Best of both worlds: A Ferrari V8-powered Dino
Photography by: Jayson Fong
The Dino name has always had an interesting place among Ferrari purists, but as the car has aged, it is evident that any stigma it once wore has worn away.
Today, market values for the Dino are often dictated by how well they have been restored and how true to the original they are. This point is clearly something that does not faze Kevin O’Rourke, owner of Surrey-based Ferrari restoration experts Mototechnique, and owner of the one of a kind Dino 246 GTS that sat quietly in front of me.
Kevin tells me he has spent an entire career as what he calls a ‘copyist’, concerned only with reproducing originality into classic cars. Working on his own car allowed a refreshing opportunity to create a unique, bold and creative interpretation of the Dino, one that is undoubtedly a personal treasure of his—and rightfully so. At first glance, this particular Dino is clearly not fussed with winning the local concours.
With a deep candy red that Kevin produced himself, large 18”wheels in rose gold with matching brakes from an F360, this car is anything but traditional. Rounding over to the engine cover, Kevin pointed out a detail that was purely functional and he was particularly fond of: a tiny bulge in the cover subtly hinted at what lay below, standing out from an otherwise straight line that had been originally penned by Pininfarina.
As we lifted the lid, unveiling the heart, I couldn’t help saying “wow” out loud. Sitting transversely in place of the Dino’s standard 2.4-litre V6 was a Ferrari 3.2-litre V8, an instant cure to the power issue of the standard engine that many Dino enthusiasts have traditionally “learned to accept”.
The engine had been inherited from the Dino’s younger sibling, a 328, along with its transmission to bring the potential of the Dino to more modern times. Meanwhile, induction duties are taken care of by throttle bodies courtesy of a 355 and DTA ECU, with cool induction air flowing in through a stunning, custom-made carbon fibre air box that was captivating to look at.
As sunlight trickled into the workshop, we realised it was time to hit the road, and I couldn’t have been more excited. As I lowering myself into the passenger seat, Kevin keyed the ignition and started the engine as easily and effortlessly as a modern car. A pleasant surprise compared to the often painful procedure of misfires that are commonly associated with aged cars. This would only be a good afternoon…
On road, Kevin took it easy, letting the engine come up to temperature. Shifting at normal revs, the V8 was easily heard making its sounds behind my head, but I was thankful for the extensive sound deadening that had been installed to keep it reasonable. Kevin recounted his initial shakedown trip after the car’s completion to Austria without it: it had been very loud.
Coincidentally, it was then that we reached a nice stretch of road and I experienced the 300 horsepower V8 at full song, which was nothing short of glorious. As the revs built up, the slight burble crescendoed into a smooth note that held—just before a slick smooth gear change when it started all over again.
When we made our stop for photos, the spyder roof came off, allowing the sun to flood the interior with light. Once an overlooked part in car design, Kevin wanted something that was comfortable and modern since it would be the place he spent the most time. There was nobody better to send the car to be reupholstered than his son, Rob O’Rourke of O’Rourke Coachtrimmers, and the result speaks for itself. The attention to detail in the stitching and fitment of every part makes it is very possible that the interior is far more resolved than it had ever been before. Additionally, a fully engaged roll cage is bolted to the chassis to solve any torsional rigidity issues. Impressively, I noticed that the dashboard had been modified to wrap around the frame, creating a more integrated aesthetic.
As we headed back towards the workshop in the comfort of a modern classic, I asked about the future plans for the car; stiffer anti roll bars, better spec tyres and electric power steering were next on the list, to create an even more balanced package. Despite these changes, Kevin noted that all the original Dino parts had been kept in order to restore the car back to its original condition if ever needed. With 11 years of his spare time going into the build so far, Kevin’s journey to create his perfect Dino that blends the best of the past with the comforts of today will continue.
Although some connoisseurs of the classic car world may shake their heads disapprovingly at the thought of this car, they would be wrong in thinking that the spirit of the Dino has been lost. Kevin’s Dino more than retains the importance of the driving experience that it was originally built upon—the only difference is that now it’s been refined to become one man’s perfect car.