sporting fiats club Saturday, July 20, 2024


Dino History

Buying Guide

Driving Dinos

Types Of Dino

Dino Numbers

SFC Gallery


Site Links

Fiat Dino - Just Drop Dead Gorgeous...
Composite of 2 litre and 2.4 litre Dinos from around the world


I remember my first time well. It was a sunny summer’s afternoon in our local high street, I was standing opposite a crossing when that unique muffled roar of a Ferrari engine echoed off the shop fronts. I turned to see a dark blue wonder! There are some car shapes that are bound to be forever classics – and surely here was one. But this sports car bore none of the expected badges. Yes, it was left hand drive, certainly Italian, but as it departed, amidst more fabulous noises, did that rear badge say Fiat Dino? I’d driven a Ferrari Dino but what was this?

Dino History

Cooperation between Ferrari and Fiat ran deeper than the car’s name. Ferrari required a smaller capacity engine suitable for racing formulae and, so the story goes, were going to struggle meeting the 500 examples of their V6 engine for race homologation. Actually their "Dino" was intended to become a separate marque for cheaper sports cars (other than Ferraris) and they never carried Ferrari badges. The marque was named in memory of Enzo Ferrari’s late son who was killed in a car accident. Ferrari proposed a Dino GT while Fiat developed a Spider & Coupe. All powered by the Ferrari V6 engine. So two lines of Dinos were produced.
By 1965 both companies had started development. First to appear was the Ferrari Dino 206 S in 1966. 16 of these racers were built for the GT & Prototype classes. They delivered around 218 hp @ 9000 rpm and 268kph top speed. As well as providing initial engine testing, the 206 S also sported those image-boosting curves. Later that year the Fiat Dino spider appeared, first introduced at the Turin motor show. The Dino Spider was designed and built for Fiat by Pininfarina, who also provided the bodywork for the Ferrari cars. Fiat awarded the task of designing the Coupe to Bertone at the same time.

Series 1 Dino
Early Fiat Dino’s suffered from build quality criticisms. The first series, hurried into production, had some reliability problems (erratic oil pressure, sticking gearbox, plug fouling at low revs, fuel line vapor-lock). In later series most of these problems were eliminated, and are thoroughly understood in today‘s survivors. Fiat also used a live rear axle design based on their 2300 S – with four dampers. Though faster and cheaper in development, it limited the car's potential and was replaced in the later 2400 Series 2.
Bertone’s Coupe had many luxury items we look for today, like power windows, separately folding rear seats and automatic speed-dependent rear window breathers. It’s wood finished dashboard is impressive. Both Coupe and Spider interiors are finished in leather. The understated Coupe is also deceptively larger. It outsold the Spider by about 4 to 1, despite being similarly priced. The Coupe is a genuine four seater and this might account for its popularity. Most of the cars were sold in Italy – where they remain today. No right hand drive examples were factory made. The all aluminium Ferrari engine featured Dual Overhead Cams per bank, 9 to 1 compression ratio and 3 Weber twin-choke carburetors. The gearbox was a Ferrari 5 speed synchro, driving the rear wheels via a limited slip differential. The front suspension was independent and disc brakes were used on all 4 wheels with vacuum servo assistance.

Series 2 Dino
In 1969 revisions were introduced by Fiat. Their Dinos now boasted a 2.4 litre version of the V6 engine. The body shape and dimensions remained similar, although many panels were reworked. The 2.4 litre spider is hard to identify, most notable are the revised grill, ‘Dino 2400’ badges at the rear, and front indicator lights now behind the front wheels, incorporating ‘Fiat Dino’ badges. The 2.4 litre road wheels were all bolt-on - replacing the knock-on type.

The new engine was heavier but more powerful and reliable. In the 2400 models the Ferrari transmission was replaced by a more robust 5-speed ZF gearbox, and the rear suspension was now fully independent with anti-roll bar.

The coupe interior was revised with the instruments positioned around the driver with all dials fitted into one panel. The bucket seats now featured headrests too. In comparison the Spider dashboard remained straight-forward and a more classic layout but was changed to a wooden fascia– replacing the original aluminium. (The dashes are not really interchangeable). Overall the 2400 was much refined.

End of the line – Glorious Failure?
In 1971 Fiat introduced the 130 coupe replacing the sporting Dino Coupe with a larger grand tourer. Ferrari replaced the Dino 246 GT with the rather squarer Dino 308 GT4. In the post oil crisis Seventies it was Bertone’s mid engined design for the 308 GT4, and X1/9, and X1/20 (Lancia‘s Beta Montecarlo) that cultivated the distinctive flat wedge bodies of the next era‘s Italian sports cars.
The Dino line stood for exciting yet affordable Italian thoroughbreds. Their reliability and build issues hindered the early years. Still Fiat’s Dinos deserve their present status alongside Ferrari’s 246 GT because they have the enduring looks, excitement, power, and individuality that make for a true thoroughbred classic.
Their heritage and direct descendants make it impossible for me to see this joint venture as a failure. For Bertone, Fiat/ Lancia and Ferrari were already collaborating to take this 2.4 litre V6 engine into another very special car - the Lancia Stratos. Between ‘74 and ‘75, 500 of the Stratos Group B rally car were homologated. In competition, it was a spectacular success, and rightly celebrated as a pinnacle of Italian automotive innovation.
If it has to be seen as a commercial failure, the Dinos’ history and the opportunity it affords us today to own one of these lovely machines is nothing less than glorious.

Buying Guide
The Fiat Dino 2.4 litre generally commands above 20% higher prices than the earlier 2.0 litre – although many fewer 2.4 Spiders were made. The Coupe’s prices are about half an equivalent Spider. In the UK, auction prices for these cars have remained about the same for the last 5 years – perhaps only the later Coupe prices having firmed up.
Don’t expect to find one immediately here, you may have to travel to find one. You’ll pay around £15,000 for a good 2.4 Dino Spider (show room condition will be more). Look for a detailed history file well populated with invoices. Like the 246 GT they had a reputation for being stolen. Take along a specialist for the viewing.
Superperformance Ltd (superperformance.co.uk) parts lists are a ‘must have’ for the would be owner. – acquire and study before buying. Other UK specialists include Rosneath Engineering and Trentside Classics. Don’t expect Ferrari dealers to have the knowledge or interest for the Dino. Get talking and mailing to other owners.

Engine & Mechanical Notes:
Any engine re-builds are expensive, and from our band of regular owners, is the most common reason for moving on. So don’t buy a smoky or noisy engined one....

Has reputation for top end lubrication problems – especially check cam/ valve wear
Exhaust replacement - it is a bespoke design and will cost £400/600 to have made
Later gearbox (ZF type) more reliable than the earlier Ferrari but expect a notchy slowish selection, this is normal for both.
Expect many parts to need machining – not off the shelf!
Chassis and Engine numbers rarely matched at the factory!
Electrical Notes:
Relays and wiring is general dodgy (as with other Italian models of this era)
Check loom esp around engine bay (Plan for a re-wiring?)
Early FIAT alternators are heavily taxed on the Dino – 77 amp circuit – Parts are available.
Ignition system, check Distributor & Points wear. Consider modern management system if not fitted
Check all the electric motors. Specialists in UK can re-build.
Check Coupe’s complex dash and automatic rear vent breathers – unreliable.
Body Notes:
Even the youngest (last ones sold in ‘74) are now 30 years old.
Check the car’s poise – sits level? Drives with front & rear wheels in line?
Check panel gaps esp. around doors & check for sagging from weakening sills.
(note: Body flexure on Spider was always present if jacked at a front corner & a door opened/ closed gently.)
Most affected rust areas are wings, floor, bottom ‘A’ post & wheel arches, doors and jacking points.
Check all its flanks & inside of all steel panels for repairs. Body parts are difficult to source, panels often unavailable.
Spider panels differ between the series 1 & 2 – beware
Plan for a rolling restoration… find a good and willing body/panel beating shop.
Check spider hoods carefully - had tendency to leak... (check for stains and floor rot under carpet – floor has no drain holes.)
Spider optional plastic hard top rare – expect to pay £500 to £1200 depending on condition.
Check for bumpers, body trim & badges – they are all expensive & difficult to source.

Driving Dino’s
In regular use the Dino needs to be treated with care. Some important points:
Ensure the engine is at full operating temperature before applying high revs or heavy strain
Use the electric system sparingly – keep energy consumption as low as possible.
Strictly keep to the recommended oil types and oil changes
Its always difficult to objectively assess a thirty year old chassis. What does today’s driver expect? How often and in what way would you want to drive it? Even when new the motoring press commented on the Dino’s lack of body rigidity – notably over bumps. Perhaps its best compared with the 4.2 E type Jaguar of the same era. Both cars are nervous in the wet, and have a unique smell and engine-borne attitude when driving them. Their driving positions are basic but ok, clutch action is a little heavy – nothing to worry about. Both are equally at home in town traffic, motorways, or country roads – but neither would match a contemporary Elan on the latter. The Dinos feel heavier than a 124 of this age - and of course they are! The disc brakes are adequate though.
The Series 2 Dino 2400’s independent rear suspension is noticeably better. Exiting corners, the Dino will tend to sudden snap away under power, even beyond normal for a rear wheel drive car. But the engine, its response and note is unforgettable. Simply put, the Dino gives a great sporting drive!

Types of Dino




Dino Numbers
Fiat continued to make Dinos as their top line car until 1972, the last Dinos were listed and sold in ‘74. The majority were sold in Italy. As the table below shows, Coupes outsold Spiders by about 4 to1. Only 424 of the larger engined Spiders were made. In contrast the larger steel bodied Ferrari 246 quickly replaced the more expensive aluminium bodied 206 GT and sold in much larger numbers. From 1972, Ferrari also made a very successful spider version of the 246, the GTS.

2 litre  -
206 GT
2.4 litre  -
246 GT
246 GTS
Dino Model
206/246 GT

Dino General Data:













2.0 litre -
2.4 litre -


SFC Dino Gallery


Dino Page Links


• Catalogue from Superformance Ltd  http://www.superformance.co.uk who also specialise in 308s as well as the Fiat and Ferrari Dinos. Based in Essex UK.

• Deep in the heart of Detmold Germany is part of the Holtmann Niedergerke Group. For the Fiat 124 130 and Dinos they carry excellent stocks of new reconditioned and second hand spares. They should be on your shopping list. H&N Online Shop they are in the process of extending the online spares list here. Local Detmold retail outlet is Gettingman & Niedergerke on +49 (0)5231/6179-0. They have more recently been extending their ranges of badges and emblems to include the Dino range.

• Don't neglect the German spares connections, as demand during the nineties has risen, the German suppliers have sourced many parts out of Italy. Please keep me informed if you find any more good ones!

Parts and Advice:

• Trentside Classics http://www.trentsideclassics.co.uk
• Rosneath Engineering http://www.rosneathengineering.co.uk

• Searching through cars for sale can give you some very good ideas - this is the sort of Spider I'd really like to own! http://www.fiatdino.nl/reddino.htm

• An awful lot of guff is talked about using unleaded fuel - and for early Ferrari engines its the motoring equivalent of the millennium bug. Sort the ignition timing out, ensuring detonation/ pinking is absent (perhaps add modern engine management/ ignition modules for greater accuracy/ reliability). If you use higher revs add octane booster, and then monitor valve seat wear as normal. And read this from Puma Racing.... http://www.pumaracing.co.uk/unlead01.htm

Clubs and Enthusiasts:
• Thanks to the Fiat Dino Register of Holland - who had their first meeting in June 2002 - for showing us some great shots of their Dinos - their site is on http://www.fiatdino.nl

• If you want to practice your German there's an owner's club site on http://www.fiat-dino.de

• No list like this would be complete without a mention of Wally Clark who's built up the US Fiat Dino Register. We have an email address for him at clarkinc@pacbell.net