1968 Fiat Dino 2.0
6-cyl. 1987cc/160hp 3x2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Fiat introduced its 2-liter Dino at the 1966 Turin Motor Show, a collaboration between the giant Italian automaker and its chic counterpart, Ferrari. Available as either a curvy, open Spider by Pininfarina or a smart-looking 2+2 coupe designed by Bertone, the car evolved into a 2.4-liter model by 1970. Ferrari eventually assumed production, and quality improved over the Dino's run. By 1972, more than 7,600 Fiat Dinos of all stripes had been built, the rarest of them the 2.4 Spider, with just 424 produced. It is these 2.4 Spiders that are the most collectible of the bunch.
The name is derived from Enzo Ferrari's son Alfredo, nicknamed Dino, who collaborated in the mid-1950s with the legendary engineer Vittorio Jano on a lightweight aluminum V6. A decade later, Ferrari planned to use this engine to power its F2 race cars. Homologation was necessary, however, and Fiat, with its mass-production capabilities, was a natural fit to get the engine into as many cars as such homologation required, in this case 500. But a Ferrari powerplant couldn't just be shoved into any old Fiat 850 or mundane Fiat 2300 sedan. An entirely new car was required.
The two entities enlisted Pininfarina to design the open Spider, while Bertone was responsible for the coupe, and in 1966, the former appeared on the Fiat stand at the Turin Motor Show; the latter would debut a year later in Geneva. Both body styles are uniquely proportioned, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive cars. While the Spider’s looks received mixed reviews, the coupe’s reception was much more favorable as it fit its skin a bit better thanks to its increased 2+2 wheelbase.
The coupe featured luxuries like power windows, split folding rear seats, and rear window breathers that opened automatically depending on the car's speed. It also featured a lovely wood dash with big gauges and nifty switches, and a supple leather interior.
The massaged, road-going 2.0-liter V6 delivered 160 hp and was mated to a Ferrari 5-speed transmission. It was the same powerplant that Ferrari employed in its own mid-engined 206 Dino GT. By 1969, the engine had evolved into a 180-hp, cast-iron, 2.4-liter unit that was paired with a more robust ZF transmission. While Fiat built the earlier cars, which were noted for some quality control foibles, the later cars were built in-house by Ferrari, alongside their own machines, now called the 246 Dino GT. The in-house versions are regarded as more reliable.
Other changes besides the increase in displacement included a switch from a live rear axle and leaf springs to a coil-sprung independent suspension, a larger radiator, a cable-operated clutch, an electric brake servo, and larger tires. The added power and the relatively sophisticated suspension set-up brought the lithe Dino to life on a twisty road. The cars were lauded in period for their performance in such venues, especially as they were essentially Ferraris underneath, but at a fraction of the cost.
Dino production ceased in June 1972, in large part due to a culmination of lagging sales and the energy crisis. In all, 7,651 cars were built (1,159 2.0 Spiders, 3,670 2.0 coupes; 424 2.4 Spiders and 2,398 2.4 coupes) .
Rust has claimed many cars, and these days they are a rare sight, particularly the Spiders. But when you consider the Ferrari DNA that runs through them, these Fiats are serious contenders as economical exotics.