In the mid 1950s, Ferrari produced a stunning little V6 engine in order to compete in Formula 2 racing, designed by Vittorio Jano and Enzo Ferrari’s son, Dino.
Sadly, in 1956, soon after the engine’s creation, Dino Ferrari passed away. In remembrance, Ferrari thereafter named all cars fitted with this V6 engine “Dino”.
Almost ten years later, there was a change in the rules of Formula 2 racing, requiring the engines of the cars taking part in this class to have a production run of at least five hundred in order for it to be homologated.
At the time Ferrari felt that they were unable to produce and sell a series of cars with this engine, but wanted to continue participating in Formula 2. So, Ferrari approached Fiat with a proposition to build a series of cars utilising the V6 Dino engine. The idea was that Ferrari and Fiat would produce their own cars under the new marque of Dino. These cars were originally not going to bear the badges of their respective parents, and indeed the Ferrari produced 206s all left the factory without the famous prancing pony. However, Fiat felt their other production cars would benefit from the association, and their cars retained the Fiat badge.
Thus the Fiat Dino was born. Introduced in 1966 at the Turin Motor Show, the Fait Dino Spider was quite a head turner. Designed and built by Pininfarina, the legendary Italian design house and coachbuilder, it had a distinctive nose, beautiful flowing lines, sexy curves and a fashionable boat tail rear end. And, perhaps more importantly, underneath the bonnet it had Ferrari’s own Dino V6 2 litre engine.
Compared to Ferrari’s own Dino, the 206, it was less striking, but the 206 was a car designed to race. The Fiat Dino Spider was a car to drive along winding Alpine roads with a hamper in the boot.
Shortly after, at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show, Fiat unveiled the Fiat Dino Coupe. This time the Dino was designed and built by Bertone, another renowned coachbuilder, and sported more understated, elegant lines. It was a practical four seater with a luxurious and well laid out interior.
As Ferrari upgraded the race engine on their 206 to a 2.4 litre (making it the Dino 246) the Fiats were upgraded too, with both the spider and the coupe being fitted with the 2.4 litre engine. These 2.4 litre Fiats were produced alongside the Ferraris at Marenello, built on the same production lines and assembled by the same Ferrari engineers. These Fiat Dinos then were Ferarris in all but name.
These days the Fiat Dino Spider is certainly less expensive than the Ferrari 206 or 246 Dino, and the Coupe even more so. Of course there are rarer, more expensive examples, such as the 2.4 litre Spider, of which only 424 were made, but a 2.4 liter Coupe is easier to find. A good example can cost as little as £12,500.
Some consider the Fiat Dino to be a poor man’s Ferrari, but if I could drive a car designed by one of Italy’s finest coachworks, with a genuine piece of automotive history under the bonnet, I would consider myself a very rich man indeed.