinder engine). With an alloy body designed by Ferrari’s usual collaborator Pininfarina, the 1967 Dino 206 GT was, if nothing else, gorgeous.
With its flowing, curvaceous fenders and sweeping flying buttress roof pillars leading to a ducktail spoiler, the Dino was simply beautiful. That luscious styling enveloped a steel tube frame mounting an all-independent suspension of unequal-length double A-arms at all four corners of the car. The engine sat transversely behind the cockpit and drove a five-speed manual transaxle.
Despite its rather puny displacement, the Dino’s all-alloy V6 produced a thrilling 180 horsepower thanks to double-overhead cams, a lightweight reciprocating assembly, a relatively high 9.6:1 compression ratio and three Weber two-barrel downdraft carburetors. Since the Dino was only 165 inches long (about an inch shorter than a 2005 Honda Civic coupe), stood just 43.9 inches tall and weighed less than 2,000 pounds, 180 hp was enough to make for a scintillating performance.
The Dino was produced in cooperation with Fiat, which produced the Ferrari-designed V6 and even used the same engine in the front-engine Fiat Dino coupe and roadster. While the Fiat Dino is considered a minor classic today, it’s nowhere near as beloved as the Ferrari that used the same moniker.
The Dino 206 GT remained in production unchanged through 1968 and into 1969, until it was phased out in favor of the Dino 246 GT. Otherwise the same car as the 206, the name change indicates the 246 used a new 2.4-liter version of the V6 engine. Thanks to increases in both bore and stroke, the new engine was rated at 195 hp. But some of that additional power was used up in pushing a heavier vehicle, as the body was now steel and the engine reverted to an iron block, some luxury features were added and the car’s wheelbase grew 2.1 inches (to 92.1 inches) to provide more cabin space. As a result, the total weight was up almost 400 pounds over the 206 GT.
The one significant addition to the Dino line for 1972 was the Dino 246 GTS, which replaced the roof’s steel center section with a lift-off panel similar in concept to the Porsche 911 Targa top. The "S" in the GTS name stood for "Spyder."
Ferrari never did much more to change the original Dino through the end of its production life after the 1973 model year. It was never a less than exhilarating machine, even if it was less civilized than most Porsches, and it was wildly popular. Even though the Ferrari name never appeared upon it, there was no denying where this car came from.
Sadly, the successor to the first Dino would never be so beloved.
Source: www.edmunds.com - Dino to F430 and all the legends in between
Images: Ferrari S.p.A.; hemmings.com; www.renestaud.com
Pictured Above: 1967 Ferrari Dino 206 GT Prototype by Pininfarina
Pictured Above: 1968-1969 Ferrari Dino 206 GT by Pininfarina
Pictured Above: 1969-1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS