An icon from Maranello

Throughout its history, Ferrari has made cars for a variety of reasons – to win races, to outdo its competitors, or to simply show off. The Dino, however, is unique. Named after Enzo Ferrari’s son, Alfredo “Dino” Ferrari, who died in 1956 due to muscular dystrophy at the age of 24, the Dino is part tribute and part experiment, marking a variety of firsts for the famed Italian sports car maker. However, for the first eight years it was in production, the Dino was separated from the core Ferrari brand, offering a lower entry fee paired with a V-6 (and later, V-8) engine mounted in the middle.

Arguably one of greatest (if not the greatest motivation) behind the Dino’s creation was Ferrari’s ambition to make something that could take on the venerable Porsche 911. While the Prancing Horse’s V-12 models were faster overall, they were also significantly more expensive, so the Dino was put forth as a way of pulling in customers looking for an alternative to Stuttgart’s darling.

The result of all these pressures is unquestionably one of the greatest Ferrari models of all time – even though it’s not really a Ferrari.

Continue reading to learn more about the Dino.

History And Background

1969 - 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GT Exterior High Resolution
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The Dino nameplate was first used with the Fiat Dino, a front-engine RWD sports car designed as a homologation special that enabled Ferrari to compete in the Formula 2 racing series.

Later on, Enzo Ferrari played around with the idea of creating a production car with a mid-engine layout. While the layout was commonplace in competition race cars, Lamborghini was the first to use it in a street car with Miura. At first, Enzo considered it too dangerous to use outside the race track, but after seeing how it was received with the Miura, he came around to the idea, justifying the decision with the idea that a low-horsepower V-6 wouldn’t make such a car too much of a handful.

With that, Pininfarina was tapped to create a new mid-engine concept for the 1965 Paris Motor Show. The concept wore a Dino badge, rather than the Prancing Horse, and in 1966, another model that was closer to the final production variant was released.

The first production model out of the gates was the Dino 206 GT. This model saw a limited-production run, and used a naming convention that identified the powerplant used, with the first two digits representing the displacement (2.0-liters) and the last digit representing the number of cylinders (6-cylinder).

The next Dino saw much higher production volume, and was in fact the first high-volume model for Ferrari. This next-gen vehicle was the 246, which replaced the 206 and was first put into production in 1968. However, the 246 wasn’t officially debuted until the Turin Auto Show in November of 1969, at which time production was already in full swing. Like the 206, this model was designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti in Maranello. The 246 got a bigger V-6 engine, while the wheelbase was lengthened by 60 mm (2.4 inches).

The 246 enjoyed a variety of model variants over the years, the first of which was the 246 GT L series. This iteration offered features like an external trunk release, a license plate light mounted to the quarter bumper ends on the tail, headrests mounted to the main bulkhead, front quarter bumpers that stretched into the front intake, and knock-off wheels. The body was made from steel, while the front lid was made from aluminum.

In 1971, the L series gave way to the M series. These got an internal release for the rear trunk, slight updates to the engine and transmission, a five-bolt mounting pattern for the wheels, headrests mounted directly to the seats, and an extra 30 mm (1.2 inches) added to the rear track.

The L series was quite short lived, and later in 1971, the E series was introduced, running until 1974. In addition to changes implemented with the M series, the E series also got new engine and transmission upgrades, plus repositioned door locks, restyled quarter bumpers, reshaped ventilation ducts (more circular, rather than rectangular), a rear license plate light mounted to the rear edge of the trunk lid, and for left-hand drive cars, windshield wipers that were moved to the right from their original position in the center.

In March of 1972, Ferrari introduced the 246 GTS at the Geneva Motor Show, a targa top model as opposed to the 246 GT coupe.

A year later, Ferrari debuted the 308 GT4 2+2. This was Ferrari’s first production model with a mid-mounted V-8 engine. However, it wasn’t officially a Ferrari (that is, there was no Prancing Horse badge) until 1976, at which time it was rebranded under the Ferrari banner.

Exterior

1969 - 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GT Exterior
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Visually, the Dino 206 and 246 are a bit of a throwback to an earlier period of Italian sports car models. The brain behind the design was Leonardo Fioravanti , the same Pininfarina talent that gave us such Ferrari classics as the Daytona, 288 GTO, P5, P6, 365 GT4, 308 GTB, 512 Berlinetta Boxer, and F40.

The mid-engine design lends itself to a long, slender, low-sloping hood line, which looks broad and purposeful, just like that of a racing car.

The lines look handsome, to say the least. The mid-engine design lends itself to a long, slender, low-sloping hood line, which looks broad and purposeful, just like that of a racing car. The headlights are deep set and blend into high fenders that form a wave-like profile. The central intake up front gets chrome bumper elements which are disconnected, allowing the central intake to complete the front end. Slats in the hood complete the racy look.

1969 - 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GT Exterior
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The side incorporates intakes that appear to lead into the rear fenders and engine cover. The roofline gets a classic angle that falls directly into the rear end. Chrome surrounds are used for the windows.

In back, we find a flattened tail and squared-off deck lid. More ventilation slats are in place just behind the curved rear window, which creates a buttressed effect with the hood. More chrome quarter bumpers echo the front design. Quad exhaust tips are located near the ground.

1969 - 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GT Exterior
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Both the 206 and the 246 GT are two-door coupes, whereas the 246 GTS is a targa top past the 1971 model year. Flared wheel arches were also optional on this latter model.

The Dino 308 is a clear break from its predecessors. In addition to an extended wheelbase, the 308 was the product of Bertone, not Pininfarina, a unique development for Ferrari.

The design differences are immediately obvious. Rather than the sultry, smoothed-out lines of the 206 and 246, the 308 uses a highly angular, speed-wedge shape. There are much more rectangular shapes, such as in the black insert in the nose and higher up on the hood, not to mention the rear. You can almost see the automaker’s overall styling evolution between the three models, with the 206 and 246 recalling the past, while the 308 is a nod to the future.

206 GT Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,280 mm (90 Inches)
Length 4,150 mm (163 Inches)
Width 1,700 mm (67 Inches)
Height 1,115 mm (44 Inches)
246 GT and GTS Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,340 mm (92 Inches)
Length 4,235 mm (167 Inches)
Width 1,700 mm (67 Inches)
Height 1,135 mm (45 Inches)
308 GT4 Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,550 mm (100 Inches)
Length 4,300 mm (169 Inches), 4,488 mm U.S.-spec (177 Inches)
Width 1,800 mm (71 Inches)
Height 1,180 mm (46.5 Inches)

Interior

The dash is very driver-centric, with a slew of buttons and toggle switches complementing the large, thin-rimmed steering wheel.

Inside, the Dino uses a somewhat simple layout. The dash is very driver-centric, with a slew of buttons and toggle switches complementing the large, thin-rimmed steering wheel. The gauge cluster is an oval shape, and gets a large selection of info-providing readouts to keep tabs on all the vitals, including a large speedometer on the left, and a large tachometer on the right. The long shifter gets a metal gate, and the seats are deep buckets with sizable side bolsters.

The 206 model was limited to left-hand drive due to its short production cycle. Meanwhile, the 246 was offered with optional seats plucked from the 365 GTB/4 Daytona.

The 308 changed up the interior layout with more rectangular shapes, just like the exterior design. It was also significantly more comfortable, offered greater visibility, had a larger trunk for cargo storage, and of course, offered a back seat, making it the preferred pick for actual cruising.

Drivetrain

1969 - 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GT Exterior High Resolution Drivetrain
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The Dino uses a mid-engine, RWD layout. This was actually considered pretty unorthodox for its time, at least as far as street cars were concerned. While mid-engine cars were commonplace in the world of racing, placing the engine in the middle doesn’t offer much in terms of cabin space, plus it imbues a car with handling characteristics that tend to be unfriendly to novices.

However, with the introduction of the Miura, the cat was let out of the bag.

The Dino came equipped with a V-6, making it cheaper and less likely to get a novice in trouble on the street.

As such, the Dino came equipped with a V-6, making it cheaper and less likely to get a novice in trouble on the street. The choice of a V-6 was also appropriate in that Alfredo Ferrari prompted Enzo to use six-cylinder engines for racing, and even designed a few poweprlants for that very purpose. The V-6 found in the Dino, however, wasn’t actually designed by Alfredo

The first Dino model, the 206 GT, was equipped with a 2.0-liter V-6 engine, the same engine as can be found on the Fiat Dino. This unit offers all-aluminum construction, with the cylinder banks mounted at 65 degrees and double overhead cams. The compression ratio is 9.7:1, and there are four main bearings on the crank. Providing appropriate levels of fuel and air are three Weber carburetors. The 206 GT was also the first Ferrari model to use electronic ignition, which was provided by Magneti Marelli.

Output when new was rated at 160 horsepower at 8,000 rpm (the engine’s redline), and 138 pound-feet at 6,500 rpm. Top speed was rated at 146 mph.

Of course, once fans got a taste for the Dino, they demanded more power. As such, Ferrari released the 246, which equipped a larger, more-powerful 2,418 cc V-6 engine, once again rocking 3 Weber carburetors, plus updated electronic ignition. This engine was also famously used on the Lancia Stratos rally racer. Routing the muscle is a five-speed manual gearbox.

Output when new was rated at 192 horsepower at 7,600 rpm for Euro-spec vehicles, while U.S.-spec variants got 175 horsepower. Acceleration was rated at 5.5 seconds for the 0-to-60 mph sprint.

The 308 GT4 upgrades the Dino to an all-aluminum V-8 powerplant, incorporating cylinder banks angled at 90 degrees, double overhead cams, four Weber carburetors, and an 8.8:1 compression ratio. Displacement comes in at 2,927 cc’s. Output when new was rated at 255 horsepower in Euro-spec variants, while U.S. models got 240 horsepower.

Chassis And Handling

1969 - 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GT Exterior High Resolution
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The 206 GT gets an aluminum body for reduced weight, plus four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes for handling. The 206 is also the first Ferrari to come with direct rack-and-pinion steering. Curb weight when dry is rated at just below a ton at 1,984 pounds.

The 246 that came afterwards replaced the aluminum body components with steel, a move that was intended to cut production costs and drive down the MSRP. It also gained an extra 60 mm in the wheelbase, plus a significant amount of weight. The 246 GT tips the scales at 2,381 pounds, while the GTS targa ups that the 2,426 pounds.

The 308 is the heaviest of the three, coming in at 2,535 pounds. Underneath is a tubular spaceframe, while the four-wheel independent suspension incorporates double wishbones, anti-roll bars, and coaxial shocks. The 308’s handling was also refined with the help of F1 legend Niki Lauda.

Prices

1969 - 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GT Exterior
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Given the wide range of production numbers, the Dino varies widely in price.

The most expensive is the extremely limited 206 GT, of which only 152 examples were built. Pricing here starts at just below $300,000, and can go as high at $850,000 at auction.

Next is the 246, which is a little less rare, but still quite expensive. Roughly 2,300 246 GT’s were built, while roughly 1,250 GTS’ were built, making for a total run of 3,550 units. Pricing when new was about $14,000, but now, the 246 fetches between $290,000 and $450,000 at auction.

Finally, there’s the 308, of which 2,800 units were created. These are considered the least desirable of the three, but still command upwards of $155,000.

Competition

1975 - 1989 Porsche 911

1975 - 1989 Porsche 911 (930)
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1975 - 1989 Porsche 911 (930)
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When the Dino was released, it’s primary competitor was the Porsche 911, considered a more affordable European sports car compared to the products from Maranello. These days, the market for air-cooled 911’s has exploded, and if you find one at auction, expect to pay through the nose to take it home.

Read our full review on the 1975 - 1989 Porsche 911.

1966 - 1969 Lamborghini Miura

1966 - 1969 Lamborghini Miura High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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1966 - 1969 Lamborghini Miura High Resolution Exterior
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The Miura was the first to break into the mid-engine phenomenon so common amongst top-shelf performance cars these days, and as such, it’s known as the world’s first supercar. These days, individual examples have gone deep into the seven-figure price range at auction.

Read our full review on the 1966 - 1969 Lamborghini Miura.

Conclusion

1969 - 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GT Exterior High Resolution
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The Dino is a real icon for Ferrari, including both the svelte and sexy 206/246 models, and the more modern 308. With a slew of firsts, from electronic ignition, to the mid-mounted V-6 and V-8 powerplants, to the large-scale production numbers, the model named after Enzo’s son helped to usher in a more accessible age for the Prancing Horse – even if getting one of these machines now takes a fortune.

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    • * Slightly underpowered
    • * Prohibitively expensive at auction now
    • * No V-12 wail
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