(Submitted by Filippo R.) Most people are familiar with the mid-engine “Dino” 206/246 GT versions but not so many know the sister convertible Fiat Dino Spider. Long neglected and obscure, the Spider lived the shadows of the more famous “Ferrari” Dino variety.
The Spider retains basically the same engine as her famous cousin Dino 246. It also has wonderful curves penned by Pininfarina and to my mind, has aged quite well. I can remember when (just ten years ago?) these cars were not worth very much. They were expensive to maintain (never mind restore). Now things are different. The general uplift in the classic car market as well as the stratospheric rise of the Dino 246 have taken the Dino Spider up with them. We are now seeing fully restored vehicles on the roads and the neglected basket case is indeed very rare.
There were essentially two versions of the Spider – although as with many Italian cars, the lines were blurred with overlapping parts and details. The V6 2.0L version was launched in 1966 and the 2.4L in 1969 and was produced until 1973. The latter version benefited from an improved suspension and more power. There was even a coupé version designed by Bertone (CC here).
Dinos were developed in order to homologate the Formula 2 racing car engine for Ferrari (you needed a minimum of 500 commercial units) and were an attempt by Ferrari to move into more mass-market cars. Ultimately 1583 Dino Spiders were built (over 70% were the 2.0L version). For the record, the 206/246 Dinos were never branded “Ferrari” so as not to dilute the brand.
The Fiat Dino Spider is no-doubt a fun car. Top down or top up, the engine sounds great, is reliable if well maintained and not so sophisticated to discourage the DYI type – except perhaps the Dinoplex. I find it funny that the factory built in a redundancy switch that can activate a separate ignition system in case the Dinoplex breaks! (There are “Normale” or “Emergenza” modes). A bit loose in terms of handling (this was improved with the 2.4L version and the independent rear suspension) but it does not really matter in the end.
I have owned my 2.0L Dino Spider for five years now. It is a “second-version” production from 1967 which has lovely knock-off wheels. It has a simple interior with vinyl seats, wood steering wheel and Becker radio. One quirky feature is the two-tone horn. It makes one sound when in “city” mode and another louder sound when on “autostrada” mode. The soft top is a breeze to open or close and can be done in less than a minute.
I found it as a “black plate” California car in decent shape that needed a “light” restoration – or so I thought. In the end – and after a two-year “refurbishment” – it is now in great shape and is my go-to car on sunny days.
One of the most valuable features for me is the 2+2 configuration. Granted they are not full-sized adult seats but are perfect for my two young daughters who thoroughly enjoy riding in the back with the top down and the music blaring. Eventually, they will outgrow those seats but I will have passed on my classic-car passion and they will have created their own memories of that experience.
This car was photographed in the hills behind Padova, Italy and looks perfectly at home there, patiently waiting for me to finish my caffé and continue the adventure.
Related: CC 1970 Fiat Dino Coupe