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Date with a Dino

Ferrari Dino Published: 17th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Date with a Dino
Date with a Dino The Dino’s classic shape looks wonderful from all angles. Sadly it was a rust trap so vet all buys well
Date with a Dino Fantastic quad-cam V6 may seem ordinary now but was advanced then. Pacey and sounds so beautiful
Date with a Dino Simple seats are comfier than they look. Red piping is non standard
Date with a Dino It may look so antiquated now but what a lovely dash the Dino boasts!
Date with a Dino
Date with a Dino
Date with a Dino Look hard but you shouldn’t find Ferrari badges. Dino one is just as sexy
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Our auctions expert Ray Potter wanted a Ferrari Dino while he could still afford one. Here’s how he found the Ferrari of his dreams while offering sound advice to ensure it doesn’t turn into a nightmare!

I’ve always dreamed of owning a Dino and was determined to get this ‘baby Ferrari’ ASAP. Following my auction report on the incredible George Milligen sale at Goodwood recently, avid readers of my ‘Under the Hammer’ pages may have gathered that I had my eye on the ex-Cozy Powell Ferrari Dino 246GT in the same auction but came away empty handed when it became a bid too far; a disappointment as was convinced it had my name on it with the number plate RPA – no rude guesses as to what the ‘A’ might stand for! Not to be outdone, I returned from the auction determined to buy what I felt might be the ultimate car to join my small stable of cars that would then span some fifty years of motoring, if I now count my ten year old Subaru SVX a classic (yes you should –ed). Before going to Goodwood, I had already spotted another Dino advertised – in a rival classic car magazine I have to say (no comment-ed) – and on my return, I found out it was still for sale and very conveniently, was situated reasonably local to me. The owner was extremely honest and explained that he had bought the Ferrari at an auction some eighteen months ago and although described in the catalogue as ‘restored to a very high standard’ and at some considerable expense by a reputable Ferrari specialist, he had regretted not spending more time at the sale to check up on its condition and restoration history. He had in fact, gone to the sale to buy another car but having been outbid, bought the Dino on impulse, first glance, and at a seemingly bargain price too! Lesson 1 for all you readers – leave plenty of time to check out and inspect the goods! Being CCFS’s auction man, I remember having attended this particular sale some eighteen months ago and after fishing out the catalogue to read my notes on the car in question, found I had marked it down as being “superficially restored with a bad door fit but otherwise, a reasonable buy for the price…” The first thing I noticed on viewing the same car at its new home was that the doors now fitted well, the paint (Rosso Corsa, what else!) was perfect and far better than I remember, plus the trim in black leather with red piping and red carpets looked far more imaginative than the all black-trimmed Goodwood car. I can best describe the private owner of this Dino for sale as a car nut - and a wealthy one too as I counted an eclectic mix of no less than twenty mouth-watering cars around his house. A car nut he may be by his own admission but above all, he is a perfectionist and so on acquiring the Dino, his first major concern was that despite the extensive history file of the rebuild, it failed its MoT on several counts! Lesson 2 Don’t be fooled by a restoration or a so-called specialist! He had all the faults put to right, again by another Ferrari specialist, and this included a complete gearbox rebuild (an Achilles heel of the Dino’s mid-engined design apparently), engine overhaul, new clutch, all new hoses and clips, new shocks, suspension parts and track-rod ends – the list was endless, and so was the bill! To finish the job, the doors were fixed with new hinges and it was treated to a superb repaint on top of what I thought was more than good enough when I first saw the car on view at the auction. The car is now what can only be described as a ‘minter’ – and now it’s mine! With less than a thousand miles under its belt since, one might ask why is he selling it? I think I hit the nail on the head when I suggested to the man that perhaps it became an expensive disappointment from day one and although always wanting a Dino to add to his collection and now perfect, the gilt of the car had tarnished, especially as he has so many other exotic cars to enjoy – including a couple of Lamborghinis, another Ferrari or two, plus a Maserati to name but a few of his faster cars. He also had a long legal battle to recover some of the costs under trade descriptions against the past owner and auctioneers but eventually decided he was getting absolutely nowhere. Lesson 3 Buyer beware. Read the small print of the catalogues very carefully indeed when buying at auction.

“Cor - respect or what”

When I told our editor that I had bought a Dino, Alan replied in his inimitable way – ” Cor – respect or what!!”. But I was glad to hear his further comments that concurred with my feelings about the car. ” Look at it from any angle – it’s a stunner”. As I’m sure a lot of our readers will know, this prettiest of all Ferraris was designed and named in tribute to the early death of Enzo’s son Alfredino. The name ‘Dino’ was assigned to this and a few other V6mid-engined road and racing cars of the period and consequently the 246 was the only model not to sport either the famous Prancing Horse or the Ferrari badge although most, including mine, have now been so adorned on that sensational rear end. I had an amusing reminder of this during my first long run with the car. Stuck in virtually stationary traffic on the old A40 and watching the temperature gauges creeping upwards – although I have to say with much more tolerance than my other classics, I turned off at the next opportunity as I thought a small beer and a rest for the car (and me) would be a good idea. Having parked near a village ale house and about to go in when three ‘jack the lads’ came out and on seeing the car, one of them ran across and had a good look round to see what it was. ” It says Ferrari on the back” -. he shouted out. “It’s a f***ing kit car” retorted one of the others. To their amusement, and what I hoped was with working class camaraderie, I put them wise in no uncertain terms! The 246GT was the coupe, the GTS with a removable roof panel being the targa version and just 2487 were built between 1969/74 and it’s reckoned that around 500 still exist. Beautifully sculpted by Pininfarina, at the time of its launch it was among the most fashionable cars money could buy – all of six grand! Before you all start to thing that’s cheaper than a Ford Ka, let me tell you that 30 years ago the Dino was a pricey as an Aston and for the same money you could have purchased a couple of E-Type V12s! Now good Dinos are worth up to ten times their showroom price on an equally good day. Although having only half the cylinders normally associated with a Ferrari, the V6 2418cc engine with two banks of twin overhead cams giving out nearly 200bhp sounds nonetheless exciting. Sitting transversely just a inches away from the driver and passenger’s ears behind that curvaceous rear window that separates the engine bay from the cabin, it is pure mechanical magic to listen to. It emits a guttural growl at low revs rising to pure music when it nears 7000 rpm (who needs a radio?). True that now at thirty year old, the car’s actual performance levels hardly makes the eyes water and many a modern car of equal engine size (say a Mondeo V6) can show it a clean pair of low profile rear tyres, but it’s still a sensational car to drive.

“It’s every bit as good on the road as I had hoped – better in fact”

Having done the deal, it occurred to me that I had not yet actually driven the car or for that matter, any other Dino 246.This was partly due to the fact that the local highways department had removed most of the road outside the vendor’s house leaving naked curbs, manholes etc; not very friendly towards the underside of a low-slung Ferrari, so my sole experience with the car at the time was moving it a few yards from its garage. Came the day of collection a week later, the road outside the house was in exactly the same state but with the aid of a wooden ramp and careful circumnavigation of the main ridges of gnawed tarmac, we were on our way with my wife following at a discreet distance with the parting words – “Don’t go showing off!” Being a six-footer and not exactly slim-fit, I was impressed with the amount of room in this strictly two-seater. Seat adjustment is purely for length and reach, but for an Italian car for once I found my arms and legs in the right places for the steering wheel and pedals. My only grouse however was that the fixed steering column meant that the two main dials on the instrument panel were obscured by the wheel at their most critical segments i.e., 70 mph and top-end revs. With the V6 four-cam engine burbling away behind my ears, I was conscious of the necessity of warming the oil before hoofing it, especially in the integral transmission department with the ‘yet to be run in’ gearbox. In any case, with my wife eye-balling me when I looked in the mirrors, we cruised with the flow of the M25 for the few junctions with the relief that it was actually flowing! Having turned off and arrived at a major junction with traffic lights, my wife drew alongside but my urge to display a turn of rapid acceleration was somewhat cooled when I espied a motorcycle cop parked up, probably waiting for a nice shiny red Ferrari to do something stupid. I played it cool, especially as there was another patrol car just over the other side. With wife now in front, I thought the ideal opportunity for a swift overtake and show her a brief rear view of the car would come on the dual carriageway just ahead when yet another police car came down a slip-road right behind me. Anxious not to be awarded a few points on my licence on my first day with the Dino, I had to duck down to check my speed – as mentioned 70 to 90 was out of vision – but it then occurred to me that the ‘bill’ would think a twelve-year-old would be at the wheel so I was bobbing up and down in my seat to try and keep it all legal like. They followed close behind for six long miles!

Dino really is a dream come true

I have now driven the car for several hundred miles and can now fully appreciate the accolades the Dino 246GT was given by the motoring press in its day back in the ‘70s. Although I was a motoring scribe at the time, writing for my London newspaper group apparently did not warrant an invitation to road test such exotica as a new Ferrari but I can now fully endorse the worldwide praise awarded to the car more than thirty years ago. Apart from the partial obscurity of the dials, the driving position is fine with tons of leg, elbow and headroom. The familiar Ferrari gate gearchange has a dog-leg ‘left and down first which you can forget about once on the move. This leaves the other four forwards gears working in the logical plane with a simple push forward change from fifth to fourth. Despite having synchro on all gears, the action is far from a hot ‘knife-through-butter’ and if wanting a quick change, you have to be decisive but otherwise, a firm but unhurried action works best. With the gearbox integral with the engine and equally close to your ear, the great engine note is accompanied by a variety of muted transmission whines which all adds to the symphony of mechanical noises that has always been a character of a Ferrari. Tick-over is steady and free of any stalling habits; often a bugbear of many classics and when the condition of your battery is very important. It’s surprisingly flexible, although it pays to keep the revs over 2000 in any gear to avoid a brief fluff on acceleration. The clutch is light with a smooth take-up and positive bite but as mentioned, it’s brand new so I think I will treat it with respect for a while and not attempt any ‘doughnuts’ that’s so fashionable.

Twenty mph per thousand revs

Although maximum advisable revs of the engine is given as 7800, I have up to now been disciplined enough to keep it under ‘six and a half’ which gives you an amazing amount of shunt for just 2.4-litres with sounds that makes the hairs on the back of your next stand on end. In top gear, 1000 revs gives you 20mph and although not particularly high by today’s lofty standards, cruising say at 70mph sounds and feels remarkably laid back at 3500 rpm. Track tests show that it is capable of nearly double that but I think I’ll take a rain check on that one for the time being. Looking through the huge rounded windscreen, visibility over the sloping bonnet and those curvaceous front wings that literally hug the contours of the wheels is second to none. Placing the car where you want it on the road is so easy, and made easier by the light, stunningly accurate steering. Just over three turns from lock to lock of the 14” Dino-inscribed wheel feels just right for fast cornering, parking it up or keeping a straight line at speed. Turn-in is instant and with the engine weight just forward of the rear wheels as per all mid-engined cars, the stability when cornering really fast is sensational – even on those oh-so tall 70 profile radials. An 80’s Toyota MR2 MK1 could match it for speed but not thrills where it’s all down to the driver’s skill rather than computer-controlled everything. Pedal space is remarkably generous for an Italian sports car with a large rest for the clutch foot, all-important if you have big feet ‘ like what I’ve got’. The alldisc brake system is not over-servoed and feels very positive in stopping the car in a hurry, and that is very reassuring when mixing it with modern traffic and modern motorway morons. Reaction so far from others on the road towards this lovely old Ferrari, has been interesting. Not that I drive particularly fast you understand, but many seeing you approaching in their mirror, leap out of the way expecting you to roar past, often to find they have accelerated again alongside in the middle lane to have a good look. Others put their foot down and tailgate the car in front as if to say – “If you think you’re going to overtake me – think again!” Such is life with a Dino – but I’ll suffer it.

Buying any exotic demands special care. Here are Ray’s top tips to ensure that the dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare!

Rationalise why you want that dream car. Just longing for one may not be enough as you could end up sorely disappointed. Read up on the car, speak to an owners’ club and try to cadge a drive in one – even if you don’t get behind the wheel yourself.

Never buy the first one you see. Gift horses are rare and that thoroughbred could be an old nag – and yet to you it could still be the best thing since sliced bread because you have nothing else to compare it to.

Don’t take it as read that because a car has been professionally ‘restored’ it is in tip-top condition. Standards do vary. For example, even though my Dino was restored and came with an extensive service record it still failed a routine MOT!

Seek out a good specialist to look after routine servicing and refettling. This is vital if you want to both enjoy your super car classic and keep the costs at reasonable levels.

An owners club can help here, although don’t run away with the idea that you can run a Ferrari on a Fiesta budget. For example on the Dino it is recommended that the oil and filters are changed every 3000 miles along with an important valve clearance check. Camshafts and their belts also require regular changes on this engine and they don’t come cheap.

Use it! Far too many supercar classics are left idle after a loving restoration and apart from the fact that the lay off can do more harm than good, what’s the point of having a dream car if you don’t use it? Although I’m hardly going to use my Dino as an everyday shopping car I fully intend to use it as and when I can (weather permitting, naturally). When you hankered for a car for so long it seems silly to simply have it as a glorified ornament.


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