The original Dino 206 GT was Ferrari's first foray into mid-engined sports cars for consumers. While the mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout was well-established already as the preferred layout for motorsports, passenger cars had only just begun to adopt this layout. And it was begrudgingly, at Mr. Sergio Pininfarina's insistence, that Mr. Enzo Ferrari agreed to build a mid-engined car for his customers, thinking them too difficult for non-racers to handle. But clearly Enzo, and the design world, had been shaken by competitor Lamborghini's tour-de-force, the Miura. But unlike the Miura, the Dino 206 GT was to be powered by a 2.0L V6 that Enzo believed wouldn't allow his customers to get into too much trouble.
But the Dino was interesting as it helped to launch the career of designer Leonardo Fioravanti. He had been at Pininfarina for about two years when he was allowed to design the 206 GT and frankly, his inexperience shows. Even as the world was turning away from the voluptuous forms of the post-war years, the 206 GT clung onto them. Which isn't to say that they're not pretty, they simply weren't on design's cutting edge. It's almost as though Leonardo feared (or was directed against) straying too far from convention. But some of Mr. Marcello Gandini's eventual planar forms were already evident on the Miura and show cars were also certainly going in that direction. Considered in that light, the Dino 206 GT seems like it was an anachronism when released in 1968.
Conservative design aside, it also became Ferrari's first volume model (the 246 GT, that is) in spite of the fact that it had a Fiat-built powertrain. But the fact that it was a sales success probably had more to do with the fact that it was the 'budget' Ferrari and that the Dino was a great-handling car. It simply wasn't such a handful as their V12s.
Now, I can hear most of you saying, "Yoav, I just paid close to half-a-million dollars for my 'Chairs and Flares' Dino, how dare you even insinuate that it was an anachronism when released or cast doubt on its beauty?" To which I have to reply, "I said it was pretty and you paid how much?!" But in truth, its design isn't much of a departure from Ferrari's P (for prototype) cars of the early 1960s. Which is why I'm confident in my assertion that Leonardo played it safe, whether by directive or lack of experience. So let's talk about why it is pretty...