Is a Fiat Dino a Ferrari? This question is sure to heat up the conversation the next time you're kicking tires at an auction
In the present ownership for the past seven years, this Fiat Dino Spider benefits from partial restoration at the hands of recognized specialists Garage Auto Gamma, of Lausanne, Switzerland. Completed in May 2000, the work included removal and cleaning of the engine and gearbox, renewal of gaskets, overhaul of the cylinder heads and replacing the right-hand side exhaust, fuel pump, ignition leads and much more besides. In addition, the brakes and shock absorbers were cleaned, overhauled and repainted, and the inner and outer steering joints replaced. Repairs to the floor and engine bay were carried out where necessary and the refurbished areas repainted.
The total cost of these works, the invoice for which is available, exceeded CHF 18,000 (approx. $10,000). A second Garage Auto Gamma invoice on file (totaling CHF 3,905, or approx. $2,900) is for a routine service carried out in June 2003 that included replacing the electronic ignition box and fitting four new Bridgestone tires.
The car is finished in red with matching interior, black tonneau cover and Cromodora alloy wheels, and displays a total of 87,045 kilometers on the odometer. Presented in good overall condition, it is reported as driving very well and displaying good oil pressure. The vehicle is offered with sundry invoices, current roadworthiness certificate and Swiss permis de circulation.
|1969 Fiat Dino 2000
|1966-1972 (both series)
|Original List Price:
|Tune Up Cost:
|Chassis Number Location:
|side frame rail above right wheel
|Engine Number Location:
|front passenger side of block
|Ferrari Club of America, P.O. Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358
|1969-1973 Porsche 911 Targa, 1974-1979 Ferrari 308 GT/4, 1972-1975 Alfa Romeo Montreal
This Dino 2000 Spider sold for $24,202 at Bonhams’ Geneva auction, held October 2, 2004.
Is a Fiat Dino a Ferrari? This question is sure to heat up the conversation the next time you’re kicking tires at an auction or sipping the bubbly at a concours preview. It’s often said that Enzo Ferrari declared, “A Ferrari is a 12-cylinder car.” Using that quote as ammunition, the casual enthusiast condemns the V6 Dinos as unworthy of the Ferrari name. The more knowledgeable, however, know the answer is not so simple.
New rules for the 1967 Formula 2 season required constructors to use an engine block that was also fitted in at least 500 street cars. Enzo Ferrari recognized that his company would never be able to build and sell 500 V6-powered cars quickly enough on its own, so he teamed up with Fiat to produce both an engine and a car to put it in.
The Fiat Dino came in two body styles: an elegant coupe designed and built by Bertone and a lovely spider from Pininfarina. The pair was introduced at the 1966 Turin Auto show as Fiat’s Dino 2000 and 2000 Spider. They featured Fiat-built 2-liter versions of the Ferrari-designed four-cam V6. The mostly light-alloy engines were fitted with three Weber carburetors and tuned to put out 160 hp, 20 less than the Ferrari-
marketed Dino 206 GT.
While credit for the design of the V6 motor is often given to Enzo Ferrari’s son, Dino, this is probably stretching the truth a bit. The younger Ferrari was indeed an engineer and possibly proposed the idea of making the V6, but it was more likely the legendary engine designer Vittorio Jano who was responsible for the actual design.
The Fiat Dino 2000s used a five-speed Fiat transmission to send power back to a live axle with a Watts-link-like leaf spring suspension. A coil spring and wishbone suspension was used up front. The result was a 130-mph car that would do 0-60 mph in around 8.8 seconds, very reasonable performance for the era.
The second series of the Fiat Dino was introduced in 1969, fitted with a 2.4-liter Dino V6 with a cast iron block and light alloy heads. The transmission was also changed to a ZF-supplied unit, and the live axle swapped out for an independent rear suspension. This new model also featured more power, better brakes, and better cooling, thus making the 2.4-liter car the more desirable model.
Fiat Dinos are great to look at and fun to drive-almost as much fun as their Ferrari Dino cousins. The V6 comes alive on the cam and produces wonderful mechanical sounds. The front engine placement allows more of this noise to reach the driver than the mid-engine Ferrari, and the front placement of the Fiat’s transmission provides a more direct shift linkage for faster and more confident shifting. Only the brakes and chassis really give away the Dino 2000’s pedigree.
While the Fiat Dino is often called a “poor man’s Ferrari,” do not misconstrue this slur as meaning you can afford one if you’re an enthusiast on a tight budget. The lower the price, the more likely the car has been used up. The more it’s been used, the more it’s going to cost to keep it up. The more you spend on upkeep and service, the smaller the chance that when it comes time to sell you’ll see anything close to what you’ve got into the car. It’s a simple fact that someone who can’t afford a good Ferrari really can’t afford a cheap one.
Furthermore, Fiat Dino chassis and trim parts are mostly extinct, and even engine parts are extremely difficult to find. These cars were cheaply built with typical Italian car deficiencies-marginal panel fit, dubious top fit, and iffy electrics. They likely started rusting before they even left the factory paint shop. Keeping one of these cars in top shape can take a considerable investment of time and money, and they are expensive to work on. It goes without saying that a Dino motor with a Fiat nameplate costs the same money to service as its Ferrari-marketed kin.
The auction description gives a good insight into the potential minefield. The Dino 2000 Spider pictured here has absorbed about $13,000 in recent repairs, and that’s without receiving new paint, an engine rebuild, or a transmission overhaul. Its floorboards have had to be replaced and the engine compartment also needed repairs.
I’d guess that the seller has grown tired of writing checks, and has decided to cut and run. There’s an argument to be made that this is the best time to buy the car, as you’re paying only pennies on the dollar for the recent work, but I suspect there are probably plenty of cosmetic upgrades still needed.
While this may be an inexpensive entry into the world of Ferrari, it’s a lot of money for a Fiat.
(Historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)