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Ferrari Dino 246 GT

Ferrari Dino 246 GT Published: 5th May 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ferrari Dino 246 GT
Ferrari Dino 246 GT
Ferrari Dino 246 GT
Ferrari Dino 246 GT
Ferrari Dino 246 GT
Ferrari Dino 246 GT
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WHY NOT OWN A...? Ferrari Dino 246 GT

Could the Dino be the most beautiful road car ever made? Certainly plenty of people make this claim – although to say it’s the most beautiful Ferrari ever made is inaccurate, since the Dino was never badged as a Ferrari.

Indeed, Maranello’s own advertising referred to it as “almost a Ferrari.” That’s because, when Enzo Ferrari was looking for a name for his new ‘junior’ Porsche 911 rival, he struck upon ‘Dino’ – after his late son. The ’68 newcomer was a radical departure: Maranello’s first ever road car with a mid-mounted engine (excepting the race-ready 250LM) and its first with a V6 engine.

Pininfarina badges identified Enzo’s favoured design house, the supremely elegant shape being penned by Leonardo Fioravanti. This was also one of the first road cars to be properly aerodynamically tested (in the wind tunnel of Turin’s Polytechnic Institute).

MODEL CHOICE

As launched in 1968, the Dino 206 was very different to the majority of Dinos built over its six-year lifespan. For starters, it had all-aluminium bodywork, and its 2280mm wheelbase was 60mm shorter than the later Dino. In addition, its Fiatbuilt V6 engine had a capacity of merely 1986cc. Ferrari claimed its power output as 180bhp but in reality the engine produced only 160bhp, as it was exactly the same engine as powered the Fiat Dino.

The 206 is a very rare car indeed: only 152 were ever made. That was because, within a year of launch, the original 206 was replaced with a much-revised 246GT. The aluminium bodywork was gone, replaced with all-new steel panelling with a different shape.

The car was also significantly bigger, with a longer wheelbase.

The other big difference was the engine, expanded to 2418cc. Power was much more healthy at 195bhp and performance was lively by the standards of 1969.

Minor improvements followed, with so-called Series II cars gaining Cromodora alloys in 1970 and Series III cars (1971) having changes to the car’s shortish gearing.

But the biggest change in the Dino’ life-cycle was the arrival of the GTS (Spider) version in 1972. This wasn’t a true ‘spider’ but a targatopped model with a simple lift-out roof panel that could be stowed behind the seats. Chassis strengthening ensured no loss of rigidity over the Coupé Production totalled 2295 of the 246GT and 1274 of the 246GTS (which together with Dino 206 production makes a grand total of 3721). Right-hand drive examples are particularly rare, with 488 GT and 235 GTS models being RHD. This isn’t the rarest car from Maranello, but in terms of desirability, it’s right up there with the most rarefied.

BEHIND THE WHEEL

Forget the stratospheric value of Dinos – this is a car that really begs to be driven. Few cars offer such a delicacy of feel, and such a sublime concatenation of talents.

Raw power, however, is not what the Dino is about. While the V6 has a decent amount of torque from as low as 1500rpm, it’s at its best at higher revs – especially above 5000rpm when is starts to sing beautifully. It will rev to 8000rpm, at which point it’s an aural delight.

Performance is lively rather than urgent. Weighing almost 1200kg means its peak of 195bhp gives it a respectable turn of speed – we’re talking 0-60mph in around seven seconds. The 246 was claimed to do 146mph but the July 1971 road test by Motor magazine bettered this, reaching 148mph.

No, handling precision is what the Dino is really about. The rackand- pinion steering is superbly sharp and full of feel, allowing you to experience the sweetness of the handling. There’s minimal body roll and it really behaves itself around corners, understeering until you lift off, when the tail tucks in predictably.

As Denis Jenkinson put it in his Motor Sport road test in 1971: “Without reservation it has gone down in my special list of the unbelievable… Of all the mid-engined cars of which I have had experience the Dino stands head and shoulders above the rest… The way the wheels stay on the road is truly impressive and to change direction through an 80mph ess-bend over camber changes at the same time makes you purr with satisfaction and say to yourself, ‘Marvellous, why can’t all cars handle like this?’” Quite.

He wasn’t so complimentary about the driving position, though (which suffers from offset pedals and a low-set steering wheel): “It is not possible to alter the angle of the back of the seats, a very necessary adjustment on any car that is going to be used for serious motoring…

“A disappointment was the very layout of the instruments, as they appear to have been put in place by a stylist and not a motorist.”

The ride quality is surprisingly good, too, and remains so. Autocar’s road test of 1971noted that, “For a sports car the ride on the Dino is excellent. Huge wheel arches allow sufficient suspension movement for quite soft but well-damped absorption over bumps.”

WHAT TO PAY

It was only a generation ago that Dinos were looked down upon as troublesome, poorly built rust-traps, and you could pick up roadworthy Dinos in the early 1980s for under £5000. Things have rather turned around now: Dinos are seen as investment commodities, chased by hedge funds managers.

Top examples can now sell for as much as £400,000, and even the cheapest Dinos cost more than a quarter of a million quid.

Condition is the vital ingredient to value. And since pretty much every Dino has now been restored, who did the restoration and when, is also key to value.

Colour isn’t a deciding factor on value, either, as the sensational shape seems to suit any shade. Nor is the GTS preferred over the GT, or vice versa. One definite option worth seeking out is the so-called ‘chairs and flares’ option that consists of Daytona seats, wider wheelarches and larger Campagnolo wheels.

MAKING ONE BETTER

The Dino certainly has its flaws, but the highest values apply to cars in completely original, unmolested form. Having said that, most cars have now been fitted with leather trim (which was an option to the standard vinyl), which is fine but only if it’s of the highest quality. Likewise, the dash (originally covered in distinctly iffy suede-look trim that lacked stamina) is commonly retrimmed in superior leather or Alcantara.

The boot tends to get very hot, so heat-reflective lining is a common fit. The standard heating and ventilation system is pretty weak, so upgrading to air conditioning (which was optional in some markets) is possible but the more you alter the more the car may be devalued.

AS A DAILY DRIVER

Come on, who is ever going to use a Dino as a daily driver? Values have soared to levels where you just can’t consider using it for anything other than occasional shows and quiet blasts. More’s the pity, as the Dino is actually a great car, and easy to drive. That said, it was always a delicate beast in need of constant fettling and caring for.

MAINTENANCE MATTERS

The high value of Dinos means that it’s your choice of who looks after it that’s crucially important – the right or wrong name in the history file can seriously affect values. A well cared-for example with plenty of history and receipts from an acknowledged specialist will be worth a lot more than one with very little proof of recent care.

Pretty much every Dino will have been restored at some point in its life, and again the quality and provenance of this work has a big impact on value. The cost of fully restoring a Dino properly is eye-watering – you’re easily looking at six figures – so make sure yours has been done properly by a wellknown name in the restoration field; early restorations could be real lash ups and will now need redoing.

Luckily, there are many Ferrari specialists offering very high quality services, albeit it comes at a price. Many are able to supply hard-to-find parts – trim is a particularly tricky area these days – but almost anything can be fixed or remanufactured. Loads of replica parts (often built to a higher quality than the originals) are now available, from body panels to wheels.

VERDICT

Every serious Ferrari collector needs a Dino in their stable, and its skyrocketing values unfortunately mean that only wealthy collectors can now afford one. But if you’ve got a spare £300K lying around, there are few more certain ways to reap rich rewards – both monetary and in terms of the driving experience. And of course you’ll have the rare pleasure of gawping at possibly the world’s most beautiful car every day.

BUYING TIPS

ENGINE

Beware major engine troubles – a full rebuild can cost £10,000. Listen for clatter, indicating possible wear to the camshafts, timing chain or tappets.

Cams wear quickly. Check oil pressure is around 85psi at 5000rpm. An exhaust costs £1000 plus fitting, manifolds £500 each.

Magneti Marelli Dinoplex ignition pack often upgraded for Bosch or BSM programmable units.

BODY & CHASSIS

Dinos have a terrible record on rust, so determine how well any restoration work has been carried out.

Most panels are steel (the bonnet is aluminium, and doors often are, too).

Rust-prone areas include wings, sills, doors, boot lid and seatbelt upper anchorage panels. Water can penetrate into the steel member housing the coolant pipes and wiring.

Check the three-piece sills carefully: if rusty they need to be replaced all in one go – be suspicious of repairs to the outer sill only.

RUNNING GEAR

The five-speed gearbox can suffer damage if used ham-fistedly from cold. Second gear is commonly reluctant to engage.

The double wishbone suspension is strong. Budget £200 per corner for replacement bushes.
Check for seized brake callipers if the car has been used infrequently. Worn handbrake ratchets are common.

Early Dinos have knock-off wheels but later ones have bolt-on 6J Cromodoras or 7J Campagnolo Elektrons. Genuine 205/70 14 Michelin XWX tyres are best for ride and handling.

GENERAL

Originality is very much prized, so check all is present and correct.

The seats and door cards were vinyl originally – not terribly nice and not terribly durable either.

Cars that are used regularly prove cheaper to keep going in the long run. Drive it every few weeks, service it annually or every 3000 miles and it’ll respond well. A major 6000-mile service costs around £2000.

Parts availability is good through specialists such as Superformance, Eurospares, Dinoparts

SIX OF THE BEST REASONS TO BUY

  • Iconically beautiful shape
  • Delightful to drive
  • Likely to keep rising in value
  • Good specialist support
  • Collector status assured
  • One of the all-time greats

HOW MANY LEFT

The majority have probably been restored to some level by now 2500 Beware of kit car replicas…

TOP MOD

The secret of Dino ownership is to keep the car completely standard; if it’s not to original spec, values can be adversely affected. That said, it’s very tempting to upgrade the engine to the same spec as the contemporary Lancia Stratos – the changes could net an extra 30bhp while remaining true to authentic 1970s engineering.



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