NZ Classic Driver
Just occasionally, if we’re lucky, dreams can become reality. That happened to me in 2018, when I drove a Ferrari Dino 246GT, thanks to the generosity of its owners, John Skevington and Jo Ruane.
NZ Classic Driver featured this car to celebrate the Dino’s 50th anniversary and it was chosen because of its low mileage, long ownership and pristine condition. I could not have found a better example to write about. Until then I’d never even sat in a Ferrari, much less driven one. For me, like so many people, driving a Ferrari was a long-held dream and, if I’d thought about it, I would have been sure it would remain a dream.
It all changed when John and Jo trusted me enough to drive one of their two 360 Spiders and the Dino. It was an unforgettable day. The problem with dream cars is there’s always the dreaded possibility that reality doesn’t match the dream. I’m happy to say this was not such an occasion. If anything, driving the Dino exceeded my high expectations for the simple reason that it did everything I asked without fuss or bother, when I had expected some Latin temperament. The engine started easily and idled smoothly, and there was no need to take great care in getting it moving without stalling. The clutch action was smooth and there was none of the transmission wind-up you can provoke in some Italian cars.
The gear lever snicked through its chromed gate, not like a hot knife through butter but with a satisfying mechanical precision. And the Dino is a precision instrument, best illustrated by the steering. I’m convinced I could have taken the same corner any number of times and run over a 10-cent piece in the same spot each time. In reality, I’m not that good a driver, but the Dino is so good, so competent, that it made me feel capable of doing that.
It goes without saying that the car handles exactly as you would expect. Body roll is something for other cars and the brakes matched the performance, which was more than adequate. Of course, the driving experience is accompanied by a stunning mechanical symphony coming from just behind you. A radio is not just unnecessary in a Dino; it could be viewed as sacrilege.
Martin Buckley wrote in Classic & Sports Car magazine that, while the Dino’s focus was still the engine, it was a clear attempt to bring the rest of the car to the same standard, unlike some of its bigger brothers. I disagree. I think the Dino is first and foremost an exquisite, unmistakable shape – and the fact that the rest of the car matches its beauty is simply a bonus. Oddly, the Dino’s designer has largely remained anonymous – he was Aldo Brovarone, a Pininfarina employee for many years. He also designed the Maserati A6GS, Ferrari Superamerica and Lancia Gamma coupé but, even if the Dino was the only thing he penned, he would still rate as a great designer.
If I sound a bit over the top, I make no apology for that. The car really is that good. Just looking at its beautiful lines and details is the stuff of dreams, and driving it stands out as my most memorable motoring experience. Ever!