Friday, September 4, 2015

The Last Dino

            Many people are at least somewhat familiar with the story behind the Italian brand, Dino. In the 1960s, to compete with the likes of Porsche in Formula 2 racing, Ferrari created a mid-engine, six cylinder car with the help of the iconic Batiste “Pini” Farina, called the 206. The name, in Ferrari style of the time, represented the 2.0 liter six cylinder engine that had been initially developed for Fiat.
            Enzo Ferrari did not want to put his name on a car that wasn’t equipped with his traditional Columbo V-12 engine. So he chose the name of his son, Dino, who had passed away from illness but had been the original inspiration behind the smaller engine.
            The 206 became the 246, now one of the most sought after “Ferraris” in the world, with cars being sold at auction at close to a quarter of a million dollars.
            In 1973 Ferrari decided to replace the 246 with a completely new design. Enter the 308 which sported a 3.0 liter V-8 engine. This was something totally new, once again, for Ferrari who had not dabbled in eight cylinder power plants before. With an aluminum block and heads this engine produced 230 horse power for the American market, slightly more for the European models.

           Another major step for Ferrari was that this car was not designed by longtime partner Pininfarina but rather by rival Bertone. The looks were drastically different, representative of the more angular and wedge type shapes that were coming into vogue. The 308 was a2+2 though the back seat was so snug you would be hard pressed to find an adult who could comfortably fit.
            With such style and innovation this car was not cheap. While the entire world knew the name Ferrari, few recognized Dino. Though those in the know knew the pedigree behind the Dino brand, many people were reluctant to pay Ferrari money for a car that didn’t bear the famed Italian name.
            In 1976, Enzo Ferrari gave in to pressure and began badging the 308 as a proper Ferrari. Sales ticked up.
            The 308 became a mainstay for Ferrari until 1980 when it was phased out. The legacy of this brilliant car was cemented as it was featured on the hit Tom Selleck TV series Magnum P.I.

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