In the name of the son
Among many cars consigned to history by Enzo Ferrari, one in particular is clouded by a myth that seems to try to deny its authenticity.
In 1967, when Dino 206GT was presented at Salone di Torino, it was immediately named a “baby Ferrari” due to the reduced size of the car body and the six-cylinder mid-engine.
"Never put the cart before the horse” - Enzo Ferrari was a strong believer that Maranello’s reds should fit 12-cylinder engines in the front. The new berlinetta was obviously a great surprise.
Enzo Ferrari named the small and revolutionary creature after his son Alfredo, known as Dino, who contributed in designing the engine and who died at the early age of 24 due to a severe muscular dystrophy.
Fans are aware of Enzo's love and devotion towards his son but the reason that drove the farther to create a new brand for Dino is rather controversial. A new logo replaced the cavallino rampante (which means ambitious horse in Italian) and was the outline of Alfredo's signature on a yellow background recalling the famous brand of the older sisters.
According to some, the Dino brand was used instead of the Ferrari one because a less than 12 cylinders model would not have been worthy of the ambitious horse. Others argue that some influential customers, fearing the depreciation of their cars following the introduction of a lower end model, convinced Enzo Ferrari to adopt a different brand.
The ambitious horse, although, was already mounted on four-and six-cylinder Ferrari cars that had been running in Formula 2 for years. So there goes that theory.
In the words of the expert Brian Long:
“The only logical reason for Enzo Ferrari naming the car Dino was to honor his son. After all, his love of the boy was deep and well known, and had the different brand name been used in an attempt to distance the car from the Ferrari stable, he’d have hardly used his beloved son’s name and signature.”
For further authenticity, it is enough to think that it’s close to impossible to find a Dino without a Ferrari crest on its body. Many owners and importers too labeled their cars with the seal they deserved. I believe it’s a kind of "user-generated branding" * ante litteram, a spontaneous social process that over time has repositioned the car where the public considered most appropriate.
I believe in Dino’s uniqueness for four specific reasons.
Firstly, it’s a real authentic product. Dino proved to be a Ferrari despite its horse brand had somehow been denied. Because of its design, dynamic qualities and constructive care, the Dino had the Maranello's red DNA. Authentic products are rare, the ones you can recognize the producer even without seeing the brand. Dino is definitely one of these.
The second reason is the courage that this car represented for Ferrari. The courage to break a pre-established scheme, a self-imposed and anachronistic limit that could have risked braking the innovative thrust of Maranello. The strong and proud father found that courage in his son, young and weak but with the same passion.
Nevertheless, without the Dino, today we wouldn’t have the series of mid-engine Gran Turismo embodying the very essence of the ambitious horse: 308 GTB, 288 GTO, 348, F 355, 360 Modena, F430, 458 Italy and even today's 488 GTB. Without that controversial car, which was "almost a Ferrari" according to the brochure of the time, today's Ferrari would not be herself.
Another feature that makes Dino unique is the story of its name: a romantic branding, reckless, perhaps haggard if considered with the criteria of contemporary marketing, but also the sweetest dedication Enzo Ferrari could devote to his missing son.
To my son.
- Pictures: Dino 246GT, 1969; photographer: unknown; source: Andoniscars
- English translation by Paris Nobile