As Spring is well and truly here, lighter evenings and warmer days make most of start to think maybe this is the year to buy a convertible and enjoy the summer to come with some open top motoring. So with that thought in mind we thought we would revisit a true Italian classic with timeless style, the Fiat Dino Spider…
In the mid Sixties, Ferrari urgently needed to obtain homologation for the new engine to be installed on its Ferrari Dino 166 Formula 2 racing car. It was a two-litre V6 unit, and at least 500 had to be produced within a short time. This led to the agreement between Ferrari and Fiat which created the Fiat Dino.
The car’s peculiar name has a family history behind it: Dino was the nickname of Enzo Ferrari’s son Alfredo, who made an active contribution to the design of the V6 engine before his premature death from muscular dystrophy. In his son’s memory, Ferrari decided to give the name “Dino” to the engine and all models that used it.
To achieve the production volume required by the FIA international regulation for Formula 2, Ferrari had already decided to use the V6 engine in its own road car, the Dino 206 GT, a mid-engined berlinetta designed by Aldo Brovarone for Pininfarina. The new sports coupé was produced in 1968, but the time needed to build the cars in Maranello, even more than the relative costs, would have meant too long a wait for homologation. Instead the creation of a new, relatively inexpensive car, produced by Fiat, allowed the minimum number of 500 units to be achieved more quickly.
The Ferrari 1987 cc V6 engine used for the Fiat Dino had two overhead camshafts for each cylinder bank, operated by two chains with adjustable stretchers, valves at a transverse angle, aluminium cylinder head and engine block and wet sump (whereas the version used by Ferrari for the Dino 206 had a dry sump), and delivered 160 horsepower at 7500 rpm.
Around the sophisticated Ferrari engine, the Fiat technical office built a conventional car: front engine, five-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive with self-locking differential, front axle with independent wheels, rigid rear axle and disc brakes on all four wheels with brake booster. The coachwork was entrusted to Pininfarina, who designed the spider, presented at the 1966 Turin Motor Show. The following year saw the debut of the 2+2 seater coupé, bodied by Bertone.
The car had considerable commercial success, even more in the coupé than in the spider version, and in 1969 they were both updated with a new 2418 cc engine with cast iron engine block, which produced 180 horsepower at 6600 rpm.
In 1969 the Ferrari-produced Dino underwent a similar evolution, from the 206 into the 246 with an increase in engine size to 2.4 litres (the numeric designation actually indicates the displacement and number of cylinders). A few years later, the Dino 2400 engine was again chosen by a Fiat family brand, Lancia, to equip another legendary car: the Stratos, which was also designed by Bertone and produced from 1973.
The FCA Heritage collection includes a magnificent Fiat Dino Spider 2400: finished in red with a black interior, the car is normally exhibited in Turin at the Heritage Hub in Mirafiori or the Centro Storico Fiat.