Carini: Only the girl of my dreams could separate me from my Dino
When I learned that this year’s Bull Market List included the Ferrari 246 Dino, I got to thinking about my experiences with those wonderful machines.
Whenever my father and I would drive down to Greenwich, Connecticut, he’d always give me a chance to peek through the plate glass window of Luigi Chinetti’s Ferrari dealership. On one of those trips, sometime in 1968, I caught my first glimpse of a 206 Dino. I had been intrigued by the overall shape ever since I’d seen the Ferrari 365 P center-steering concept car through the same window the year before. I was 16 and champing at the bit to get a car, and that fantastic Pininfarina shape really excited me. One of the features that caught my eye was that the Dino sat on knockoff alloy wheels.
A couple of years after that first Dino sighting, my dad was asked to repair the damaged door on a customer’s Dino. Unable to get a new door for the car, he had to remove the damaged one to repair it. As a result, the Dino was in the shop for a while, and I loved sitting in the driver’s seat and looking out the windshield over those steeply peaked fenders that made me feel like I was driving a race car. That was the moment I decided that some day I would own a 206 or 246 Dino.
Over the next few years, Dad and I repaired several other Dinos. Working on them only cemented the idea of owning one, but as a fresh college graduate, I knew that wouldn’t happen any time soon.
In 1980, I was repairing cars for a good friend and client and had just painted his Ferrari 365 GTB Daytona Spider conversion. A couple of weeks later, he called to tell me he had sold it and taken a 246 GTS Dino in partial trade. He asked if I would go down to Florida and swap the cars for him. My friend had possession of the Dino for a week when he showed up at my shop early one afternoon, climbed out of the car, and said, “Did you know that this car is a six-cylinder?” I replied that I did indeed know that. “I can’t drive a six-cylinder,” he said. “It has to have a V-8 or a V-12. Do you want to buy it?”
I told him I couldn’t do that, but I asked how much he wanted anyway. “Exactly what I paid for it,” he said. “Sixteen thousand.” I didn’t have that kind of money at the time, and I said as much, but he was persistent. “Could you pay me back in a year?” After about two seconds of thought, I told him I was pretty sure I could. “It’s yours!” he said. “Climb in and drive me back to my office.” The car was paid in full in six months.
That Dino was a 1973 246 GTS with 22,000 miles on the odometer. Finished in its original Blu Sera with a tan and black Daytona interior, it was gorgeous. Driving the Dino was like no other experience, from how well the car fit me, to the perfect balance front to rear, as well as the car’s overall balance of power, handling, braking, and shifting from the five-speed manual transmission. As long as you didn’t rush the shifts, few gearboxes felt better.
I often found myself driving with the windows down to better listen to both the fantastic exhaust note and that magnificent sucking sound of the three two-barrel Weber carburetors as the V-6 hungrily gulped fresh air.
I was on top of the world: I had just started dating the girl of my dreams—my future wife—while driving the car of my dreams. We dated for five years, and finally the Dino had to go to pay for the wedding and our three-week honeymoon in Europe. But what an amazing dual courtship!
In the 40 years since I first drove that blue Dino, I’ve bought and sold many others, in a variety of great colors—like Fly Yellow, Grigio (gray), black, red, and silver. I’ve also painted or restored a number of others, including returning one in its original factory green. I still love Blu Sera above all the other hues.
That first Dino of mine has been gone for 37 years now, but as much as I loved that car, getting married was more important. It must have been the right choice, because we’re still happily together after all this time.