1971 Fiat Dino 2400 Spyder

Coachwork by Pininfarina

"No engine has such glamour as a thoroughbred racing unit, built regardless of cost. It is therefore a privilege to be able to test a new high-performance car which literally has a 'productionized' version of a genuine racing Ferrari engine, and the privilege is all the greater when the test is on the roads of Italy... The Fiat Dino is a car which is sheer enchantment for the enthusiast to handle. Small enough to be driven fast on narrow roads, it is also sufficiently large to be very comfortable... It can be regarded as thoroughly practical transportation rather than a pampered status symbol." John Bolster, Autosport, 3rd March 1967.

In the mid 1960s, Ferrari needed a 2-litre production-based engine to qualify a car for Formula 2. Faced with the daunting task of building 500 engines per annum to meet the homologation requirements, Ferrari turned to FIAT for assistance, the resulting agreement for the latter to build the Dino four-cam V6 engine leading to a spin-off model for FIAT.

Launched in Pininfarina-bodied Spyder form at the 1966 Turin Show, the FIAT Dino carried its 2-litre, 160bhp engine ahead of the driver in conventional manner and was notable as the first FIAT to employ four overhead camshafts and a limited-slip differential as standard. Steel bodied, the newcomer employed a FIAT five-speed gearbox and featured independent front suspension by means of wishbones and coil springs, live rear axle and disc brakes all round.

A longer-wheelbase Coupé model with Bertone coachwork appeared the following year, and in 1969 the V6 engine's capacity was increased to 2,418cc and a ZF gearbox and FIAT 130-type trailing-arm independent rear suspension adopted. Power went up to 180bhp (DIN) at 6,600rpm, whilst the larger engine gave maximum torque at 4,400rpm rather than the 2 litre's howling 6,000rpm. Styling changes were few; in the Spyder's case being confined to a new front grille, rubber centre strips in the bumpers and different wheel centres, while the interior benefited from improved switchgear and a carpeted boot. Built in Ferrari's Maranello plant following the former's takeover by FIAT in 1969, the FIAT Dino 2400 raced to 60mph in under 8 seconds and could reach 130mph while making all the right Ferrari noises. The Coupe was priced at 4,100,000 Lire and the Spyder at 3,930,000 in comparison to Ferrari's own new Dino at 5,500,000 Lire, the larger Iso at 6,300,000, Maseratis up to seven million and Lamborghinis higher still. FIAT Dino production ceased in 1972, with a mere 424 examples of the 2.4 litre Spyder built.

This must be the finest FIAT Dino Spyder in existence. The rare and more desirable 2.4 litre model, it was imported to the UK in 1976 and acquired by the British owner, an investment banker, in 1995. He immediately entrusted it to Ferrari specialist Talacrest, near Egham (Surrey) for a general check-up. The appearance of the car at the time was good but closer inspection revealed a number of issues, both body (surface rust) and worn mechanical parts. The owner therefore decided to commission a complete restoration, for which a comprehensive file is available totalling 47 pages of work carried out and relative photographic record. In short, no aspect of the car was neglected and no cost limit applied.

The engine, gearbox, steering, brakes and suspension were all completely rebuilt with new parts as required; the body was stripped to bare metal, all corrosion removed and new metal inserted before repainting in deep midnight blue; the interior was retrimmed in Cognac Connolly hide with dark blue wool carpets, modern seat belts, black mohair soft top and matching cover. The original dashboard wood, not renowned for its quality, was replaced with burr walnut of a similar shade but of a far better standard. All chromework has been replated and the wheels refurbished and shod with new tyres. The entire electrical system was rewired and an expensive sound system fitted. The gearbox was fitted with a longer fifth gear to enable relaxed high speed cruising and discreet electric power steering was added. The rebuild took a year and a half and the final cost (with labour charged at just £28/ hour) was £65,800. It is therefore not surprising that, to the best of our knowledge, no other collector has before or since undertaken the restoration of a FIAT Dino Spyder to the same standard.

Since completion the car has been used carefully in the summer months, primarily for trips from London to the owner's holiday homes in northern Italy and Sardinia, and proper maintenance has been carried out (by ex-Talacrest staff and Fabio Calligaris in Milan) commensurate to the restoration. This unique car is UK registered, offered with copy owners handbook, fresh MoT and a detailed restoration folder, and is ready to be enjoyed by its next owner.