The Fiat Dino 2400 Was Much Rarer Than The Ferrari It Shared A Motor With
Florence, 1972. There is an attractive redheaded woman in town who typically gets where she’s going on a splendid motorcycle received as a gift from her partner. He is fond of open-top cars, so it’s no surprise that the four-wheeled demonstrate of his love for his girl is an orange spyder. The color reflects her hair, and this Fiat Dino is not just one of the thousand or so 2000cc-equipped versions, but one of only 420 examples with the larger 2400cc V6. The Fiat Dino, the “Torinese Dino,” wears a similar nose to the 1965 Dino Berlinetta Speciale prototype, and the Fiat car was designed and realized by the same designer, Pininfarina.
Those who claim that certain cars with the Dino badge are more authentic than others can always be reminded of the fact that the Fiat Dino was built before Ferrari’s 206, 246 GT, and GTS Dinos. And indeed it was Gianni Agnelli who decided to help the Prancing Horse here: 500 aluminum engines had to be fabricated for production cars, as was required by the racing regulations of the time, to ensure that Ferrari could produce Formula 2 cars with a motor derived from that of a street legal unit.
So Fiat, which was a much, much larger industrial company than Ferrari, took on the development of a model that could use the high-output V6 engine that Enzo’s tragic son Aflredo “Dino” Ferrari had experimented with before sadly dying at only 24 years of age from muscular dystrophy. After the agreement between the two constructors, the Dino Spyder was produced from 1967 to 1972. The position of the engine in this model is ahead of the driver and not amidships like Ferrari’s Dino, but the triple Weber 40DCNF carbs are the same as the 246’s.
Unlike the smaller-capacity Fiat Dino 2000 motor, which had an aluminum alloy block, the V6 in the 2400 is cast iron. “The engine is powerful and heavy, it has more torque and is the same as the Ferrari Dino 246 GT motor. Its real capacity is 2418 cc, developing 180 HP at 6,600 rpm,” the present owner tells me, a man who longed for one for 28 years before acquiring this example in 2014. “But the chassis is adequately strong. and the Spyder has very good balance. The maximum speed is over 130mph and the drive is a treat with the wider tires and independent rear suspension setup that the 2000cc models didn’t have,” he enthuses. Being a car restorer specializing in mechanics, he knows all the secrets of this Dino Spyder and is not keen on driving it that much for fear of damaging it and having to get back inside the motor.
He’s already done the regular maintenance for years now, and a bit more: “The engine’s cylinder head was repaired in the past due to the malfunctioning fan, which caused some overheating,” he remembers. While he was fixing that issue, he decided to fit the camshafts from a Lancia Stratos, “Which are mostly the same as the Dino’s to begin with, but a bit more high-performing,” he smiles.
There are some other little modifications that have been made to the car. For obvious starters, the Prancing Horse emblems. These were added many years ago to the covers of the wheels and to the steering wheel, and though it might be a little bit silly to put the Ferrari badge on the trunk lid, it’s an easily reversible, playful nod to the car’s history. “Most people don’t know that the Fiat has a Ferrari soul!” He keeps them on the car today because “They are part of the story of this example, not totally unfounded.” Other minor modifications include the front indicators which the previous owner substituted with more streamlined pieces. And as a final touch of customization, he’d also painted the rear of the bodywork black. Another optional extra, available in this case as a factory item, was the vinyl hard top: designed and created, like the car, by Pininfarina. It was a deluxe accessory at the time, especially considering that the Fiat Dino was designed to be a more accessible car. The internal side of the top is beautifully made with the same imitation leather (“vilpelle”) as used for the cream upholstery.
On the wooden dashboard we find a tachometer that indicates a redline at 8,000rpm, which is always a good thing in my opinion anyway—high-revving naturally-aspirated cars are harder and harder to come by lately. Also we see a spectacular 1970s-style switch that changes the sound of the horn from city to highway mode. The radio is also original, as are the clock and the button to operate the electric antenna. Behind the gear-shifter there are a few levers and switches that regulate the ventilation system.
It’s been through some hands but has stayed largely true to its original spec even after the restoration, and the current owner only acquired it after he’d stopped chasing it. “It was a long time since I first saw the car and inquired about it. The business partner of the first owner’s brother—I know—kept the Dino after his friend passed away, as a way to keep another memory of him.” Then one day out of the blue, as it often happens, he offered the Dino to the man who’d asked about it so long ago. He plans to hold onto it now that it’s finally come his way.