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Monday, November 24, 2014

A Fiat Badge and Ferrari Power: The Fiat Dino Coupe



Fiat took a controlling interest of Ferrari in 1969, but relations between the two companies go back a few more years. As with pretty much everything to do with Ferrari back then, it had a little something to do with racing. 

The wonderful Dino V-6 motor was a fine choice for Formula 2 racing, but rules dictated that it needed to be fit into 500 cars before it could be homologated. Fiat, Italy’s automotive giant, could help get that many cars together more easily than the smaller, more specialized shops at Ferrari.

The idea of an upscale, Ferrari-powered sports car in the lineup of course sweetened the deal for Fiat, and so the Fiat Dino was born. Buyers had an interesting choice between a sexy spider designed by Pininfarina and an elegant, cleanly proportioned four-seat coupe by Bertone.


Power came from the 2.0-liter version of the Dino V-6, but the more powerful 2.4-liter version shared with the mid-engined all-Ferrari model arrived in 1969. Later cars featured independent rear suspension as well.

Around 7,500 Fiat Dinos were built between 1966 and 1972, making it a rare car by most people’s standards, but in Enzo-era Ferrari terms 7,500 practically means mass production. This means that these super-Fiats, especially the coupes, are surprisingly affordable and haven’t gotten caught up in the stratospheric rise in classic Ferrari prices over the last few years.

photo of Fiat Dino Coupe

And with something like the slightly understated but still gorgeous Dino coupe comes one of the all-time great racing pedigrees. While it doesn’t have 12 cylinders, the Dino V-6 nevertheless was one of the most successful racing engines of all time, not to mention one of the most versatile.

With applications in Formula 1, Formula 2, various classes of sports car racing and of course rally domination in the Lancia Stratos, the competitive career of the Dino V6 was both incredibly long and deeply impressive. That you could get such a powerplant in a four-seater Fiat is still pretty shocking.