1959 Ferrari Dino 246 Sport SpiderCoachwork by Fantuzzi
The Dino story started on 19th January 1932 when Enzo Ferrari’s wife, Laura, gave birth to their only child, Alfredino, who became known affectionately by the diminutive of his name ‘Dino’. Unfortunately he was not a strong child, suffering poor health with debilitating muscular dystrophy, eventually dying of nephritis when only 24 years old on 30th June 1956. Despite his constantly deteriorating health he worked at the Ferrari factory on various projects, one of the last of which is reputed to have been a V6 engine design with the talented engineer Vittorio Jano. Thus when the engine was eventually built in 1957, Enzo Ferrari dedicated the type and its V8 derivatives to the memory of his son, and they became known as Dino engines, with Dino script on the cam covers in the style of his son’s signature, although the cars that they were installed in wore Ferrari badges. In 1958 the V6 Dino engine powered Ferrari F1 cars to their first Manufacturers’ Championship, with team driver Mike Hawthorn taking the drivers’ title, the first British driver to do so.
The first Ferrari sports racing car to be fitted with a V6 Dino engine was a 2.0 litre quad cam model built on chassis ‘0740’ in 1958, followed by a 2.9 litre variant on chassis ‘0746’ a month later. Both these cars were left-hand drive and had 65 degree V6 engines, similar in overall layout to the first 1.5 litre F2 Dino engine that had made its race debut in early 1957. The 2.0 litre sports racing car made its race debut at Goodwood, England, in April 1958, where Peter Collins finished 2nd in the Sussex Trophy race. The second example, chassis ‘0746’, with the 2.9 litre engine, also made its debut in England. This time it was at the Silverstone circuit in May 1958, where Mike Hawthorn finished 3rd in the sports car event supporting the F1 Daily Express Trophy Race, which, incidentally, was won by Peter Collins in a Dino 246 F1 model. Chassis ‘0746’ was later fitted with a 250 Testa Rossa 3 litre V12 engine, and enjoyed success in the Bahamas and USA in the hands of Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez, and later in the hands of George Constantine.
The next chapter in the Dino engined sports racing car story was in March 1959, when a single cam per bank, 2.0 litre, 60 degree version of the V6 engine was fitted into what is believed was the original chassis ‘0740’. In its new form the car featured some revisions to the Scaglietti bodywork and was fitted with disc brakes, but by the time it made its first race appearance the body had been changed again, as it was now virtually identical to the 1959 Testa Rossa. It won its first race, the Coppa Sant’Ambroeus at Monza on 3rd May 1959 driven by Giulio Cabianca, but thereafter its racing glory went downhill, with retirements for a variety of reasons. The only redemption came in its final known competition appearance at the Auto Club Genova-organised Pontedecimo – Giovi hillclimb on 20th September 1959, where Giorgio Scarlatti finished 2nd overall.
Late in 1959, the 1960 versions of the Dino sports racing model went into production. They were virtually identical to the final version of the earlier car, but now featured right- hand drive making their visual similarity to the concurrent 250 Testa Rossa even greater. The likeness was such that the only easy way to tell the difference was to count the number of intake trumpets under the Plexiglass scoop on the bonnet. Three examples were constructed, all featuring Fantuzzi built bodies: chassis numbers ‘0776’, ‘0778’ and ‘0784’. The last of these, ‘0784’, was subsequently re-bodied in the early sixties in a style similar to that then being employed on the last of the front engine Testa Rossa models, albeit without the nostril nose configuration.
Chassis ‘0776’ was the first of the series to appear in competition, when it was entered by NART and driven by upcoming Mexican star Ricardo Rodriguez in the Bahamas in December 1959, recording a 2nd, 4th and a DNS in the three races entered. Chassis ‘0778’ made its debut as a Ferrari works entry just over a month later in Buenos Aires, where it was driven by Argentine veteran Froilan Gonzales and debonair Italian Ludovico Scarfiotti, but it retired with reported ignition problems. Both cars next appeared at the Targa Florio in May 1960, along with the third of the trio, the works entered chassis ‘0784’ on its maiden outing. This race was to provide the Dinos with their greatest success in a major international event: despite various outings into the scenery Phil Hill/ Wolfgang von Trips finished 2nd overall in chassis ‘0784’, Scarfiotti/ Mairesse/ Cabianca brought chassis ‘0778’ home 4th and the NART-entered chassis ‘0776’ driven by Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez finished 7th despite having had frequent contact with immovable objects and being rolled!
Chassis ‘0778’ suffered worse still when at the Nürburgring 1000km race in May 1960 it caught fire in a well documented refuelling incident in the pit lane, melting most of the rear and left side of the aluminium body, leaving the skeleton frame exposed. However, it was rebuilt by the Ferrari factory during the remainder of the year and then sold to Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team (NART) at the beginning of 1961. It was raced once by them at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1961, where it finished 5th overall driven by Hall/ Constantine taking the S-11 class victory in the process. In passing, the ‘Hall’ in the driving duo of ‘0778’ was a young Jim Hall who would later become an American legend with his ground breaking Chaparral sports racing cars. In its known subsequent races in the USA, ‘0778’ is believed to have been in 2 litre form (see Race History section, Note B), with the original 2.4 litre engine being put into storage by Luigi Chinetti.
The car was reunited with this 2.4 litre engine in 1997 when it was restored by Terry Hoyle in the UK, with a variety of modifications instigated by the then owner (see Ownership Chain, Note 3). In around 2006 the current UK based owner had the majority of these modifications deleted, and the car was in the main returned to its original configuration. The essential elements of this work were to restore the driver’s foot well and pedal box assembly to the original layout, to fit correct pattern exhaust manifolds, remove the roll hoop, and return the clutch and its operation to the original configuration. The alternator and safety fuel cell fitted during the restoration have been retained. In the current ownership the car has been meticulously maintained and has been successfully used in historic racing, where it has established itself as a force in its class. In the interests of safety it is understood that the Borrani wire wheels have recently been refurbished. Also, in the interests of safety and security, a fire extinguisher system is installed with the canister in the passenger side of the cockpit in front of the seat, plumbed to discharge in the engine bay and fuel pump area beneath the fuel tank.
This Dino 246 S has a similar appearance to the much sought-after ‘59/60 250 Testa Rossa; in reality it is rarer, as only three Dinos were built in this series, one 196 S and two 246 S models, and chassis ‘0778’ is the only 246 S remaining in this desirable body style. It also offers great performance, not far short of that of its larger 3 litre V12 cousin but at a more attractive price.
The car was bought by Ed Niles minus engine, radiator, passenger seat and some instruments.
A search was started to locate a suitable engine; the owner then realised just how rare the car was. Not having much joy, a complete Fiat Dino engine/ transmission assembly (4 camshaft) was purchased in Italy, although it was never fitted in the car. Just after the Fiat Dino engine had been bought, the owner learned that one Eugene Nearburg in Texas claimed to have the original broken engine. After protracted negotiations the purchase of the engine was made. The crated engine was received but never unpacked. At around the same time the owner learned that Sir Anthony Bamford in the UK had acquired a number of Dino engines from Ferrari, supposedly including one of the correct type.
During a trip to Mas du Clos, France, for a Club Ferrari France meeting in 1971, the owner mentioned to Pierre Bardinon that he had the car, and the latter was keen to own it, thus a sales deal was concluded in early December 1971. Part of the deal was that Pierre Bardinon would get the broken engine, ex-Nearburg, and purchase a suitable engine from Sir Anthony Bamford, to make one good engine. As an aside, the Fiat Dino engine/ transmission assembly was sold in Los Angeles.
When the car and engine were delivered to Pierre Bardinon, the still-crated engine was unpacked and was found not to be the original engine number ‘0778’, but engine number ‘0784’, and was perceived to be in a virtually unsalvageable state. It is not known whether this engine may have at some time been fitted in chassis number ‘0778’ during its life in the USA, prior to purchase by Edwin K. Niles. Further complications arose when it was found that the engine purchased from Sir Anthony Bamford was from a rear-engined Dino sports racing car and thus not suitable for installation in a front-engined car.
The two engines were sent to Graypaul Motors Ltd, Mountsorrel, Leics, England, for assessment, and rebuild in 1973. Comments from David Clarke of Graypaul Motors on the condition of the ex-Nearburg engine, ‘0784’, made in 1973, are as follows:
"I was under the impression that it was indeed a 196S engine which we had got hold of. It is certainly a front mounted motor, and we also have the gearbox to go with it. It is very badly broken, and the block is cracked in about five places, the crankshaft is badly scored on a couple of journals, and some hideous dry sump arrangement has been made up to bolt on the bottom of the engine which has, believe it or not, a Perspex inspection plate in it! I must admit that I am somewhat confused by the bore size of this broken engine, which appears to be 85mm, and definitely does not tally with a load of damaged and broken pistons which were deposited on our garage floor along with a lot of other bits, when the engine arrived."
"At the present time, both the block and crankshaft are away with specialist firms, who are doing their best to bring them back to useable standards."
David Clarke confirms that it was eventually decided that the block and crankshaft were beyond economical and safe repair with regard to longevity, and an agreement was made with Pierre Bardinon to build up a 2 litre engine for the car, which was done, and returned to him together with the gearbox, for installation in the chassis, along with the "scrap" block and other items pertaining to engine number ‘0784’. It is understood that the replacement engine was at some stage stamped ‘0778’ to match the chassis number.
The original engine number ‘0778’ (Internal # 3) had been retained by Luigi Chinetti Snr (it is not known what engine was in the car when sold by him, but it is assumed to be the 2 litre unit), and was given to ex-NART mechanic Wayne Sparling, Florida, USA, in 1979 as payment for work done. At some stage after the death of his father, exact date unknown, Luigi Chinetti Jnr retook possession the engine.
It is understood that as part of the purchase agreement between Terry Jones and Pierre Bardinon, the correct engine ‘0778’ (Internal # 3) would be supplied with the car. Pierre Bardinon organised an engine exchange deal with Luigi Chinetti Jnr, who would receive the engine then in the car (described in Note 2) plus a 268 sports racing engine in exchange for the 246S engine ‘0778’ (Internal # 3). Terry Hoyle advises that Marcel Massini was employed by Terry Jones to check the authenticity of the engine ‘0778’ (Internal # 3) at the time of the exchange at Sauro’s workshop in Bologna, Italy, at which Terry Hoyle was present, and he agreed that it was the correct engine.
Terry Hoyle installed the said engine in the car as part of a complete restoration in 1997. At this time, the driver’s side foot well was extended and the pedal box changed to provide greater legroom: this necessitated revised forward swept exhaust manifolds. At the same time various other modifications were carried out including the fitment of a roll bar and a modern safety fuel cell, whilst an alternator replaced the original dynamo.
The restoration included a bare metal re-spray, and at this stage it was possible to see the bare aluminium, where the owner noted signs of repair of earlier minor body damage, which led him to believe that the body was the replacement one, fitted by the factory during its post Nürburgring fire refurbishment. Subsequently provision of photographs and comments from earlier owners at various stages in its life (see period pictures when bought by Betz & Peters in 1969, and when bought by Ed Niles in 1971) back this up, as the details are continuous, and it was only first fully restored by Pierre Bardinon in the seventies. He confirms that no replacement of body panels was done in his ownership. It even retains the small circular access flap in the bonnet for an extended dipstick (to check the oil level without removing the bonnet), a tiny detail that would have almost certainly have been lost, had a re-body have taken place.
Report by Keith Bluemel, member of the IAC/PFA (International Advisory Council for the Preservation of the Ferrari Automobile), based on a visual inspection of the above motor car in November 2009 and information compiled from my own independent research and acknowledged expert sources.
Please note that whilst the above information is supplied in good faith and to the best of our knowledge and belief, it is provided without any guarantee whatsoever (of accuracy or otherwise) on behalf of Kidston SA or the seller.