Featured: Ferrari’s Tragic Son Inspired the Beautiful Dino 246

Ferrari’s Tragic Son Inspired the Beautiful Dino 246

By Alan Franklin
June 24, 2013
13 comments

My list of favorite cars could fill a dozen pages of college rule, sometimes more, depending on the particularities of my mood on any given day—yesterday, for example, I was momentarily obsessed with the idea of Citroën Mehari ownership, a concept whose clownish ridiculousness is now, with the dawn of a new day, readily apparent to me. Yep, today what I’m hankering for is a tulipwood Hispano Suiza boattail roadster replica with a 427 cammer Ford, which is far less silly.

Among this fluctuating catalog of madness, though, is a static inventory of machines that have earned their way into my heart via their beauty of form and engineering, these far more noble attributes unaffected by my frequent, temporary bouts with automotive insanity—novelties are fun, but classics never lose their core appeal. High atop this personal list of “all-time” cars is the Dino 246, a Ferrari in part and a legend in whole.

Alfredo Ferrari, first son of Enzo, was born in Modena in the first month of 1932. So touched was Ferrari by little Dino’s arrival that he immediately swore off the physical task of driving competitively, which he was still deeply involved with under the banner of his Scuderia Ferrari, Alfa Romeo’s factory racing team of the era. After many successful years in this role, Enzo would leave under a cloud after a 1939 falling out with management, before founding Ferrari S.p.A. around the time of Dino’s 15th birthday in 1947.

Long before family business was family empire, Enzo intended for his son to one day succeed him as Il Commendatore of Ferrari, and began grooming him to do so from a very young age. Dino attented the finest schools in Europe with a strong focus on industrial finance, broader economics, and of course, engineering. It quickly became apparent, however, that Dino was not well, and by the time he had completed only two years of technical school he was forced to withdraw for health reasons—this never stopped his father from calling him his “engineer son”, however.

Though his exact level of involvement is disputed, Dino is said to have had a hand in several key Ferrari designs, notable the 750 Monza and several small-capacity racing V6s. At the tragically young age of 24, Dino fell victim to what is now known as Muscular Dystrophy, passing away in June of 1956. Enzo was devastated, as was his wife Laura, with whom he never quite reconciled afterwards. The Dino series of racing cars, as well as the 206/246 and their successors were named in honor of his departed son.

Released in 1968, and with only 152 every built, the 206 GT was the first road-going Dino. As a stand-alone brand, Dino was initially intended for Ferrari-designed cars with less than twelve cylinders, which at the time was seen by Enzo as an essential part of his brand’s DNA. Though technically not a Ferrari, the 206 was nonetheless Maranello’s first mid-engined road car. Its replacement would soon add “first mass-produced car” to the list of the brand’s milestones.

Built from 1969-1974 in much greater numbers, nearly 25 times as many 246s were made compared to its smaller-engined older brother. Building upon the theme laid by the 206, the 246 was compact, light, lithe, and packed with the period’s most cutting-edge technology; four wheel disc brakes, fully independent suspension at all corners, and a high-revving, twin cam per bank 2.4 liter V6 making just under 200 HP in European spec, with about twenty less for the American market due to primitive smog equipment. Like the 206 which pioneered it, the 246 retained electronic ignition by Magnet Marelli.

Both cars looked quite similar, which is to say drop-dead gorgeous. The 246 was roughly 5-10% larger in most dimensions, though still by no means a large car. Styled by Pininfarina, their sensuous, organic curves may have been of a style typical of the time, but the perfection of their execution was anything but. Graceful forms and elegant detailing are not uncommon features among the kind of rare and exotic classics we all lust for, but it’s very rare for these words to describe a machine in its entirety—a 246, particularly in coupe form, is visual perfection from every angle.

I’ve not had the pleasure of driving one, and with prices rising exponentially over the past few years, I may never, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about it. I’ve read varying, conflicting accounts of how a 246 feels in the hands, feet, and butt of a driver—some claiming the car to be a reluctant dance partner—all heavy, lifeless steering, understeer snapping into roll oversteer, and gutless low-end power delivery, while others have written the exact opposite of these things, proclaiming the second-ever Dino to be a driving revelation… but here’s how it goes down in my imagination:

It steers with alacrity, the small leather rim fizzing with friendly conversation, the little bent six revving with a happy, inertia-free vigor; clutch, brakes, and throttle all feel carefully weighted and delicately light of touch, the open-gated five speed equally deft and precise. I close my eyes and feel the aplomb with which it rides the road, like a Silver Cloud with slightly seized dampers or a single flat tire, its cornering balance neutral and easily manipulated by an accurate and immediately responsive throttle.

The sound, in keeping with the shape it emanates from, is heavenly—two indisputable facts to go along with a lot of conjecture, both in and of themselves valid reasons for the 246’s greatness, even if they actually do drive like a wet dog.

Photo Sources: e-carpictures.com, carstyling.ru, haris300.tumblr.com, boldride.com, ferraricollection.eu, ebay.com, carbodydesign.comfindagrave.com

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13 Comments on "Ferrari’s Tragic Son Inspired the Beautiful Dino 246"

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Ian Paul
Ian Paul
The 246GT is quite a beautiful car, however its racing cousin the 206 (I think thats the right no.??) is incredibly beautiful mainly because its rear is better proportioned and the three quarter view of the car is joyously harmonious. Just a personal opinion, however I log onto Petrolicious every week in the hope that one day one will appear in one of your excellent videos, preferably at that wonderful looking race track in the desert where you featured the 312? I am always amazed some people regard the Dino range as somehow inferior, surely a father would would only… Read more »
Bruno di Prenda
Bruno di Prenda

The writer hasn’t even ever driven one?1 What kind of BS amatuer review is this?! And you dug this up and called it gold?! It’s something brown and stinky.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo

A bit harsh, Bruno. This isn’t a review of how the Dino drives, rather a history lesson. One does not have to live history to tell it. The writer does have a flight of fancy at the end but makes it clear he is daydreaming. Nothing wrong with that.

Paul Glyde
Paul Glyde

Hi Steve, Hi Francois, Hi Andrew,
I’m lucky in owning a Ferrari Mondial. Your comments are pretty accurate. Mondials are a V8 powered, beautifully chassis’d pleasure to drive and their looks are maturing with age. The rise in value is just a bonus.

Baskingshark
Baskingshark

@Steve Fitz, go for it, Mondials look good to me! 80’s nostalgia FTW.

Steve Jain
Steve Jain

Btw, I honestly believe this is in the top 3 Ferrari models of all time…probably also in my top 5 car designs from any maker overall. If you have never seen one in person, trust me every angle is even better in person.

Steve Jain
Steve Jain

So want one of these.sadly, if I sold my 356, 993 and Alfa I still don’t think I could afford one 🙁

Michael Corleone
Michael Corleone

The Mondial will never be considered a classic, it’s focus was on practicality and being the entry level Ferrari, much like the California today. I consider, along with many other enthusiasts, both cars to be nothing but poser Ferraris.

That said, the Dino is an absolutely beautiful car, with the story behind it making it even more special.

Francois Bozonnet
Francois Bozonnet

maybe it will not be a classic like 308, 246 or other Enzo’s era car, but the value of the mondial has increased by more than 50\% during the last year. it’s impossible to find in europe a good car (a 3.2 coupe) for less than 25k€ today as it was possible last year.
and if you have the possibility to try one, you will find some magical thing inside…It’s a real Ferrari, not a F40, not a GTO but the mondial deserve to be loved…

Stephen Fitzgerald
Stephen Fitzgerald

Interesting how these cars were so undesirable not long ago and now they are the bee’s knees. I think they are beautiful and deserving for the record.

Makes me wonder if I should buy a Mondial. Not loved these days but what will the lens of 20 years do to it’s value?

Baskingshark
Baskingshark

Hmmm, how about that? I never knew there were any size/design differences between the 206 and the 246, I thought they had the same shell with different engines.

What you really need is a tulipwod Hispano replica with a 427 built on a Citren Mehari platform.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

206 has an alloy body, but the 246 used a steel body for ease of manufacture

Johannes Roussel
Johannes Roussel

Also at the very top of my list. Mid engined V6, timeless italian design, what else would you want ? …

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