1 of 13 Rhd "Chairs and Flares" built
Shortly before the Dino 246 GT’s production run ended in 1974, Ferrari upgraded the vehicle with wider Campagnola wheels – accommodating them by flaring the wheelarches – and ‘Daytona’ pattern bucket seats, featuring an elaborate stitch pattern. This version, known as the ‘Chairs and Flares’, has become one of the rarest and most desirable 246s.
It is particularly scarce in right-hand drive format: this vehicle, built in Maranello in October 1973, was one of just 13 produced for UK importer Maranello Concessionaires and dealer Ian Anthony Sales of Bury. Originally finished in a ‘Viola Metallizzato’ violet, it was first registered in the UK in May 1974.
In 2007, the vehicle underwent a major refurbishment: disassembled, its spaceframe and bodywork were resprayed, its interior re-covered and its mechanicals reconditioned. Now finished in Argento Silver, it ran for a decade before receiving a second overhaul in 2018 – when its carburettors were reconditioned and its fuel pipes and hoses, steering rack and brake callipers replaced. The odometer currently stands at just over 86,000 miles.
Shod in new Michelin XWX 205/70/14 tyres, this ‘Chairs and Flares’ model has been well looked-after and retains its unique, original features, such as the Becker Mexico radio, leather-cased toolkit and alloy-spoked Momo steering wheel. As the vehicle that led the charge to mid-engined sports cars, the Dino 246 GT is a living piece of automotive history; and for a piece of history, it is also astonishingly good fun.
In 1956, Enzo Ferrari’s son Alfredo – known to all as Dino – worked with the company’s outstanding engineer Vittorio Jano to develop a V6 racing engine. Dino died soon afterwards aged just 24; over the following decade, Enzo named a series of V6-powered competition vehicles after his lost son. And when in 1967 new regulations required that Formula 2 engines be based on a model fitted in at least 500 vehicles annually, Enzo took the leap into production line manufacturing – creating a V6-powered two-seater that would blaze a radical new trail for road-going sports cars.
With the engine fitted transversely behind the driver, the new berlinetta – badged as a Dino to distinguish it from Ferrari’s V12-powered flagships – was beautifully balanced and weighed little more than a tonne, giving it remarkable handling and responsiveness. Featuring Pininfarina’s classic, curving lines flowing over a tubular spaceframe, the vehicle appeared first as the Dino 206 GT with a 2.0-litre engine; just 152 of these were produced before Ferrari upped engine capacity to 2.4 litres, launching the 246 GT in 1969.
Featuring three twin-choke Weber carbs and an electronic ignition system, the V6’s output of 195bhp and 167lb ft reached the rear wheels via an all-synchro, five-speed manual gearbox. The independent wishbone suspension provided a comfortable ride – impressively so, given the Dino’s brilliant handling – and visibility was also excellent, thanks to its quarter lights and unique, curving rear window.
The Dino 246 GT soon became wildly popular. Nearly 2500 were built before production ended in 1974, while its mid-engine configuration was followed over the decades by classic Ferraris such as the 280 GTO, F40, 458 and LaFerrari. And small wonder – for this is an incredible car to drive.
“To guide a 246 through some curves, nowhere near the limit but just feeling it talk to you, is a rare and special experience,” says Evo magazine. “To be on board, looking at the cabin and the view ahead, feeling the steering and hearing that V6 howling its inimitable song remains one of the greatest pleasures ever afforded a motoring enthusiast.” GQ magazine agrees, noting that bends “are where the Dino really excels. Its steering is light and communicative. Everything that goes under the front wheels can be felt through your fingers, and even the most delicate movement of the wheel translates to precise output.”
“Engine noise, throttle response, wonderful steering and a heavenly gearbox,” enthuses Car magazine, calling the 246 “a thoroughbred sports car down to its last nut and bolt; engineering elevated to an art form.” And let’s give the last word to Autocar, whose comment captures both the engineering perfection and the charisma of this landmark vehicle: the 246, it says, is “the driver’s best friend, a gorgeous co-conspirator with whom to seek out fresh adventure wherever it might lie.”