Featured: Celebrating The Dino's 50th Birthday With Eric Clapton's Beautiful Contraption

Celebrating The Dino’s 50th Birthday With Eric Clapton’s Beautiful Contraption

By Minol Patrice
September 13, 2018

Photography by Patrice Minol

As you may know (especially if you’ve been keeping up with Petrolicious), this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Dino, the famous “not-a-Ferrari” that was named as a tribute to Alfredo “Alfredino” Ferrari, Enzo’s tragic son who advocated and to an extent helped out in the development of V6 engines for the Prancing Horse competition cars. After his untimely death, his father gave the V6 road and race cars his nickname “Dino.”

The production cars were aimed at a cheaper entry point into Ferrari ownership, a smaller and more affordable option than the large front-engined V12 GTs they were known for. The Dino 206 legacy has only improved with  age though, and the transverse mid-engine design with the wraparound rear of the cabin became a cornerstone of Ferrari and Pininfarina design in the decades that followed, the echoes of which are still audible today.

Whatever the scope of its influence is, and no matter how fast the new stuff may be, the original Dinos are the epitome of the design. The proportions are perfectly compact, and yet nothing feels truncated, and there are long unbroken flows of curves that can be traced around the bodywork as if it were a much larger machine. The design is quite soft despite a few distinct edges (mainly around the rear of the cabin), and when equipped with covered headlights they are every bit as stunning as its cousins that were able to keep the name “Ferrari” on their badging.

In honor of the car’s milestone birthday, a group of them recently assembled on the grounds of Blenheim Palace for a royal celebration in the UK. The event that it was a part of— Salon Privé—was all well and good, but I spent most of the time with the rows of Dinos. There were some exquisite restorations, some original preservations, but there was one in particular that I was interested in. It is a 1968 206 GT, chassis number 00152, claiming to be the first of only five examples of lefthand-drive 206s to come into the UK. That’s not the juicy bit though, that would be the person who owned it.

Eric Clapton, the only guitarist who’s ever been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three separate times. He’s quite good at playing his instrument you might say, and he clearly has some good taste in automobiles. He reportedly purchased the car in May of 1970 for a princely sum of £700. Apparently, it was the very first car he ever purchased. Later on, after a full restoration, the 1968 “Clapton 206 GT” also known as “Layla,” was granted its Ferrari Classiche certification in 2016. The car took home the “Coup de Coeur” award at Salon Privé.

Clapton’s 206 GT was the standout for me, but the eight other Dinos in attendance were not to be brushed off either. At day’s end, the 1970 246 GT in stunning Rosso Chiaro which won “Best in Class” in the “50 Years of the Dino” category, and a 1973 246 GTS which has been under the same ownership for the last 40 years won “Best in Class” in the preservation category.

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dcallum1RockdadMatthew LangeDennis White Recent comment authors
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Perhaps this was Clapton’s first new car. He owned at least one other car before this a large American convertible a Cadillac Fleetwood, possibly another Ferrari a 365GTC purchased from Harrison that he taught himself how to drive with and a psychedelic Mini a gift from George.

Dennis White
Dennis White

Hmm… didn’t Eric also fall in love with George’s wife?

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Indeed and married her although she didn’t leave Harrison for Clapton, she was with Ronnie Wood in between! Clapton and Harrison stayed friends despite this too.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Interesting I always understood that Clapton’s first Ferrari was a 365GTC which he brought after falling in love with his friend George Harrison’s example. However I believe that quite a few of Clapton’s cars were not registered in his name but were registered with his manager instead so maybe the Dino was the first one registered in his name? That was certainly the case with a 275GTB4 that my Dad brought in the 80’s. Dad brought it from the mechanic who looked after the Daytona but also looked after all of Clapton and Mick Jagger’s cars. The mechanic had apparently… Read more »


Great cars, great stories.