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Dino was a brand for mid-engined, rear-drive sports cars produced by Ferrari from 1968 to 1976. The Dino brand was meant to be used for cars with engines that had fewer than 12 cylinders, reserving the Ferrari name for the V-12 and flat 12 models. The Dino name was retired after that point, in favour of conventional Ferrari branding. The Dino brand was an attempt by Ferrari to produce a relatively low cost sports car by using components from other vehicles.
The Dino models used Ferrari racing naming designation of displacement and cylinder count with two digits for the size of the engine in deciliters and the third digit to represent the number of cylinders, i.e., 246 being a 2.4 liter 6 cylinder and 308 being a 3.0 liter 8 cylinder. Ferrari street models of the time used a three digit representation of the displacement in cubic centimeters of one of the 12 cylinders which would have been meaningless in a brand with differing numbers of cylinders.
The Dino 246 was the first Ferrari model produced in high numbers. It is lauded by many for its intrinsic driving qualities and groundbreaking design. In 2004, Sports Car International placed the car at number six on its list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970s. Motor Trend Classic placed the 206/246 at number seven in their list of the 10 "Greatest Ferraris of all time".
The name "Dino" honors the founder's late son, Alfredo "Dino" Ferrari, who was credited with the design of the V6 engine. Along with famed engineer, Vittorio Jano, Dino influenced Enzo Ferrari's decision to produce a line of racing cars in the 1950s, with V6 and V8 engine designs. History shows that Alfredo Ferrari did not have a hand in the actual design of the V6 motor that made its way into the Dino.
The "Dino" brand was created to market a lower priced, "affordable" sports car. The first brochure described the Dino as "almost a Ferrari". Ferrari intended to do battle in the marketplace with Porsche and its 911. The more expensive road going Ferrari V12's of the time were no match at their much higher price point. But Enzo did not want to diminish the Ferrari brand with a cheaper car, and so "Dino" was born.
In addition to being a lower priced, "affordable" sports car, it was a car built in Alfredo's honor after he lost his battle with muscular dystrophy. While in hospital, he discussed technical details with the engineer Vittorio Jano. Dino would never see the engine; he died on June 30, 1956 at the age of only 24, before his namesake automobiles Fiat Dino and Dino were produced.
In 1966 Ferrari wished to race in the 1.6 L class of the Formula 2 racing series with Dino's V6. However, the company could not meet the homologation rules which called for 500 production vehicles using the engine. Enzo Ferrari asked Fiat to co-produce a sports car using the engine, and the front-engined, rear-drive Fiat Dino was born. It used a 2.0 L (1987 cc) version of the Dino V6, allowing Ferrari to enter the series.
At the time, the thought of using a mid-engine layout in a production car was quite daring, although the design was common in the world of sports car racing. A mid-engined layout placed more of the car's weight over the driven wheels, and allowed for a streamlined nose, but led to a cramped passenger compartment and more challenging handling. Lamborghini created a stir in 1966 with its mid-engined Miura, but Enzo Ferrari felt that a mid-engine Ferrari would be unsafe in the hands of his customers. Eventually he relented, and allowed designer Sergio Pininfarina to build a mid-engined concept for the 1965 Paris Motor Show, but demanded that it wear the Dino badge alone. The 1966 Turin car show featured a refined Dino 206S. The Turin 206S was a closer prototype to the actual production version. Response to the radically-styled car was positive, so Ferrari allowed it to go into production, rationalizing that the low-power V6 engine would keep his customers out of trouble. mention them here.
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