Featured: Ferrari's Dino And The Echoes Of Potential

Ferrari’s Dino And The Echoes Of Potential

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
August 2, 2017
12 comments

Photography by Kacper Lewandowski
Story by Slawomir Poros, Jr., translated from the original Polish to English by Wojciech Pokoj

Dino

This word should be added to the Italian dictionary for “father-son relationship.” Dino is not a car, it is the love of a father for his son, a shared passion for motors and racing, and, of course, tragedy. The car that was the manifestation of Enzo’s love for Dino is one of those rare few that’s just filled with magic and history and provenance, a mix that transforms a lump of metal into a symbol.

Family

No other car captures the Ferrari family story better; in the Dino is a tale about a father—lost in his own greatness, overbearing, bitter, and yet an extremely fragile man—who had become one of the biggest automotive icons in history, if not the icon. On the other side of this story stands a son—a young, ambitious, carefully educated engineer and businessman—but above all a son who did not want to disappoint his father. It is the embodiment of both Enzo “Il Commendatore” Ferrari and his son Alfredo “Dino” Ferrari (for those unaware of the nickname’ origin, Dino is short for the diminutive of Alfredo, Alfredino).

Mr. Death

Enzo was an extremely demanding man. One cannot hide it, no matter how rose-tinted our specs are: Enzo was only interested in his own successes and selfish pursuits, whatever the cost, even if it meant endangering someone’s life. In the years between 1955 and 1965, at least six drivers were killed in Ferraris. And In 1957, a dozen people were killed during the Mille Miglia when Alfonso de Portago’s 335 S had a gruesome accident. After this event, the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, wrote of Enzo, “Ferrari is like the Roman god Saturn, devouring his own children.” Even this left Enzo unmoved. After his cars were involved in accidents, he was typically more interested in whether the car after the crash was suitable for the next race. In the 1960s, after one such tragedy, he was even accused of murder, but the court acquitted him.

Disease

The formidable “Il Commendatore,” in one moment, has his life fall into total havoc. In 1956, his 24-year-old, beloved son passes away after a hard fight with the then incurable muscular dystrophy. From an early age, Dino was prepared to take over his father’s empire. He also educated himself formally in the science of engineering. Unlike his father, he was a certified engineer, and attended two technical universities. Dino also honed his knowledge of economics and business management, and so was more or less primed to run the business later on. As an engineer at Ferrari, he started working on a 1.6-liter V6, which he envisioned propelling the new Formula 2 cars—it was an innovative idea, because Enzo usually only considered large V12s.

Young Dino, together with the outstanding engineer and Enzo’s most trusted man, Vittorio Jano, had jointly started work on the new engine. Even on his deathbed before his quiet departure, he was reading reports from the factory and discussing the final design with his father and the engineers who visited him. Alfredo had a chance to bring the Ferrari brand into a new era, but the real impact of his work would only manifest after his passing.

Although his father did everything to save his son—even resorted to smuggling illicit drugs into Italy—there was nothing even the all-powerful Enzo could do. Something shifted inside him after his son’s untimely death, and every day before work he would head to the family tomb to pray for Dino.

Mistress

Enzo became embittered and even more unhappy. Almost immediately after Dino’s death, his double life came to light. Alfredo was the “legal” son of Enzo and Laura Garello, but his death revealed that for many years Enzo also had a mistress, Lina Lardi, with whom he had an illegitimate son named Piero. Piero would become Vice Chairman of Ferrari later on, however it was always Dino who was the apple of the Commendatore’s eye, and Enzo wanted to create a car to pay homage to his son. These cars would become the Dino 206GT, and later the Dino 246GT. The concept model, which was first presented at the Paris Motor Show in 1965, was designed by Sergio Pininfarina himself, and the production version in 246GT trim is equipped with a 2.4L V6 engine, generating just shy of 200hp—the same construction that Alfredino started on. This engine proved to be a strong performer, and the Dino-powered Lancia Stratos went on to be a rally titan in the 1970s.

The Experience

The Dino is a moving experience, literally and figuratively. Opening the door to this one, I was captivated by the beautiful, thin and delicate chrome handles, and once I climbed in, I felt I’d crossed the border between the automotive realm and something otherworldly. Such a car is sort of like the wardrobe that leads to Narnia. Then reality hits again; the seating position is a little uncomfortable. I would describe it as like a race car layout: flat and low. Okay, I thought, this will not matter once I actually drive the thing. Turn the key. Nothing. Apparently no Dino fires up with the first attempt! I bury the gas several times, careful not to flood the carbs. The compact V6 finally jolts to life right behind your head. It is a wonderful sound—very delicate—but not demure. It is not a monster—a Dino is not fast—and it is not a demon of twisting torque and burps of fire either, but it doesn’t need to be, and it shouldn’t be compared against such criteria. Though Enzo originally only wanted to make race cars, the Dino is squarely in the production car category of performance and setup.

Design

The lines of the Dino extremely attractive. This is not news, I hope. There is a lot going on with the swept and nude-like curves and cooling inlets, but it never looks busy or overdone. The car is neither too big nor too small either, striking the perfect ratios between its proportions; low-slung with one plane flowing into the next, the “baby Ferrari” gives a sense of perfect balance. This extends beyond just the looks of course, as the Dino is the first Ferrari to have a mid-mounted engine. It was a novelty that Enzo at one point considered to be an extremely dangerous concept on the road. Of course, we know that the layout works just fine, and gives the driver plenty of opportunities to find joy in the car’s handling capabilities and general agility afforded by a centrally-located motor.

Future

Today, one may get away with calling the 488GTB an evolution of the Dino, and in many ways it is—it’s a car with a striking road presence, a small engine, and huge potential—but nothing will have the immense history of the Ferrari family so deeply mixed into its DNA.

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Barry WardVincent ChiaroSlawomir Poroswing nutJB21 Recent comment authors
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Barry Ward
Barry Ward

the Dino was my introduction to Ferrari, driving a new one in the 1970’s My main complaint was the clunky gearbox when cold and the lack of air conditioning when using it as a daily driver and commuting. Later in the “70’s Avis in London hired out these and other similar cars, so when I was in town for a visit I took advantage of this service. The handling of these cars at speed on motorways or by ways made you feel that anything was possible. At over 150 mph indicated on the motorway you felt in complete control. By… Read more »

Vincent Chiaro
Vincent Chiaro

A lot of Ferrari aficionados will tell you that it’s sacrilege to put the Ferrari emblem on a Dino (like in these photos) and that only posers will do that. True enthusiasts know how special these cars are even without a single Ferrari marking.

wing nut
wing nut

This is the car that started it all for me. As a young kid I heard a sound I’d never heard before and then saw the car zoom by…..a Dino. I chased the car for blocks hoping to get a better look and luckily for me the car pulled into a petrol station, Mann Egerton’s, located in Ipswich, England. I could not believe my eyes. It was, at that time, the most beautiful car I’d ever seen. Years later it became a reality and I’m happy to say I’ve got many thousands of miles under my bum in one of… Read more »

P-Nut
P-Nut

This article states that Pininfarina himself; however, a different designer was credited in a previous Petrolicious article from what I can tell. Who truly designed the Dino?

JB21
JB21

Yeah, the same, I’ve read, my entire life, that it was designed by Fioravanti.

Slawomir Poros
Slawomir Poros

read carefully 😉 Dino as Dino was designed by Fioravanti, starting from the first model 206GT. But the Dino 206 concept from Paris Show (about which I mentioned) was designed by Pininfarina himself.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

1) Ahhh … the ugly realities behind the myth that is Enzo Ferrari 2) Ahhhhhh … but the beauty , almost percent design and aesthetics of what was one of Ferrari’s two most beautiful mid engined cars … the 246 Dino … the other being the 288 GTO 3) But err … trying to compare the fugly Cosmic Jellybean pretense of aerodynamic design 488 GTB to the lithe and wonderful Dino 246 in any way shape or form is an exercise in futility . One .. the 246 being a timeless design .. the other .. the 488 being a… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

PS; Apologies … percent should of read ‘ perfect ‘

Dimitar
Dimitar

I love classic cars. Sure it’s beautiful but I hate it when a guy like you starts going on about how it’s significantly better than any new “plastic, fugly” car.
It’s not. Cars from every era have their charm and all but objectively the best ones are being produced right now.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Dimitar – Well I hate it when some pretentious dilettante such as yourself with zero aesthetic comprehension deluded by the concept that everything is ‘ art ‘ come out with your higher than thou bs in the vain and futile attempt to defend the indefensible . But yes .. CERTAIN cars from every era do have their positive points .. but the 488 pos aint one of of them and there is NOTHING in the present era that can so much as compare to the genuine artistic and aesthetic design of the 246 . Gee … kind go like that… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

By the way all ye Facebook/Twitter/Digitally addled minion/sycophants .. did a single one of you take the time to read the article in the link I provided ? Hold on .. what am I saying . Read ? As in actual reading something versus barely scanning over ? Never mind … you didn’t .. Suffice it to say though if you had .. you might of learned something when t comes to the difference between genuine exotic CARs … and the pretentious fragile automotive jewelry that passes itself off as a car and exotic today . Oh … but again… Read more »

John Holland

Hey Guitar Slinger – always good to read your comments and yes, I for one will look at the link to Road & Track Monsieur !