Reaching the final stages of preparation at a pristine body-shop in Gaborone, Botswana, is one of the most beautiful Ferraris ever built. The car in question is a 1970 model-year Dino 246 GT Berlinetta, one of the so-called M series Dinos.
Brian Joss – The Ferrari is being entered for Concours South Africa 2017 jointly by its restorer, Carlos de Abreu, and the owners, Tom Campher Motors, of Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
The car comes to the lawns of Concours South Africa at Sun City with a sense of great expectation. For Carlos de Abreu is the man who built the winning car last year, a De Tomaso Pantera GT5, owned by his wife Fatima. And his own car, an achingly-immaculate 1985 Ferrari Testarossa, took the runner-up prize.
“This year we will be bringing two cars,” says Carlos. “The De Tomaso, which will be on display as the 2016 winner only, and not entered in the 2017 competition, and the Dino, which I am completing in time for the event for Vic Campher.”
When the first series 206 Dino was introduced in 1968 by Ferrari, it was seen as an entry-level car along the lines of the rival Porsche 911 – a first step on the rung to supercardom , a rarefied stratosphere that was at the time populated on the highest plane by the likes of the Ferrari 365
GTB/4 Daytona, and Lamborghini’s Miura.
In this era, all “proper” Ferraris were powered by V12 engines, even though there had indeed been some four-cylinder Ferrari racers that built the legend in the 1950’s. For a road-going Ferrari to have a mere V6 installed amidships, in a relatively tiny car, was perhaps deemed a bit on the risky side by Enzo, very aware of the pitfalls of diluting a brand that was even then rated as the pinnacle of the car world.
For this “entry” car from Maranello, badging that simply said “Dino” was affixed to the nose, the tail and the horn button in the centre of the leather-covered steering wheel. Hints to its lineage were given in the Modena yellow background to the “Dino” badging, written in a flowing script rather than block letters.
Brand awareness aside, the fact that it utilised a V6 engine was undoubtedly the overriding factor in the car’s name. Enzo’s son, Alfredino Ferrari, had suggested the V6 configuration for a 1.5-litre Formula Two Ferrari engine in 1955, shortly before his untimely death from muscular dystrophy the following year. The race cars that subsequently used this V6 engine design in the 1950’s and indeed, in the World Championship-winning Formula One cars of the 1961 season, were known to insiders as “Dinos”.
The fact that the Dino 246 doesn’t wear Ferrari badging today, nearly 50 years after its introduction, has, if anything, increased its collector value. Anyone who knows anything about Ferraris is aware that this is indeed a pure Ferrari, and the emotional ties that the great Enzo had to the name only adds to its cachét in 2017.
In recent years Dino values have soared, not least because the car is an absolute delight to drive. In the case of the later 246 model introduced from 1969, its small-capacity 2 419 cc V6 engine, with single overhead camshafts per bank and three dual-choke Webers, makes a music that delights the ears of both the driver and of passersby. The Dino 246 delivers just 143 kW of power, but it has effortless low-range torque. And the perfectly-balanced mid-engine handling is appreciated by Ferraristi as amongst the finest of its era, and special even today.
The Dino, being the first volume-produced mid-engined Ferrari, can be seen as the progenitor of all the great mid-engined cars that succeeded it – such as the 308, the F355 and through to the awesome 488 of today.
Commenting on the restoration of the Dino 246 GT owned by his company, Vic Campher says wryly, “I took the car to my friend Carlos just to have it ‘tidied-up’ a little.”
But De Abreu, ever-the-perfectionist, had other ideas. “The car was in such great, basic shape that it needed to be brought back to original-spec perfection, ” he says.
Vic Campher adds that the restoration has been far more than cosmetic, with all the mechanical parts, including the engine, having been rebuilt to suit.
The interior of the car is also completely new, as to original factory specifications.
“I am just happy to show the car, I don’t really worry about whether it will win or not. This car was owned previously by Giorgio Cavalieri, President of the Southern Equitorial Ferrari Automobili Club (SEFAC) and he says this Dino was his inspiration to revitalise the club after it had lost a certain amount of energy back in the 1970’s.”
*Apart from the Dino 246, Tom Campher Motors have also entered their rare Volvo 445 station wagon from the 1950’s in Concours South Africa 2017.
Concours South Africa 2017 at Sun City runs from Friday August 4 to Sunday August 6. The event opens with the HAGI Conference on Value in the Classic Car Market www.vccm.co.za on Friday morning.
While this conference will undoubtedly attract collectors entering their cars in Concours South Africa 2017, it is open to anyone interested in classic and collectable cars from an investment point of view.