Ask anyone about the Fiat Dino, and they'll happily tell you all about the Ferrari Dino -- which is not this car. They share an engine and a model name, but that's it. The model name is short for Alfredino Ferrari, Enzo's son, who conceived of the Ferrari V6 in 1955 but died in 1956. Enzo Ferrari declared that from that point on, all Ferrari V6 engines would carry Dino's name, including the Fiat with the Ferrari V6 under its hood.
Ferrari has never built thousands of cars per year, but Fiat has. Ferrari used Fiat's vast parts bin and manufacturing techniques to produce 500 of its V6 engines to meet homologation rules and allow the engine to be used in Formula 2 racing. Though it passed muster for racing, it never passed U.S. regulations and was never sold here.
If you think you've seen one of these before but can't place it, then you've probably seen The Italian Job from 1969, the one with Michael Caine. The bad guy drives a shiny black Fiat Dino coupe, and there are some gorgeous shots of it in the movie. The first close-up of the wheel is a killer.
From 1966 to 1968, the Fiat Dino used a 2-liter V6; from 1969 to 1972, it used a 2.4-liter V6. The later cars are considered the better cars, as the engine was more powerful, more torquey, and stiffer. The Dino was the first car ever to have electric ignition, a system called "Dinoplex," according to Classic and Peformance Car.
There were two versions of the Fiat Dino, a coupe and a convertible (called a spider), which came into production at the same time. What's curious, though, is that the coupe's bodywork was designed by Bertone and the spider's was designed by Pininfarina. Two iconic Italian design houses worked on two body types of a car produced by two Italian manufacturers. Both cars feature the deeply hooded headlights, though the tail of the spider seems to be lopped off when compared to the coupe.
The biggest difference between the Fiat Dino coupe and spider -- besides one having a top that could be folded away -- was that the spider only had two seats. The coupe had four seats.
Fiat Dino 2.0 Specs (2.4 in parenthesis)
- Engine: 2-liter V6 (2.4-liter V6)
- Horsepower: 160 hp (180 hp)
- Torque: 126 lb-ft (159 lb-ft)
- Top speed: 130 mpg
- 0-60 mph: 8.1 seconds
- Price: $6000 est.