Putting the engine behind the driver was the winning trend in racing in the early 1960s. Ferrari experienced the advantages of the design first hand, winning the 1961 Grand Prix champion-ship with the 156 F1, and, two years later fielding the first midengine car to win LeMans, the 250 P.

The 1972 Ferrari Dino 246 GT.
The 1972 Ferrari Dino 246 GT looked identical to the 206 model.
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So it was that Sergio Pininfarina and a number of Ferrari dealers began pushing Enzo to make a midengine road car.

“He kept insisting it was too dangerous,” the effervescent coachbuilder recalled. “While he felt it was fine for racing and professional drivers, he was against making midengine sports cars for customers. He was afraid of the safety, of building a car that was too dangerous.”

Ferrari finally relented in 1965. “When Mr. Ferrari finally said yes, he said, ‘Okay, you make it not with a Ferrari, but with a Dino,’” Pininfarina said. That meant the car would use a six-cylinder engine instead of one of Ferrari’s more-powerful V-12s. “In his mind, less powerful meant less danger for the customers,” Pininfarina explained. “And therefore I had the permission to develop the Dino.” The name memorialized Enzo’s son, Dino, who had died in 1956.

The 1972 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS.
The 1972 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS featured a one-piece removable targa top panel.

The Dino 206 S prototype made its debut at the Paris Auto Show in October 1965. It was built on the 206 SP race-car chassis and had a longitudinally mounted 2.0-liter V-6. The car was so well-received that a year later, at the Turin Show, a second Dino 206 S prototype was displayed. Known as the Dino Berlinetta GT, it also had a longitudinal V-6, but styling was smoother and incorporated attractive covered headlights.

A final production prototype was shown at 1967’s Turin Show. It looked almost identical to the Dino Berlinetta GT, but the engine was mounted transversely, directly atop the gearbox and differential, between the driver’s compartment and the rear axle. Fiat in Turin built the 2.0-liter V-6, which would also be used it in its prestige model, the front-engine Dino coupe and spyder.

The 206 Dino GT went into production in 1968. It boasted a top speed over 140 mph, incredibly balanced handling, and a design among the postwar era’s most beautiful. It was an instant hit with press and public alike.

“The Dino 206 GT is a wonderful car ... an engineering masterpiece,” said America’s Sports Car Graphic. England’s CAR seconded the opinion, noting “(T)he 206GT Dino stands out as one of the most advanced grand touring cars of our time.”

The 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS.
The 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS concluded
Ferrari's best-selling series up to the time.

Typical of Ferrari’s almost-constant model updates -- and likely also in response to Porsche increasing the size of the engine in its 911 -- Maranello followed the 206 GT in 1969 with the Ferrari Dino 246 GT. It looked identical to the 206 save the addition of a Cavallino rampante on the fuel-filler door.

That it is nearly impossible to visually differentiate a Ferrari Dino 246 GT from a 206 is a tribute to Pininfarina and his men, for the cars had different wheelbases. To increase cabin room, wheelbase increased to 92.1 inches (2340mm) from 89.7 (2280mm). Coachwork was more durable steel in place of the 206’s aluminum. And the V-6 jumped to 2.4-liters (hence the 246 name), and horsepower increased by 15 to 195.

The longer wheelbase and more-powerful engine made a good thing even better. “Of all the mid-engine cars of which I have had the experience (of testing) the [Ferrari Dino 246 GT] stands head and shoulders above the rest ... ,” Dennis Jenkinson wrote in Motor Sport. “(O)nce you have experienced it, it makes all front-engined or rear-engined cars obsolete.”

Minute updates and refinements created three 246 GT series: type L, type M, and type E. The 246’s biggest change came with the March 1972 Geneva Auto Show introduction of the 246 GTS, which featured a one-piece removable targa top panel.

By the time assembly of the Ferrari Dino 246 GT and GTS ceased in 1974, production, including the 206 GT, totaled nearly 4,000. Ferrari’s first midengine road car had become its best-selling series up to that time.

Learn about these other great Ferrari Road Cars:

166 MM
250 GT SWB
365 CaliforniaTestarossa
212 Inter
400 Superamerica
365 GT 2+2
F40
340 America
250 GTE
365 GTB/4 Daytona
348
375 America
250 GT/L Lusso
365 GTC/4
456 GT
375 MM
330 GT 2+2
512 BBi
F355
250 Europa GT
500 Superfast
400i
F50
250 GT Boano
275 GTB/4
308 GT4
550 and 575
410 Superamerica
275 GTS
308 and 328
360 and F430
250 GT Coupe
Dino 246 GT
Mondial
Enzo
250 GT Spyder California
330 GTC
288 GTO
612 Scaglietti

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