In February 1966, Ferrari debuted a new sports-racing car formulated for the FIA’s 2-Liter Group 4 class, with hopes of winning over the numerous privateer teams that campaigned in Porsches. Dubbed the Dino 206 S, the car was powered by the development of the 65-degree V6 engine that had been conceived by Dino Ferrari before his death in 1956. Introduced for the 1966 racing season, the Dino 206 S appeared to be a scaled-down version of the revered 330P, even wearing similarly ravishing coachwork from Piero Drogo’s Carrozzeria Sports Cars in Modena. The visual appeal of Drogo’s aerodynamic body shell, which featured a combination of stressed alloy panels and fiberglass over a welded tubular semi-monocoque, was beautifully complemented by the Dino V6’s fierce performance. By the end of the 1966 race season, the 206 S had proved its mettle, earning a 2nd-place finish at the Targa Florio, 2nd and 3rd at the Nürburgring and a 6th place finish at Spa. Although the 206 S was originally slated for a homologation of 50 examples, labor problems prematurely interrupted production after only 18 cars had been assembled, and the model, therefore, remains a rare and important milestone in the arc of the Dino race car’s development, as well as a cornerstone of the Ferrari road cars that followed. Aside from this fabulous restoration, 006 benefits from a thorough file of documentation, including a full correspondence record through the past 40 years, as well as a Ferrari Classiche certification. The most remarkable thing is that the car has been in single ownership since 1970, with only four owners from new.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1966 Ferrari Dino 206 S Spyder
Years Produced:1966
Number Produced:18
Original List Price:Unknown
Chassis Number Location:Chassis tube in engine bay
Engine Number Location:Center of V at back of engine
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America

This car, Lot 357, sold for $3,263,400, including buyer’s premium, at RM Auctions’ Monaco sale on May 12, 2012.

In all of automotive racing history, there have been few rivalries as epic or enthralling — both at the time and in retrospect — as the Ford/Ferrari “wars” of the mid-1960s: snarling 4-liter Ferraris standing off against bellowing 5- and 7-liter Fords with huge crowds in frenzied anticipation of the duel. Less known is that at the same time, Ferrari chose to take on Porsche in the middleweight (2-liter) championship. An obvious reason that it is less known is that Ferrari was notably unsuccessful in the attempt. The car they built for this challenge was our subject car, the Ferrari Dino 206 S.

Since Ferraris have historically been all about the engines, this story starts in late 1955. Enzo Ferrari’s son Dino was in very poor health, suffering from complications of muscular dystrophy, and Ferrari needed to come up with a new 1.5-liter race engine for the upcoming Formula 2. Dino was put in charge of the project, and he worked with Vittorio Jano, the legendary designer from pre-war Alfa days who had recently been recruited back from Lancia. The stories that Dino had created the engine are overblown, as his input was mostly to decide that a twin-cam, 60-degree V6 configuration was the best combination of compact size and mechanical efficiency. Dino Ferrari died in 1956 at the age of 23, and Jano effectively created the engine in his honor.

A fragile beauty

Though with modern computing capacity and experience, the V6 is ubiquitous and taken for granted, in fact it is a fiendishly tricky concept to make work. Without getting too technical, it has to do with getting the six cylinders to fire at exactly 120-degree intervals, which is simple with either straight or flat sixes, but a huge problem with a V configuration. The solution has to do with offset rod journals in weird locations, but with those come serious balancing and vibration issues. Lancia figured out the world’s first production V6 in 1950, so Jano had experience in how to make them work.

The immediate problem for a serious race engine, in Jano’s view, was that the 60-degree angle and twin cams didn’t allow enough room for proper intake porting, so he spread the angle by another five degrees. It wasn’t much, but it was enough, and the resulting 65-degree V6 Dino design continued from 1956 through to the 246 Dino — a 20-year run, although with substantial differences between the early racing versions and the later production ones.

When Ferrari decided to take on Porsche, the 2-liter variant was the obvious engine to use. The car itself was basically a scaled-down version of the 330 P3 that was giving Ford fits in the big leagues. The body was a tube frame with stressed fiberglass and aluminum body panels riveted to it for stiffness. The basic body design, arguably one of the most beautiful automotive shapes in the history of racing, was transferred as well, but the smaller size gave it a delicacy that the larger car seems to lack.

The result was the Dino 206 S (they didn’t even badge it as a Ferrari at the time), one of the most fabulously attractive racing cars of our time. Unfortunately, for all its beauty, it was at best a mediocre racing car, particularly in comparison with the Porsche 906s that it had to race.

The 206 handled very well, but the engine made its horsepower in a narrow band way up the RPM scale (218 horsepower at 9,000 RPM versus 215 horsepower at 8,000 RPM for the Porsche), so it was difficult to keep “on song,” and the transaxle and half shafts were notoriously fragile.

The high RPM and V6 balance problems made the engines unreliable as well. There were a few heroic drives in which the magic worked, but generally, the 206 S was swamped beneath a wave of Porsches and quickly disappeared from the scene. Originally slated for a 50-car “production” run, labor problems and its lack of competitiveness killed the plan, and only 18 were produced.

More than a racer

It seems appropriate to spend some time on how cars like this get valued by the market. As I have frequently held forth, value in a racing car is a combination of weapons-grade utilities (let’s go race) and collector utilities (the museum and lust factors).

If you strip the hype away, the 206 S is really just a mid-1960s 2-liter sports racer, which leaves a wonderful set of comparables available. At the purely weapons end of the scale are the Elva Mk 7 and 8/BMW and the Brabham BT 8, any of which will drive away from the Dino on any track for about $175,000 to $250,000, but that is all they’ll do — they’re just racers.

Step up the collectibility scale and you run into Porsches and the Alfa Romeo T33/2. A Porsche 904 has a fiberglass body and isn’t as fast, but you can take your wife on a weekend drive and expect to enjoy it. The Porsche 906 isn’t really streetable, but they’re pretty, have great international history and are as close to unbreakable as a 2-liter racing car can get.

The downside of the 904 and 906 is that they are relatively common. The Porsche 910 is basically an upgraded 906, faster and more rare — thus more collectible — but fundamentally an evolution. The Alfas are far more exotic — Italian factory racers, alloy-bodied, screamer V8 engines (9,600 RPM!) and designer bodies — but they are really not very usable (and God help you when — not if — it breaks). Interestingly, considering their differences, all of these cars fit in the same general price niche; $1 million to $1.5 million. It appears that the various positives and negatives for the different cars balance each other out in market value.

And then you have the Ferrari Dino 206 S, valued at about two-and-a-half times its direct counterparts and well over 10 times above an equivalent English sports racer.

Obviously we have stepped into the realm of museum-grade collectibility here: As long as the car was complete and certified (it was), whether it will ever again be used as a racer is academic. That’s not why it has value.

Within the realm of purpose-built racing Ferraris, our 206 S is in the lower middle of the range; more than most 4-cylinder cars but well below anything V12 and newer than 1955. It fits on the fine-art side of this continuum — more beautiful than usable — but unquestionably a real Ferrari racer with examples treasured by the most sophisticated of collectors. It’s a rare piece of sculpture as much as a racing car, and I suggest rationally bought by an astute collector.

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