It was 50 years ago that the world first caught a sight of the Dino. At the 1965 Paris motor show, the prestigious Italian car manufacturer Ferrari exhibited a prototype which was to become a significant member of its list of iconic sports cars. The Dino was an innovative sports car as its mid-engine, rear wheel drive set-up was the first of its kind as a domestic vehicle.
Alfredo 'Dino' Ferrari
This engineering concept was an idea first thought of by Alfredo 'Dino' Ferrari, the son of the manufacturer's founder Enzo. Well educated, Alfredo was a student of economics before moving his attention to mechanical engineering which saw him based in Switzerland to continue his studies. Due to ill health which was eventually diagnosed as muscular dystrophy, Alfredo returned back to Italy and started to work for Ferrari. Despite only working for a short period of time, Alfredo was heavily involved in the technical development of their race cars.
It was at this point where he proposed the idea to his father about having a V6 engine he designed for the F2 race car added to a domestic vehicle. Despite the project getting approval from Enzo, Alfredo was unable to see his dream materialise as he was to succumb to his illness at the age of 24. However, he along with fellow engineer and colleague Vittorio Jano continued to work on the concept until his death in June 1956. Paying tribute to his son, when the car was entered into production in 1968 it was named in honour of his son, Dino.
Birth of the Dino 206GT
As a result of positive feedback from the Paris and Turin motor shows, the Dino inevitably came to market in 1968. Unlike other Ferrari manufactured models, the Dino was aimed at a wider portion of the car buying market as it was much more affordable. This is one of the reasons why the car didn't originally carry the Ferrari name as it was associated to prestigious Italian supercars, and the Dino was targeted in a different way. The first model to market was the 206GT. The eye-catching design of smooth curves and elegant lines was typical of Italian sports cars of the time, and it was equipped with a 2.0L V6 engine. With a top speed of 140mph, a 0-60mph time of 7.5 seconds and a capability of producing 158bhp, feedback from many critics was that it wasn't powerful enough considering it was made by Ferrari.
Just like many of the Ferrari products at the time, there was an appetite from the manufacturer to produce a racing version. However, this wasn't initially possible as the class Ferrari wanted to enter the Dino into, a certain amount of domestic models needed to be made available. As only 152 were built, the car didn't meet the correct criteria, therefore Ferrari teamed up with Fiat to co-produce the race vehicle.
Increase in power: the Dino 246 GT & GTS
After a call for increased power, the Dino 246 GT & GTS models were released just a year after the 206 GT. This time fitted with a bigger 2.4L V6 engine, it was capable of producing 195bhp, had a reduced 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds and had a top speed of 146mph. As production of the Dino 246 was in place for a significantly longer period of time compared to the 206 GT, there were more models produced in total, 2,295 of the GT and 1,274 of the GTS.
The second generation Dino had subtle changes to the appearance in addition to the engine developments. This ignited the popularity of the Italian sports car, and competed much stronger on the market against the rival Porsche 911. By 1969, the Dino was in fact competing with the 911 on a variety of fronts. Not only did the Dino offer better performance statistics, it was also priced close enough to the German alternative. The Dino was available for £5,485, whereas the Porsche 911's retail price was set at £5,211. The Dino was aimed to target a much bigger buying group compared to other Ferrari's and therefore was considered affordable, however in today's market, a 246 GT is likely to cost in excess of £300,000.
The popularity of the 246 GT engine was tangible amongst other manufacturers, and this was evident when Lancia fitted their Stratos rally car with the same system.
A brand new look: Dino 308 GT4
In 1973, Ferrari launched the Dino 308 GT4, and its design was controversial due to the drastic differences from the previous model. The Dino had lost the traditional rounded features of an Italian sports car and was replaced by much sharper and edgier lines. The car styling company Bertone was responsible for the design of the 308 GT4 and it was compared heavily to the Lamborghini Urraco. However, the most influential change was the installation of the 3.0L V8 engine.
So popular, it was the same engine that Ferrari decided to use in many of their models over the next 20 years. Despite the 308 remaining in production until 1980, the model dropped the 'Dino' name in 1976 when it finally picked up the 'prancing-horse' branding. This move was in an effort to improve sales as the increased price deterred buyers as they couldn't justify spending that much on a Ferrari without the name itself.
The buried Dino 246 GTS
Back in 1978, a roof of a car was discovered by two young boys in the front garden of a Los Angeles home. Immediately contacting the LAPD, they started digging to find it to be a Dino 246 GTS wrapped in plastic sheeting and stuffed with towels. Initial fears from the police were soon dismissed as an inspection of the car didn't uncover anything sinister - it was just a buried car, and a special one at that! Police were suspicious as to why it was preserved in such a way to safe-guard the car from the elements, they assumed the people responsible for burying it in the first place had aimed to return to it one day.
The story behind the burial was that the Dino was purchased as a gift by a car fanatic for his wife in 1974. A week after buying the car, the couple went to an evening event to find out after that the car was missing. After reporting the Dino stolen to the police, they conducted an unsuccessful search, and four years later they were to find out why they had difficulty tracking it down.
After the car was found, it was given to the insurance company that originally paid-out on a claim the owner made. When trying to find a new buyer, they left the car on display for prospective buyers to make silent bids, however this led to the car to being stripped for part by people coming to see it. Only a few legitimate bids were made and once the new condition of the car was reported to them, many pulled their original offers. This was the last anyone heard about that particular Dino as all traces seemed to be lost. It wasn't registered to any owners clubs, there were no governmental records saying the car was being driven and no one came forward as the owner. That was however until 2012 where the Dino 246 GTS was to re-emerge.
After running a news story on the missing Dino, Jalopnik Editor Mike Spinelli decided to try and find out what happened to the car. When every effort looked to have failed, Spinelli stumbled across a Dino owner by the name of Brian Howard, and as his car sported a licence plate saying Dug Up. Spinelli knew he may have found his man. It was soon to be confirmed that this was actually the buried Dino.
When going to view the car, Spinelli was astounded that it was buried in the ground for 4 years as its condition was immaculate. After purchasing the car for a fraction of its original value, Howard invested a significant amount of money, time and effort into restoring it to its former glory. However, there was only a certain budget to play with and Howard had to save money where he could. After making all of the mechanical repairs, his attention turned to the cosmetics of the car.
He decided to approach an Italian Sports Car bodywork expert and asked him whether he would like to take the restoration of the Dino on as a personal project. This ended up saving Howard a significant amount of money as he was able to get the car up to the desired standard without having to pay the dealership workshop prices. Howard is still the owner to this day, and it's in magnificent condition.
Dino 246 GT for sale at Stratstone
At the start of 2015, Ferrari Wilmslow has been showcasing its prized display car, and it's not a new model. Available for sale is a signature Rosso Chiaro (red) 1972 Dino 246 GT Coupe in outstanding condition. Sitting alongside the likes of the Ferrari 458 Speciale, the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and the Ferrari California, the Dino attracts a very different kind of attention.
Considered as a classic Ferrari, their desirability has increased over time due to the limited number of models available on the market. What makes the Dino at Stratstone even more appealing to potential buyers is because it's one of the 488 Dinos built as a right-hand drive specifically for the UK market.
The Dino has 52,000 miles on it, has a manual gearbox and is equipped with a 2.4L V6 engine. Inside, its two seats have full black leather upholstery, a leather steering wheel and a textured dashboard. The buyer of this car will also receive its full restoration history documentation upon purchase.