Fiat Dino 2400 Coupe history, the short and long version

The Dino story in short:

Reproduction of text and photos kindly provided by .

In the mid-sixties, two major Italian car manufacturers suddenly needed each other. Fiat, far and away Italy’s largest automotive producer, was in need of a flagship model to boost their image and show they could still produce an elegant GT car in the mould of their immortal 8V. Ferrari, the small on volume national hero of motorsport, required assistance to continue in Formula 2 racing with their legendary V6 motor when the homologation rules were changed.

The new rules stipulated that 500 units of a Formula 2 engine had to be produced before an entry was accepted. Ferrari quickly reasoned that outside help was required and approached Fiat to assist in producing the requisite amount by collaborating on a new road car design.

This new design was to be simply designated “Dino”, in honour of Enzo Ferrari’s late son Alfredino. Dino assisted in the initial discussions of producing Ferrari V6 race engines in the fifties under the watchful eye of Vittorio Jano. A bright engineering mind in his own right, Dino passed away at the tender age of 24 when he succumbed to muscular dystrophy in 1956. Enzo was said to have never overcome the grief of this tragedy.

Romantically, it was intended to introduce the road cars under a new Dino brand however the all important US Ferrari dealers did not agree that this would attract enough customers. Enzo, who was reluctant to add the Ferrari name to a ‘cut-price’ model of less than 12 cylinders, eventually agreed and a compromise was struck whereby two separate model designations were created- the Fiat Dino (which actually never sold in the US) and the Ferrari Dino, though no Ferrari badge work appeared on these cars.

The first car produced under the new agreement was the Fiat Dino Spider 2000, which debuted at the Turin motor show in 1966, with the first production cars built from October that year. Its coachwork was designed by Pininfarina (who also actually manufactured the cars) and it was a truly curvaceous design even if the Ferrari Dino 206GT (first shown in 1967 with production beginning in 1968) was considered the more dramatic with its swooping mid-engined layout. The 1987cc, all-alloy, quad-cam V6, complete with a copy of Dino’s signature on its cam covers, was developed for road use by Aurelio Lampredi and utilised triple twin-choke Webers. Brochures of the time suggested 160bhp at 7200rpm in the Fiat model, 180bhp at 8000rpm in the Ferrari, though as the engines were actually built in Turin there is still some conjecture surrounding the difference in quoted outputs.

To keep costs down (which is relative as the list price placed it in the Pagoda Mercedes class), the Fiat employed the basic live axle rear suspension design found in their 2300S, but equipped their Dino with quite advanced options for the day, with a 5 speed synchromesh gearbox, limited slip differential and four wheel disc brakes.

2 litre Spider production ended in December 1968 after 1163 were built, however it had gained a reputation for its lack of build quality and reliability as it was rushed into production to meet the homologation requirements.

Later in 1967, the Bertone designed and manufactured coupe version of the Dino was released. A full four-seater in design, with a 27cm longer wheelbase, the coupe was a step up in quality from the Spider especially in build quality and interior design. The rear seats were of the split fold type and the wood finished dashboard allowed for a cleaner dash layout. Power windows and optional leather or velour trim added to its prestige.

The inherent advantages in chassis stiffness and added wheelbase (not to mention a roof) made the early coupe a more complete tourer than its spider stablemate, however issues with oil pressure and cooling of the race bred 2 litre engine meant reliability was still a concern. By 1969, with 3670 Spiders built and its original reason for being satisfied, Fiat decided it was time to make the Dino into the flagship it should have been from the outset.

In enlarging the V6 to 2418cc and converting to an iron block, the Dino 2400 series specification produced 180bhp at a more relaxed 6600rpm. This made it vastly more tractable and wet sump lubrication along with an enlarged radiator and electronic ignition were intended to further enhance reliability. The adoption of the famous dog-leg ZF 5 speed manual coincided with a cable (rather than hydraulic) clutch but the biggest news on the ride/handling front was the adoption of the Fiat 130’s fully independent rear suspension.

Again the Spider was the first to be introduced; now being built in Ferrari’s Maranello factory to ensure consistency of quality with the 246GT released in the same year. 420 Fiat Spiders were eventually produced from September 1969 to January 1972 and today they are seen as the most valuable of the Fiat badged vehicles.

It is, however, the Fiat Dino 2400 Coupe that enthusiasts rate as the most complete from a driving perspective and this site shows one specific version of the Fiat Dino 2400 Coupe.

1. Alfredino Ferrari

2. Aurelio Lampedri og Gioachino Colombo

3. Giovanni Agnelli

4. Enzo Ferrari

The long Dino story

Reproduction of text and photos kindly provided by .

Alfredino was the name that Enzo Ferrari gave to his son who was born in 1932. "Dino" grew up in an environment where racing and winning on four wheels was all important. It isn't a surprise therefore that Dino followed in his fathers footsteps and in his early twenties was working alongside Enzo engineering engines and cars to put them in. Enzo believed that the "perfect" engine configuration was the V12 and maybe as a wish go in a different direction to his father, Dino started designing a smaller V6 power unit. We don't know exactly how far he was getting with his designs when he became seriously ill in 1955, but Enzo was known to have commented that although for him the V12 was all that mattered, a V6 would be acceptable in the right car. Later in 1955, Dino was bed-ridden and died in June 1956. Enzo was understandably distraught and as a legacy to
his son he decided to name all V6 engines "Dino" from that moment on, picture 1.

Before Dinos death, Aurelio Lampredi had been working on the V6 engine, followed by Jano who carried on this work in 1956 which was when the first Dino V6 was tested at the Ferrari factory. The following year saw a V6 being put in a car (the Tipo 156) and raced for the first time. It was a 1.5 litre (1489cc) with a V angle of 65°, 70mm bore and 64.5mm stroke. Another engineer, Franco Rocchi, followed on by working on V6's in the early '60s, picture 2.

Fast forwarding a few years and in 1964, motorsports governing body proposed a number of changes to the rules to qualify for entry in the Formula 1 and Formula 2 world championships. The rule change that concerns us here is the one whereby to be able make it to the F2 grid, all cars must have an engine that is derived from a car for which at least 500 units have
been made. Crucially it was the basic engine that had to be the same, therefore the capacity could be different.

Picture 3.This had huge consequences for Ferrari as they just did not have the money or resources to make that number of engines or cars (and quite frankly they were not interested in going in the production car direction either). The obvious answer was to find a partner capable and willing to undertake the design and production of a car for Ferrari's purpose and he found the perfect partner in Fiat. The trade-off for Fiat being that they would enjoy the notoriety of being associated with the formidable and highly successful national racing team. Enzo Ferrari and Giovanni Agnelli entered into talks and on the 1st March 1965 an official agreement was announced whereby "In accordance with the decisions of the International Commission on Sports on the Formula 2 (1967) racing, which prescribes a minimum production of 500 units in 12 months to obtain homologation and therefore derive a F2 engine, Ferrari has made an agreement with Fiat, whereby Fiat is to produce the 6-cylinder Dino engine in sufficient numbers to allow its adoption on the new single-seater Ferrari".

Thus was born the project that was to become the Dino. Ferrari was to design the engine and Fiat the chassis and of which coachbuiders work to choose to clothe it.

Ferrari wanted to use the Tipo 196 1.5 litre engine for F2 as it performed well and had been tried and tested. The engine capacity was to be increased to 2 litres for the road car and Fiat started by testing it to destruction. These tests did not go well (as expected of a race engine), so a number of modifications were needed to create a reliable yet powerful engine, easy to service and maintain for Fiats network of main dealers. There was a lot of correspondence between Maranello and Turin to cement the design but gradually the "Tipo 135 B" was born. 2 litre (1987cc), all alloy head, twin overhead cams for each cylinder bank, 3 twin-choke carburettors, 9:1 compression ratio and rated at 160bhp (DIN), Picture 4.
Picture. 5+6, Fiats chassis design by contrast was fairly mundane and stems from the fact that they really didn't have much time from a standing start to afully completed production car to be ready by early 1967- just over 18 months to be precise!
The main curiosity at the time being the use of the live leaf spring rear suspension, although to be fair even though early road test articles all questioned this choice as not being avant garde, they all reported that it worked surprisingly well.

Pictured is a very early Pininfarina Spider design. It featured in a popular Sunday magazine of the time (May 1965) where Pininfarina himself (then 70 years old), presented his son Segio and son-in-law Renzo Carlis' drawings of the imminent "Dino Fiat" (originally the "Dino" came before the "Fiat"). It was billed as the "Dream car attainable by many". Interesting features to note are the wrap-around side windows and the side air scoops (seen on the b/w drawing) - in this design the engine was in the rear. The expected date of the first publicly available models was the end of 1966 with a (optimistic) top speed of 250 km/h (156 mph)!
Pininfarina was very interested to design and build the Coupé bodywork and produced a number of drawings and prototypes with this in mind. Some remained on paper while other full scale mock-ups and semi-working cars were displayed at various motor shows between 1965 to 1967 during the lead up to the official launch of the Dino Coupé which of course was designed by Bertone. Pictured here are some of the Pininfarina creations. Picture 7,8,9+10. Picture 11 Bertone with one of his famous designs. 

 Production of the engine, chassis and   mechanical components began on the 8th of October 1966 at Fiats newly constructed Rivalta factory just south of Turin, whereas the Spider body was constructed, painted and trimmed by Pininfarina in their own factory and then delivered to Rivalta for final fitting. Sergio Pininfarina is quoted as saying: "The Dino represented a fundamental moment in our relationship with Fiat. A project which required a huge effort, born out of the meetings between Fiat and Enzo Ferrari which culminated in the famous agreement between the manufacturer from Turin and that from Maranello. Moreover my father had just passed away and I had to demonstrate that I was up to the task entrusted to me by Pininfarina. We needed to construct a certain number of examples to enable Ferrari to race in the Formula 2 championship, as agreed by Agnelli, and we worked night and day fearing that we would not e able to successfully complete the task".  

The remit for the Coupé bodywork design was originally given to Bertone. Picture 12. In 1964 and after a relatively long period was concluded and first shown in the March of 1967 at the Geneva Motorshow.  Production of the 2 litre models carried on for 2 years during which time there were a number of modifications made to the car and engine, mainly to improve reliability, the most notable arguably being the introduction of the Dinoplex ignition system which Fiat commissioned Magnetti Marelli to design and make to overcome plug fouling problems which frequently occurred in the invariable slow moving traffic of Italy's city centres. This system being the world's first electronic ignition system (picture 14) fitted to a production car and subsequently used on racing cars too such as the Formula 1 312s and the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33.
 Picture 13, the Fiat sportscar series 1969.
Fiat was meanwhile working on a second series with which it wanted to iron out some of the problems of the 2 litre model, some of which had been imposed upon them by Enzo Ferrari due to his need of an engine as close to possible to the racing version to limit the need for him to have to make heavy modifications, and partly due to the fact that when Fiat designed the Dino, they were under a tremendous time pressure and had to make some decisions that possibly with more time they would have done differently. Both the Spider and Coupé were subjected to a raft of changes touching virtually every body panel and many of the mechanical components too. Some obvious changes are the increase engine capacity to 2418cc (by altering the bore and stroke to 92.5mm x 60mm) using a cast iron block instead of the previous aluminium one, a different 5 speed ZF gearbox and independent rear suspension (taken from the Fiat 130).

Picture 15,16, 17

Production of the 2.4 litre cars was moved to a purpose built (by Fiat) production line at Ferrari's Maranello factory. Here the Fiat Dino was constructed alongside the 246's and meant that production at Fiats Rivalta factory wouldn't have to be interrupted for small runs of the Dino. The last Dino Spider rolled of the production line in January 1972 while the Coupé was produced for a further 5 months until June 1972.

5. Pininfarina early design

6. Pininfarina early design

7. Pininfarina Dino prototype 1967

8. 1966 Dino Torino Pininfarina

9. Fiat Dino Pininfarina Berlinetta sportiva

10. Fiat Dino Paris 1967

11. Nuccio Bertone

12. Bertone Coupe wood

13. Fiat anno 1967

14. Dinoplex

15. Dino Spider - 2400

16. Fiat 124 Sport Coupe - Fiat 125 - Fiat Dino Coupe

17.Dino Coupe 2400