Ferrari glamour for a Fiat price tag … for now
Glamorous convertible body by Pininfarina. Engine by Ferrari. Built on the Maranello production line. And yours for a relatively modest six-figure sum. Yes, you read the last bit correctly…
OK, so there’s a Fiat badge on the nose. But for about a tenth of what you’d pay for a Ferrari spider of equivalent ’60s vintage the Fiat Dino Spider looks like a conspicuous bargain. That may not last forever though, this long-undervalued Italian beauty recently topping a list of the fastest appreciating classic cars and finally being recognised as the equal of its more glamorous contemporary rivals.
Because it was only ever built in left-hand drive it is better known in Europe and the US, but the Dino nonetheless attracted a small but appreciative audience here in the UK. In particular it appealed to knowledgeable buyers who understood they were basically getting Ferrari engineering and performance for Fiat money. And it came with a fascinating back story to boot.
The only reason the Dino exists is due to Ferrari needing Fiat’s help to build the 500 road car engines a year required to homologate the V6 for F2. In that sense Maranello ‘gifted’ its engine, Turin returning the favour with production facilities and scale that the 1960s Ferrari factory couldn’t hope to match.
All it needed was a car. Bertone designed the coupé and Pininfarina the Spider and both shared the 2.0-litre V6 with the Dino-badged 206 GT. 1967 saw the motor upgraded to a 2.4 in line with the Dino 246, now with an iron block and improved mid-range torque. The Fiat Dino also gained independent rear suspension and a new dog-leg ZF five-speed gearbox, the upgrades greatly helping driveability and performance.
Later Dino 2400s like the car pictured were built on the Maranello line alongside their better-known Ferrari brothers, underlining quite how close a spiritual connection they really shared. And those in the know have always appreciated the fact the Ferrari heart gave the Dino a character and turn of speed perhaps unexpected in a car bearing the Fiat name.
Price new: circa £5000 in 1972 Price now: £150,000-plus Rivals: Mercedes-Benz ‘Pagoda’ SL, Maserati Mistral, Jaguar E-type Heritage: Ferrari-engined Spider and coupé that helped homologate the Dino V6 motor and gifted Fiat an exotic GT in the process
SPEAKING TO GRAEME HUNT
The classic car dealer and two-time Fiat Dino owner on a forgotten gem
I’ve always loved them – I had a Coupé and a Spider in the ’80s, both 2.0-litre versions. The 2.4 is a better car and actually more pleasant to drive than a 246 GT because of the engine layout. If they’re well set up they’re fabulous. The engine is lovely, the noise is glorious and it’s a much more exciting car to drive up an Alpine pass than, say, a Mercedes Pagoda SL and rarer than an E-Type – turn up to a classic event in one and people will stop and stare. In the past they didn’t have the value to justify spending a lot of money on them so a lot were simply kept on the road but the owner of the car we have for sale ran it alongside various Ferraris and looked after it the same way.