The Old Friends I found in a Ferrari Dino glovebox

“An early ’70s Dino 246GT is a car you’d enjoy taking on holiday or simply to the pub”

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

It is probably true that three of my five favourite road cars are Ferraris. Naturally I can’t afford any of them but even if I could, I’d probably not have either an F40 or a LaFerrari because both break the one rule by which, after far too many lessons learned the hard way, all my car buying decisions are now governed. Know what you’re going to do with it.

But a Dino, a little early ’70s 246GT? I know exactly what I’d do with that, which is pretty much everything. Compact yet surprisingly usable thanks to its big boot, with performance and handling you can exploit in public, it’s a car you’d enjoy whether taking it on holiday or simply to the pub.

There is another reason these cars are close to my heart because a Dino was the first Ferrari in which I travelled. What’s more it belonged to my father. Briefly.

He’d always had this thing about buying a new Ferrari before he was 40 and with months on the clock remaining, managed to scrape enough together to buy a red Dino in March 1972. Months later the world suffered one of its periodic financial spasms, we lost everything bar the house and that was that. Aged six, I probably only travelled in it a couple of times, but it was enough to light a Ferrari-themed fire within me that’s never really gone out.

I mention this now because in the last month I’ve been back behind the wheel of a Dino. But not AN Other Dino. The same one. My father’s car. The car is unrestored and save a respray and consumables aside, it is as it was when I last saw it 49 years ago. Which, when you think about that period of time and the Dino’s reputation for converting itself into iron oxide, is fairly remarkable. But it’s all down to its second owner, who kept it for 37 years, used it properly including doing sprints and hillclimbs, but clearly maintaining it fastidiously.

The car was for sale at Girardo & Co, and Max Girardo kindly suggested I take it for a run up the road. I wasn’t sure. I’ve driven other Dinos. It seemed unlikely one that had escaped the restorer’s knife for so long would measure up. And the last thing I wanted to find was a car that looked great but was a poor shadow of its former self. Then again, how could I say no?

I couldn’t. And it turned out to be the best Dino I’ve driven, with the strongest engine, smoothest gearchange and a rattle-free chassis that still felt entirely on top of its game. For all sorts of reasons, both subjective and objective, I was a bit stunned by it. But not as stunned as I was when I opened the glovebox and found the same eight-track cassette I’d last listened to in this very car almost half a century ago. Don’t ask how I remembered it, my mind just has a curious facility for retaining what turned out in this rare case to be only apparently useless information.

I left and drove home trying to think of some way to raise the steam to buy it, but I couldn’t come close. So I bought a Caterham instead, but that’s another story for another column.

“I drove home trying to think of a  way to raise the steam to buy it”

But I wasn’t left entirely bereft. Three days later a FedEx van pulled up containing a small parcel and a handwritten note from Max saying, “We thought this was part of Frankel family treasure and will mean more to you than anyone else.” A class move if ever there were one. So I may not have my father’s Dino, but I do at least have his Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits eight-track cassette. All I need now is a machine on which to play the bloody thing…


I have also spent some time this month behind the Bakelite wheel of the very first of Bentley’s run of continuation ‘Blowers’, the dozen recreations of Sir Henry Birkin’s Team Car No2 supercharged 4 ½-litre Bentley. Except this isn’t one of the 12, but the so-called ‘Car Zero’ prototype on which all the development will be done and which will thereafter remain in Crewe. What was fascinating about it – apart from the rather obvious fact that it is a Blower Bentley – is that I got in it at a very early stage of its development and before hardly any – let alone all – of its bugs had been ironed out.

It is easy to tell how good the cars are going to be because the mighty engine felt stronger even than that in the original No2 (whose boost pressure is kept limited for eminently sensible reasons), and its chassis rigid and predictable, at least by the standards of the ironmongery that was possible over 90 years ago. But there were lots of details with how the clutch, throttle, brakes and gearshift behaved which would need attention, and there was very little surprise in that, given that almost 2000 new parts have had to come together to make it possible.

In fact I was quite glad it was so raw because it makes me think how much I’d enjoy being the driver who worked with a team of engineers to progress it from where it is to where it needs to be in order to provide a reliable template for the customer cars.

Indeed it briefly opened up a vision of a whole new career path for me as a development driver. I’d probably not be much good at new cars because I don’t care enough about the qualities that are important to someone buying a mid-sized crossover hybrid, but for recreated and resto-modded old cars? So long as I could work with people who knew how to put right what I said was wrong with the car, I’d like to think I could make a contribution somewhere. The chances of this happening? Somewhere between hardly any and none whatsoever. But it would be fun to try.


A former editor of Motor Sport, Andrew splits his time between testing the latest road cars and racing (mostly) historic machinery
Follow Andrew on Twitter @Andrew_Frankel