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Ferrari Dino 246GT

Published: 21st Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fab looks but has the resto been carried out properly. Many 80s rebuilds are being redone Fab looks but has the resto been carried out properly. Many 80s rebuilds are being redone
Excellent dash layout but check that all the dials and electrics work properly. Watch the cowl shroud for ageing as the interior Excellent dash layout but check that all the dials and electrics work properly. Watch the cowl shroud for ageing as the interior
Trim is very basic. Seat material was PVC when new although most cars are upgraded to leather as part of a resto. Red piping is Trim is very basic. Seat material was PVC when new although most cars are upgraded to leather as part of a resto. Red piping is
Check details like rear window seal fit. Lift seal to check for oversrpray Check details like rear window seal fit. Lift seal to check for oversrpray
Unique Dino wheels are still available but dealer. Centre caps are hen’s teeth Unique Dino wheels are still available but dealer. Centre caps are hen’s teeth
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What is a Dino 246GT

The Dino was Enzo Ferrari’s first ‘budget- priced’ production car. It was to cost around £6000 when it made its debut at the ’67 Turin Salon – but was considered too dear! This model was in fact, the Dino 206GT with alloy panelwork, all-alloy engine and even knock-off wheels, so in order to reduce costs, the Pininfarina-designed body was sculpted in steel by Scaglietti, a stronger and more powerful ironblock engine fitted and plastic trim was chosen instead of leather. The result? – a saving of about five hundred quid but even these economies failed to pour cold water on the recognition of the ultimate baby Ferrari – the Dino 246GT.

History

Much is made of the story that the production 246 was built as a tribute to Enzo’s beloved son Alfredino who died of a kidney disease back in 1956 but the ‘Dino’ designation goes back to the year following this tragedy when the new V6-engined Formula Two GP cars were also known as the 246 Dino. The original six pot Dino engine was far from just a Ferrari V12 cut in half.

The first designer Vittorio Jano used a 60-degree all-alloy twin-cam engine but some years later and Ferrari’s growing need for more financial support from Fiat, especially on the F2 racing front where there was a homologation need for at least 500 mass-produced engines of no more than six cylinders, hence a new V6 was developed with a choice of 1.5, 2.0 and 2.4-litres according to bores and strokes.

The final upshot of the collaboration in the late ‘60s was that the Fiat Dino Spider and Coupe and Ferrari 206GT Dino were borne, both designed by the legendary Pininfarina. The major differences being the 2+2 Fiat was front engined, driving the rear wheels whereas the transversally mounted, mid-engined Ferrari was very much a two-seater. Without doubt, it was also the best looking of the two. Both started out as 2.0-litres but then were opened up to 2418cc in 1969, the Ferrari having the edge on power by a few horses over the Fiat at 195bhp.

Having half the number of cylinders usually associated with a Ferrari, the big question at the time of its production – would it have the same appeal to the true ‘prancing horse’ buyer? To a degree, the answer lay in the hands of the motoring press who unanimously for once, gave it the biggest thumbs up ever. Despite its relatively low price, the Dino won worldwide acclaim for its styling and together with faultless handling and stunning performance in relation to its 2.4-litre engine size, it has lost none of its attraction to this day.

The only thing that has changed is the price. Whereas six grand bought you one new in 1971 (when the first UK cars came over), you could pay ten times that now for an absolute minter! Apart from looking beautiful, early Ferraris were not best known for their interior sumptuousness or luxury and the Dino was certainly no exception with its plastic trim in order to save manufacturing costs. Most by now have already been treated to at least some leather, a cosy carpet and a decent stereo.

The change from alloy to steel with virtually no rust proofing and a poor amount of paint had taken its toll on the majority. Fortunately with such a comparatively new model, new panels were plentiful and with professional restoration, decent anti-corrosion measures and a sound paint job, most are now surviving pretty well. Open the driver’s door of a Dino, look behind the driver’s seat and set into the rear bulkhead are three neat chrome levers. One releases the fuel cap; a task that is frequently put to use for despite the moderate 2.4-litre capacity, petrol consumption is not one of the Dino’s virtues with 15 mpg being a good average. Another lever releases the boot, at the very back of the car of course; room under the ‘bonnet’ housing the spare wheel, a nasty plastic screen-washer bag and completely inaccessible to all, the battery with enough room left for a tooth brush.

The boot however is surprisingly commodious, deep, wide and capable of holding several suitcases. This is considerably reduced with the 246 GTS ‘targa top’ model (introduced at the tail end of the Dino’s short life) if you choose to stow it in the boot. But it’s the all-important third centre lever that you pull to access the gem of an engine, albeit nothing like as spectacular to look at compared with most Ferrari V12s. With the four-cam V6 sandwiched in sideways between the boot and the occupants, there is not a lot to see when you lift the louvered engine compartment lid and a disappointment in some respects. Shudders go though you at the thought of attempting any form of DIY maintenance except perhaps changing a plug on the only accessible bank of three cylinders. And to get at the Magnetti- Marelli Dinoplex electronic ignition system looked a ‘mission impossible’ with the distributor cap disappearing somewhere under the wing. Fortunately, time has proved that the Dino engine is exceptionally robust and apart from routine maintenance, should need little attention. The 2418cc quad-cam V6 with a four main bearing crank pushes out a healthy 195bhp at 7600 rpm with a couple of thousand revs left if you really want to push your luck. It breathes through three twinchoke 40 DCF Webers and drives the rear wheels through its integral five-speed gearbox and differential assembly. The 246 GT and GTS were discontinued in 1974 after just over 4000 sales to be replaced by the 308 GT4. It was a retrograde step.

Driving

So with a useful 195 horses pushing a reasonably lightweight 1080Kg machine along, performance is best described as mildly exhilarating but falling short of sensational. For a thirty-year old car, it will mix and match with runof- the-mill present day machinery without a problem and when asked the inevitable question by a schoolboy ,“what will it do mister?” - 150mph won’t be far short of a truthful reply. The engine is a gem. It revs very freely and although gentle enough away with low revs, things really get going from about 3500 revs. The thought of a serious happening in the engine department usually restricts owners exceeding 7000 rpm these days but acceleration through the gears taking it near this engine speed propels you along to 60 mph in about seven seconds – just enough to see off the average GTi in other words. With very useful torque - an unusual characteristic for a Ferrari engine – the Dino is extremely tractable and unfussy with slow traffic situations or just a desire for less frantic driving.

That’s the good news – now for the bad. Drive it as carefully as you like, you certainly won’t touch 20mpg but if you own a Ferrari, should you be worrying about that? The five-speed manual gearbox likes to be warmed up before moving off and the changes then become easier after a few miles. A move from first to third direct for the first couple of changes is also advisable to help preserve the synchro on second gear. Slotting the gears neatly through the traditional Ferrari chrome gate is a satisfying movement, if not the slickest change in the world. Gearing is on the low side even with a five-speed ‘box. With a semi-reclined seating position and no other adjustment except fore-and-aft movement, driver comfort is what you’ve got, like it or hate it, but the cabin is surprisingly roomy with plenty of footwell space. Visibility through the steeply raked, curved screen and over that sensuous bonnet is simply the best and placing the tidy sized

Dino exactly where you want it on the road is dead easy and flatters one’s driving ability. The balance of this mid engined machine feels just right with superbly light and responsive steering, limpet-like handling (even on the old fashioned 70 Series rubber) with no roll whatsoever. Both its stopping power and rack-and-pinion steering require just the right amount of weight without any form of servo-assistance. It corners flat and in general, the Dino has the precise handling qualities you expect from a Ferrari although nowadays can feel more like a super MR2, which just shows you how far we’ve progressed in all those years.

Prices

The Ferrari Dino is one of the best classics of all time and short of an all-time ban on our old cars on the road, it will remain a sound investment. But even then on its looks alone, people will still want one – just to look at it! The 206 made between 1968/9 is rare but the smaller engine it not so appealing but still be prepared to pay between £25,000 upwards for a very average one. Later 246s rarely change hands now under £30K and none have dipped below that figure at auctions in the past year or two. Few seem to be advertised for sale privately and as buying at auction gives the would-be buyer little time to really inspect the car first, trusting the specialist Ferrari dealer is a serious option with usually the opportunity of a trial run and some form of warranty. Asking prices are understandably higher and are often in the £50/60K bracket. Left-hand drive 246GT models usually go for the same money as RHD with the Dino being so popular worldwide in the current buoyant classic car market. Anything under forty grand should be looked at most carefullyin the light of the expensive costs of refurbishing this model. Like so many quality classics, buying one that needs fully restoring is madness unless the price is very right. GTS targa versions can demand a premium in the order of £8/10K but less glass area, rattles and drafts are the down side or this variant that in some folk’s eyes is not as attractive as the GT Coupe.

What To Look For

  • Be very careful when Dino hunting. This is a very specialised car indeed and if you don’t know what to look for then have a car inspected by a Ferrari expert. Most specialists will do this (and probably know the car anyway). For what it costs and more importantly what it can save, it is money well spent.
  • Buyer beware! According to leading Dino specialist DK Engineering of Watford (01923 255246) most of them aren’t good at all (even if they look superb) and finding a top-notch Dino is very difficult. Restorations can cost £30-60,000 and it has sold cars for around £80,000. Most owners use them as the third fun car.
  • Rust was always a problem with the Dino from day one. Buy a restored one unless you’ve got money to burn. Check all the body panels below the waistline for rot, particularly behind the front wheel arches and sills. Remove the full-length undertray to inspect if possible and be suspicious if the seller won’t oblige…
  • Make sure the correct Cromadora 14” alloy wheels are still fitted. They should have just Dino badging. New wheels still are available but are expensive and the centre caps are becoming hard to source
  • The chassis features oval sections where the sills are mounted and this is a prime rot spot as they contain coolant pipes and the wiring (only the Italians would do such a thing). It’s not unknown for bodges to involve tacking on sill after sill…Check the rear structure for rust.
  • Avoid a ‘smoker (worn pistons aren’t unknown)’, but don’t worry about mileage, too much. A Dino engine is good for 100,000 miles if well looked-after. If it smokes, new valve guides and a top end overhaul will cost you two grand – sloppy pistons, a lot more. Oil pressure should be as high as 80psi.
  • A proper service history is very important, and a good car will have a sheath of invoices and bills an inch thick. Work entrusted to the several dedicated Dino specialists is a must, but the bills won’t necessarily give you a heart attack. A typical ‘old fashioned’ 3000 mile service with oil changes, new filters and tappet adjustment could be as little as £400, for example.
  • Check out the exhaust. A new one is expensive. If it replacing, go for stainless: it will cost you a grand but last the car’s life. Check the system with the engine running by putting your hands briefly over the tailpipes – with a mate of course as there’s four of them!
  • Timing chain wear is a worry. Timing chains give more piece of mind than the modern cam-belt which can snap, but there are two on a Dino – and one’s a pig to get to so make sure they are evenly tensioned and don’t rattle. Worn cams as a result are almost £500 apiece.
  • Needs a new clutch? Then its not an easy DIY job but a fairly frequent one here. Including parts; around a grand to have done.·
  • Don’t worry if it hasn’t been converted to unleaded. Both valves and seats are very hard on this V6 engine and providing you use a quality additive, super unleaded is fine. ·
  • Once set up, the conventional wishbone independent suspension (which can be shimmed) and healthy-sized ventilated disc brakes all round should remain trouble-free but Dinos benefit from being used regularly; it’s the hardly-used examples that seem to be the most troublesome.
  • Nick Cartwright has restored more Dinos than everybody and advises extreme caution, saying that as much as 80 per cent of cars out there are rot riddled. He’d sooner an unrestored tatty car.

Verdict

The Dino is an all time great – it’s as simple as that and anybody fortunate enough to be in the market for one is a lucky soul! That said, love is blind and that sexy look could blur your judgement. Many are now well sorted, but there are still a great number of bodged ones around. Take care and have an expert check if you are the slightest bit wary.



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