Last Of The First: A 1969 Ferrari Dino 206 GT Visits Mugello
The Dino Berlinetta Speciale Pininfarina was one of the announcements that most amazed the public and press in October 1965 at the Paris Mondial de l’Automobile. It was only a prototype and could not be produced in series, but by combining the harmonic lines of a “dream car” with a racing soul, it was able to write its own page in history and inform decades of Ferrari design to come.
Before this experiment, the idea of a centrally-positioned engine in a coupé had not convinced Enzo Ferrari, because he thought it would have given the car poor roadholding characteristics while compromising other aspects as well—it was to change what it meant to be a Ferrari, in a way. That’s why he preferred not to mark the first 206GT with the Prancing Horse logo when he agreed to the concept, and so they used “Dino” for the brand itself. Nevertheless, without an agreement with Fiat (which later bought the small artisanal Maranello company in 1969), which took on the production of 500 aluminum Dino engines, this model wouldn’t have seen the light.
The reason is that the “Drake” (you thought he only had one nickname?) wanted to build a Formula 2 racing car at the time (which was being developed since the mid-‘50s), but according to the regulation which would have come into force in 1967, the engine had to be derived from a Gran Turismo car produced in a quantity of 500 units. Fiat was tasked with developing a car to hold the motor, but Ferrari would produced a Dino of its own, and it wouldn’t be front-engined like Fiat’s.
Four more prototypes had to be prepared before the birth of the Dino 206 GT though, which as we know takes its name from the unlucky “Alfredino” – Enzo Ferrari’s son who experimented with a high-output V6 engine before tragically dying at only 24 years of age from muscular dystrophy. The production of the 206 GT eventually started during the spring of 1968, with 99 units built, although two cars were produced the year before. The total series production was 152 cars, and the 206 pictured here is one of the 51 that came out of the factory in 1969, the final year of production after the Dino 246 was presented in Geneva.
“Due to the fact that they’re assembled by hand, there can be a difference of weight among Dino 206s: mine is 900kg, as we can tell by the data in the vehicle registration document, but there might be some of 920 or 890kg,” the owner tells me. He is definitely realizing a long held ambition after his recent purchase of this blue example at the end of October 2017. As a young boy he would dream frequently about this car, and as a young doctor today he turned that wish into reality by putting in his garage one of the widely regarded pinnacles of automotive design. “The perfection of shapes in this model is incomparable to any other sportscar, and absolutely no addition can be made to its beauty,” states the obviously infatuated enthusiast.
Not only is the two-liter engine crafted from aluminum, but so is the bodywork. It was built by the Modena based coachbuilder Scaglietti with the smooth, aerodynamic, and compact modeling done by Pininfarina over it’s seven-and-a-half-foot wheelbase. The stunning cut tail with the rounded front wings and headlights harks back to the sporting cars made by the marque in the first half of the ‘60s, but as the collector says of the 206, “It’s hard to choose a favorite detail as the entire design is fabulous.” We’re inclined to agree. “But if I really had to name one, it would be the curved rear window, which was particularly innovative.”
And what about the interior? “The steering wheel is in the classic wooden style, while the seating upholstery in this 206 GT was been changed by the third owner, the Italian tenor Mario Del Monaco, and I find it superb in beige leather and velvet.” The singer kept the car for five years and seemed to have loved it passionately, like everyone who’s had the car during its accumulated 70,000 kilometers, and indeed this Dino still looks fresh today. “In the inside of the doors there are still the plastic protective covers,” reports the owner, who is the fifth in total. “Also the mechanical aspects were in perfect condition. The only components that needed to be substituted when I bought the car were the clutch and the muffler.”
The combination of its light weight and high-revving motor (producing 180hp at 8000rpm) elevates the performance of the Dino 206 GT above its peers, while the tubular steel frame underlines its racing heritage and gives structure to the gorgeous Pininfarina design of the bodywork. The advertising campaign described the first Dino as “Small, whippy and safe… Nearly a Ferrari,” but today we think a bit differently, and as the owner states, “You can feel the Ferrari influence very well,” especially when you’re driving without anybody else on the road.
“The drive is beautifully responsive and light, it could be the one of a contemporary vehicle. Even if using the five-speed gearbox requires some energy. And you must remember to brake a little before a bend when you go fast if you don’t want to exceed the limits of its grip!” he adds, with a wide smile. When the weather is cooperative, he gets behind the wheel on Sundays and drives to the Tuscan hills, not far from where he lives. He delights in the drive, but also in the admiring glances drawn to a car like this: “There are not many 50-year-olds that can make male heads turn like this car!”