Dino harbour

Ferrari Dino: not a simply Ferrari, but a memorial to a lost son


More than just a car

In 1956, a very rare genetic disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy took the life of a talented young man of 24 years old, about to graduate in mechanical engineering. His name was Alfredo, called Dino by everyone, and he was the eldest son of Enzo Ferrari.

In 1952, Dino started working on the engine design of his family business’s cars. Shortly before he died, Dino had worked on an engine design to be mounted in a compact berlinetta.

Dino’s death caused terrible grief for Enzo Ferrari. He moved all Dino’s designs to his second house at the Fiorano racetrack, which from that moment became his real home.

Ten years later the project of the Ferrari Dino 206, began with the new berlinetta unveiled in 1967. The name Ferrari did not appear anywhere, either on the bodywork or inside: only “DINO” in italics, on a yellow background.

As was tradition, the design was entrusted to Pininfarina, while the Scaglietti body shop in Modena manufactured it. The 2.0-litre V6 was precisely the one designed by Dino Ferrari a year before his death and was so durable that, in its different evolutions, was used in Ferraris until the mid-1980s.

The Dino 206 wasn’t really appreciated by the Ferrari’s clients of the time. In particular, Ferrari’s most faithful customers didn’t understand the absence of the Ferrari logo, the ‘Cavallino Rampante’, from the bodywork and from the interior. This was the main reason of the car’s limited success: only 152 units were manufactured up to 1969.

I had the opportunity to have a brief drive in one at an Italian classic car meeting in Switzerland, the Passione Engadina, a classic car regularity race across beautiful alps passes.

It was the first time I saw one of the first Ferrari Dinos in the metal and I immediately fell in love. In my honest opinion it’s one of the most beautiful Ferrari Berlinettas ever made.

You sit in it a few centimetres from the ground, you have the name Dino with yellow background on the steering wheel in front of you, remembering how special and rare this car is.

The 180hp V6 designed by Dino Ferrari has a real Ferrari sound once you start the engine.

The Dino is light and you don’t need much power to move it. The bodywork is all aluminium made with race car-like weight distribution providing perfectly balanced on-road behaviour.

Gears are selected using a piece of art: the Ferrari grille transmission. The Dino has five gears with the fifth, quite short I have to say, so that the engine is always working at high rpm and you can just have fun to drive and appreciate how well balanced is the car on Swiss alps pass corners.

My only disappointment was in the seats. You have always the impression to be lying down too much, but it’s something you gradually forget as you view the two rounded front wings, like on the prototypes of that time, or the vertical, small rear window.

In 1969, just two years later, Ferrari presented an evolution of the 206 GT, the 246 GT. It had an increased capacity of 2,400 cc and 195hp. The bodywork was 90mm longer, and this time completely made of steel, making it 200kg heavier. However, this didn’t impair the performance, given the increase in power.

Thanks to the 246 GT, the Dino model won the heart of sports cars fans and, over the years, it would be made in three series and a total of 3741 manufactured units.

The Dino might not wear the Ferrari badge, but the entire car is truly special to drive and is a real Ferrari, not to mention a precious memorial to Enzo’s lost son.