With a gentle clatter from the fuel pump and distant whir from the starter motor, the orchestral 2.4-liter six pot erupts into life. With a low bass burble below 400 rpm, the big triple twin-choke Webers fluff a little at low revs. Above 5,000, the whine of the cams, thrash of the chains and sucking of the carbs conspire to produce a spine-tingling bellow, building to an ear-piercing crescendo as the rev counter spirals past six grand towards the magic 7,500 red line. Even accelerating in top gear from low revs, there’s a seamless delivery of power.”

So wrote Classic and Sports Car Magazine when they road tested this car in July 1993.

The story of the Ferrari-powered Fiat Dino is well known. The initial Fiat Dino was introduced at the 1966 Turin Motor Show, along with the prototype of the Dino Berlinetta GT, which later evolved into the Dino 246. Both cars shared the superb V6 four-cam, two-liter engine whose lineage could be traced back to the Dino 246 Grand Prix engine and the Dino 166P sports-racing unit.

The Fiat Dino was built either as a curvaceous Spider by Pininfarina or as a handsome 2+2 coupe by Bertone. The Spider is one of the prettiest designs to emerge from Pininfarina’s studio in the 1960s. The haste with which the 2-liter Dino was put into production, however, means that in several respects the design was a little crude. All of those shortcomings were cured, and many other improvements made, with the 2.4-liter Fiat Dino introduced in 1969.

Assembly of these cars was transferred to the Ferrari works in Maranello to improve build quality. The later cars featured independent rear suspension, improved braking, cooling, power and torque, larger tires and a new ZF gearbox. Only 424 of the 2.4 Spiders were made, compared to 1,133 2-liter Spiders. The 2.4 Spider is therefore the rarest passenger car to carry this engine.

The car pictured here has undergone a complete nut and bolt rebuild at vast expense in Holland between 1995-96. Carefully used since then and now being offered by a private party, the car has proved extremely reliable and is particularly attractive in its silver color scheme.

SCM Analysis


This car sold for $28,750 (including buyer’s premium) at the Brooks Goodwood auction on June 23, 2000.

Fiat has always managed to include something interesting in its line-up, from a host of Abarth-enhanced cars to this Ferrari-engined Spider. One might wonder how the most prestigious Italian car builder came to cooperate with the most pedestrian. It was a matter of homologating 500 of Ferrari’s V6 Dino engines for a proposed 1600 cc “stock block” Formula 2. Since the production requirement clearly outstripped Ferrari’s capacity, Fiat offered the Rocchi-designed powerplant with the understanding that they would manufacture the required number of cars.

They did, but “low bass burbles” and “spine-tingling bellows” aside, Fiat had a difficult time finding buyers for its most sporting Spider ever. One reason is that people intending to buy Fiats in 1970 did not usually shop with four million disposable Lire in their pockets ($5,700). Further, the Dino’s high price bought a car composed, mostly, of recognizable pieces from Fiat’s 850 and 124 parts bins. Worst of all, the Fiat Dino coupe, generously described as “handsome” by the auction company, had an unnerving resemblance to an 850 coupe that had been whupped with a Bertone ugly stick. The most savage description of the Fiat Dino is that it is a car with Fiat reliability and Ferrari upkeep.

As the auction company’s description suggests, the first version of the car, a 2-liter with 160 horsepower and a solid rear axle, was premature. The subsequent Ferrari-assembled 2.4-liter version was nimbler, thanks to the larger engine and better gearbox. It also offered a tidier top storage arrangement, 20 additional Italian horses and independent rear suspension from the Fiat 130 coupe.

For all its negatives, the Fiat Dino Spider is still arguably one of the most beautiful automobiles ever to roll on four wheels. To see a well-turned out one is to want one. It’s almost worth the money just to have the car decorate a space in your garage.

This particular buy is another instance where restoration costs outstrip market value. The price paid, almost $4,000 over SCM’s guide, reflects this car’s fine condition. Even at an inflated price this car may ultimately prove a bargain, as restoration costs will only go up in the years ahead. However, since the physical beauty of the Dino Spider has proven more durable than its mechanicals, the new owner would be wise to tread lightly on the loud pedal and spend a lot of time admiring the car’s voluptuous lines.—Pat Braden

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