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The Mid-Engine Ferrari Is Now 50 Years Old

Road & Track logo Road & Track 7/3/2018 Chris Perkins
In 1968, a legend hit the road for the first time-the Dino 206 GT.: The Mid-Engine Ferrari Is Now 50 Years Old© Ferrari The Mid-Engine Ferrari Is Now 50 Years Old

Yesterday, 150 Dinos—206, 246, and 308 GT4 among them—descended on the Ferrari factory in Maranello to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic name. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the mid-engine Ferrari road car, which to this day, helps define the brand.

Looking at the Dino today gives us a good reminder of how far the mid-engine Ferrari has come in the last 50 years. Well, 51 years, sort of—the Dino 206 GT debuted in 1967, but it didn't hit the road until 1968. Ferrari admits that it probably should've celebrated the 50th anniversary last year, but it had too much going on heralding the 70th anniversary of the brand. But that's besides the point.

a car parked in front of a house: The 1968 Dino 206 GT© Ferrari The 1968 Dino 206 GT

The original Dino was positioned as an entry-level model, and it wasn't actually called a "Ferrari," as such, so as not to dilute the brand's big GT cars. Its mid-engine chassis took inspiration from Ferrari's brilliant sports prototypes, though, and its engine was derived from a V6 proposed by Enzo Ferrari's son, Dino, before his death in 1956.

Ferrari had raced a number of V6s since the mid-1950s, but they were never used in road cars. A 1967 Formula 2 regulation stipulated that engines used in the series had to be road car-based, and produced in quantities of 500 or more. That was too much for a small company like Ferrari, so it teamed up with Italy's biggest, Fiat. Fiat would build the V6 for use in a new front-engine GT it was developing, while Ferrari would use it in its entry-level mid-engine sports car. Both would carry the Dino badge.

a close up of an engine: The Mid-Engine Ferrari Is Now 50 Years Old© Ferrari The Mid-Engine Ferrari Is Now 50 Years Old

This V6, with an odd 65-degree cylinder bank, debuted first as a 2.0-liter making 180 hp, with a 2.4-liter 195-hp version arriving a few years later. On paper, the Dino V6 may have paled in comparison to the 350-hp 4.4-liter V12 in the Daytona, but it was more than enough power to rival the 180-hp Porsche 911 S.

The next Dino was quite different from the first. Instead of another two-seater with Pininfarina design, Ferrari turned to Bertone for a 2+2 with a mid-mounted V8. Its engine was enduring, providing the basis for all Ferrari V8s used up until the 360 Modena ended production in 2004.

a car parked in a parking lot: The 1975 Ferrari 308 GTB© Ferrari The 1975 Ferrari 308 GTB

In 1975, Ferrari created a proper successor to the original Dino, the Pininfarina-designed, two-seat 308 GTB, which used the same engine as the Dino GT4. That set the template for all Ferrari' V8s to come.

T he Dino nameplate died in 1980—the two-seat 308 was only ever badged as a Ferrari—but its legacy lives on in the 488 Pista of today. It's amazing to think there's a link between the two, though. What started out in the late 1960s as Ferrari's answer to the Porsche 911 has morphed into a wild 710-hp monster that you can't call "entry-level" anymore. 

So cheers, to 50 or 51 years of mid-engine Ferraris, and here's to the next half-century.

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