Ferrari Dino Buying Guide

As the first in a long line of ‘junior’ models from Maranello, the sublime Dino is far more than a very pretty face – but you’ll have to buy wisely…

How much to pay

• Project £150,000-200,000 • Good £250,000-350,000 • Concours £350,000-425,000 •

Overview

Practicality ★★
Running costs ★★
Spares ★★★
DIY friendly ★★★
Investment ★★★★
Desirability ★★★★

Launched with the intention of being a more affordable member of the Ferrari road-car family, the Dino formed a little sub-brand all of its own. As such, there were no Prancing Horses to be found – the badge simply read ‘Dino’, and not until the V8-engined Dino 308 GT4 replaced the 246 GT was the junior model awarded full Ferrari status.

The Dino – first seen as a prototype in 1965 before being launched as the 2-litre 206 GT – was certainly a radical departure for a Maranello road car, thanks mostly to its transverse V6 mounted amidships. But let’s not pretend Ferrari didn’t have any form in that respect. Its sports-prototypes had been mid-engined since 1963, and its V6s enjoyed great success in Formula 1 and Formula 2.

It was the engine, of course, that gave the car its moniker. Named for Enzo’s late son, the Dino V6 started life during the 1950s, and its road-car derivatives would also find a home in the Fiat Dino and Lancia Stratos.

Beautiful to look at and fabulous to drive, the Dino has been through its ups and downs in terms of its place in the Ferrari stable, but it’s now recognised as a bona fide blue-chip collectible.

Your AutoClassics Ferrari Dino inspection checklist

Engine

The 206 used an all-alloy, 65-degree, 1987cc V6 with dual camshafts per bank and a trio of Weber carburettors. After only 152 were built, though, the 206 was replaced by the 2418cc 246 GT. The later car used an iron block – a bonus in terms of durability, if not weight – but retained the alloy heads.

It’s a complex but robust little engine that requires fastidious servicing. Look for oil changes every 3000 miles and regular attention to valve clearances, which is vital to the health of the valves and the camshafts. They’re adjusted via a shim system: early 2-litre engines require camshaft removal to change the shim; later units, and all 2.4-litre engines, feature a slightly more user-friendly set-up that enables you to do it with the camshafts in place.

Listen carefully for untoward noises when the engine is cold, and check for excessive smoke from the exhaust. Keep an eye on the oil pressure, too – it can be alarmingly low at a warm idle, but that’s generally OK as long as it comes up with some revs. The sender can be unreliable as well, resulting in a low reading. The Magneti Marelli Dinoplex electronic ignition can be another weak point.

The two biggest enemies of the V6 are a lack of use and a lack of proper servicing. You’ll want to see a hefty file of bills for the latter.

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Gearbox

Apart from coming with the usual caveats about letting it properly warm up – and generally avoiding second gear until it has – the five-speed transmission is sweet shifting and reliable. It won’t stand for abuse when cold, though, and the supply of major components can be a problem. However, bearings and seals are readily available.

Suspension and brakes

Most of the joy in driving a Dino is to be found in its handling and steering. A good car should offer exquisite balance and feedback, with no hint of play or sloppiness anywhere in the system. Be wary of a Dino that doesn’t handle sweetly or track in a straight line.

The suspension set-up uses double wishbones, tubular dampers and coil springs, and there’s an anti-roll bar at each end. It’s possible to buy springs that are firmer but which retain the standard ride height. When Ferrari got everything so spot-on to begin with, though, you’d have to wonder whether or not it’d be worth it.

Braking is by ventilated discs all round.

Bodywork

Here’s where the biggest problems are to be found. While the 206 featured aluminium body panels, the 246 used steel. Terrible steel, to be precise, and very little was done to protect it when the cars were originally built.

Rust therefore began to take hold very early in the Dino’s life, and the condition of the bodywork and oval-section tubular chassis should still be your number-one concern.

The box-section sills can be particularly vulnerable, and there are horror stories of specialists cutting into a sill only to find the remains of two or three previous ones underneath. In the days when these cars weren’t worth anywhere near what they are now, repairs and restorations might not have been carried out to the highest of standards.

Basically, check everywhere, particularly the bottom half of the car. And without doubt you should then get a specialist to check everywhere, too. Inspect the panel fit – especially of the bootlid and the gap between the doors and the wings – and get the car up in the air so that you can look underneath.

A proper restoration will be hugely expensive. Dinos were hand finished at Scaglietti when new, and they need skilled craftsmen now if you’re to achieve the required results.

Interior

In the cockpit, make sure that everything is there and that it all works correctly. Trim parts can be difficult to replace, and the interior electrics don’t have the best reputation. Veglia gauges were original fitment – check that they’re all reading as they should, and don’t be surprised to find non-standard replacements.

When new, most Dinos featured vinyl seats, but many have been retrimmed in leather. If you are still looking at vinyl, make sure that it’s not coming apart at the seams. Vinyl was also used for the door panels and rear bulkhead, while the 246’s dash is topped with a suede-like material. This is prone to fading but easily replaced.

Check that the electric windows operate at a reasonable speed, and bear in mind that UK cars weren’t offered with the air-conditioning fitted elsewhere.

History

  • 1968: Dino 206 GT launched with 2-litre all-alloy engine and aluminium body panels.
  • 1969: 206 GT is replaced by the 2.4-litre 246 GT, which has an iron-block engine and steel bodywork.
  • 1972: Targa-topped GTS introduced.
  • 1974: Production ends after 4060 of all types have been built.

AutoClassics says…

In the late 1980s, Dinos peaked at £15,000, but a few years earlier they’d been worth a fraction of that, and prices dropped again when the economy slumped in the 1990s. During the early years of the new millennium, they could be anywhere between £30,000 and £70,000, but those days are long gone.

Ten years later, they were firmly into six-figure territory, and now you need to be thinking of £300,000-400,000 for the best 246 GT. The much rarer 206 is worth significantly more.

The late-spec ‘chairs and flares’ model is much sought after, and is so called because of its flared wheelarches – housing wider Campagnolo rims – and Daytona-style seats. Right-hand-drive production started in 1970; only 488 GTs and 235 GTSs were officially imported to the UK.

Originality and history are all-important in the Dino world. It’s so easy to get seduced by those graceful lines, but don’t be. Get a specialist to thoroughly inspect any potential purchase, and make sure the car has a rock-solid history file.

Specifications

Dino 206 GT
  Power 180bhp
  Top speed 140mph
  0-60mph 7.5sec
  Economy 15mpg

Dino 246 GT
  Power 195bhp
  Top speed 148mph
  0-60mph 7.1sec
  Economy 16-22mpg

Picture courtesy of Ferrari Media UK

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