Enzo Ferrari was very fond indeed of racing. Some people believed that he built cars for sale so that he could carry on with his racing, rather than the other way around. He was mortified therefore when in 1965 the authority overseeing Formula Two racing stipulated that in future F2 engines had to have no more than six cylinders, and at least 500 copies had to be manufactured. Since this was more than Ferrari were building for all models each year it seemed an impossible target for them to meet. Formula 2 was important for Ferrari's racing team, as a proving ground for new talent who would eventually graduate to the vital Formula One. It was time for a tie-up with a bigger company.
An agreement was made with Fiat, who felt that being associated with such a prestigious (although relatively small) manufacturer would be good for their image. They would produce the 500 engines and install them in a suitable car.
Things did not go exactly the way that Ferrari envisaged. They had hoped to manufacture the engines themselves but Fiat, perhaps fearing that Ferrari would not be up to the task of producing so many, insisted on having full control of their manufacture. So it came to pass that not only the Fiat Dino, and the Ferrari Dino, came to have engines with Fiat's name prominently stamped on them!
Why the name Dino? Enzo Ferrari had a son named Alfredo who was nicknamed 'Dino' and he had encouraged Ferrari's engineers to build a V-6 quad cam engine but sadly he died of muscular dystrophy before the project was finished. The engine was named after his son and Fiat were quite happy to cooperate with this name.
The Fiat Dino first emerged at the 1966 Turin Motor Show as a two seater spider, and a few months later a 2+2 coupe version was unveiled. Externally at least these look like two different cars since the spider had been designed by Pinninfarina, and the coupe was created by Bertone, who not only produced a very attractive looking car but also gave it a much more attractive interior. Pinninfarina's spider had a dash coated in vinyl of all materials; standard Fiat switchgear was fitted and the rim of the steering wheel was of cheap plastic instead of wood! However these imperfections were soon fixed.
The engine was a 2 litre V6 with double overhead camshafts and a power output of 158 horsepower was claimed. Interestingly enough the same engine was fitted to the Ferrari 206 GT (complete with the Fiat stamp) but Ferrari claimed a power output of 180 horsepower despite the fact that it was made in Fiat's factory by the same workers and on the same production line as the car that went into the Fiat Dino! Perhaps there was a little bit of salesman's licence here.
In 1969 (the same year that Fiat bought 50 percent of Enzio's company) both companies introduced a new 2.4 litre engine and later that year production of both the Fiat Dino and the 246 GT were put together on Ferrari's production line at Maranello. A total of about 7800 Fiat Dinos were built before production ended in 1973.