1970 Fiat Dino 2400 Spider

1970 Fiat Dino 2400 Spider

Tim meets a genuine Italian beauty – a Dino Spider that has been entered into the Masters’ Class for next month’s NZCC Intermarque Concours at Ellerslie.
I was sorely tempted to turn up to my appointment with a sharp black suit and sunglasses. My assignation was with a black Fiat Dino, which had been owned by someone with strong connections to the most powerful family in Italy – the Agnelli family, owners of the entire Fiat Empire and with connections to who knows what; which means you had better do what you are told and be on your best behaviour, otherwise…?
This expensive and rare black convertible was sold new to the Treviso area in Italy, first registered in March 1970

This expensive and rare black convertible was sold new to the Treviso area in Italy, first registered in March 1970. The first owner was Prince Egon Sebastian von Furstenberg, a very famous fashion stylist of the era. He was the son of Ira Furstenberg, renowned Italian actress, and nephew of Mr Gianni Agnelli, chairman of Fiat Auto. This vehicle was believed to be his first car. Egon died in May, 2005.
The second owner was a well-known surgeon, born in 1915, again in the Treviso area of Italy. He bought the car in 1971 and sold it the same year to a friend of Gianni Agnelli (they were at the same school). In 1993, the car was sold to Mr Alexandre Alexandre, the Fiat/Alfa/Lancia agent for Treviso.
My meeting was at noon under the Harbour Bridge at Westhaven Marina, on a stormy but otherwise quiet Tuesday. Contemplating the possibility of a Mafia connection, it was with some trepidation that I noted lots of deep dark water around – not to mention concrete being poured into the nearby motorway extension.

The white box
As the black Dino pulled up, its immaculately suited driver stepped out with a white box file under his arm. I recognised this man from somewhere else. He handed me the box. My colleagues will vouch for the fact that my short-term memory would not save me in a life or death situation, and it wasn’t about to assist on this occasion either. “Tim Nevinson,” he said, “I recognised you, you were on Targa weren’t you?”
I nodded, brain rattling through the many people you meet on such an event. The sharp suit did not match up to the light casual atmosphere on Dunlop Targa 2005. Targa is like that, though – everyone in Nomex overalls with common interest, and you could just as easily be talking to a merchant banker, a plumber, managing director or storeman. I took a look inside the box file, which contained every detail you could think of with regard to the black beauty we stood alongside, all neatly typed and bound. A professional then, no question. “Yellow Fiat 125, Mark McCaughan,” he said. The synchromesh in my brain finally found a gear.
Mark was one of a large group of Fiat Waikato boys (and girls) who make up a substantial chunk of the Dunlop Targa midfield, each with a fabulous team spirit, handy with a spanner, a great Kiwi sense of humour and a passion for anything Italian – usually cars, wine and cappuccino, but I suspect other things that come in alluring curvy packages as well. Now I knew that the worst I could expect from this smart suit was a relentless dig about something I’d said in the magazine, some witty repartee, and a deep knowledge of Italian cars, in particular the ones he owns. Mark’s interest in things Italian began when his father owned a Fiat 125, and Mark followed in his footsteps, and now rallies one for fun. I was on safe ground. Relatively.

The Money
Mark had scoured the world for the nicest Dino Spider he could find, and here it was, probably the nicest in Europe, with one of the best provenances you could wish for, and complied and road registered in New Zealand. When Alexandre, the Fiat Agent in Treviso, bought the car in 1993, it was sound and straight with good mechanics, but needed a minor cosmetic restoration and an overhaul. This work was professionally completed in 1994 and the car was sold in 2005, and exported from Italy for the current owner.
The light tan leather interior couldn’t be a better match for the shiny black exterior, and Pininfarina’s detailing IS, as usual, superb
It is currently one of only three Fiat Dino 2400 Spiders in New Zealand – the only black one and the only one in the North Island. Amazingly, 11 Fiat Dinos are believed to reside in New Zealand – quite remarkable given that every Fiat Dino was built left-hand-drive, something our authorities struggle to get their heads around, and the fact that no Fiat Dinos were ever officially sold in English-speaking countries.
The coupé was roughly 165,000 lire (five per cent) more expensive than the Spider, and a Fiat dealer, at the time, could have sold you a 124 Spider, a 124 coupé and an 850 coupé for the price of one Dino. A new AC Cobra and a new E-Type both cost less than the Fiat’s weighty premium when new.
Mark said he had made a few bob as a computer and IT systems designer, and has used the comfort zone from that to set up something else he knows and cares about – it’s called Platinum Classic Car Services – searching for, purchasing and importing very specialist cars for people who want something just that little bit different. It doesn’t stop there. Mark will arrange restoration, overhaul, storage and care of specialist cars in the manner expected of someone who has the money and inclination, but not the time to get engaged in such activities. Basically a turn-key classic, when and where you want it, prepared to a standard you expect to be able to drive as you wish, with none of the heartache. Of course, you can choose to use any part of this service to suit your needs. Each car has a professional surveyor’s report on it, and whatever history is known, neatly and professional presented.

The Fixer
Mark says, “A customer of ours wanted a very specific vehicle – a Fiat Dino 2400 Spider. There were only 420 of these ever made, so our work was cut out for us!
“With the help of our partners overseas and here in New Zealand, we managed to locate two superb examples of the vehicle – one in silver, and one in black. Both were sitting in a private collection in Treviso, in Northern Italy. Our client decided he wanted the black one, so we did a full survey and report on it.”
I looked at the survey, and whilst the car looks really nice, the survey is extremely thorough and refreshingly honest. Taking a look through the white box, everything is there, from original registration papers, bills, handbook, workshop manual and history, to the survey and a road test report.
Mark goes on, “The client chose to inspect the vehicle in person. Given the value of the vehicle and the rarity of the marque, we invited New Zealand’s prime expert on Fiats to join us – Malcolm Simmonds, from Dino Enterprises in Cambridge (www.fiatparts.co.nz). The next phase was to get the vehicle back here in one piece. That was not without its issues, what with the collection of the vehicle in Italy, actual shipping arrangements, containerisation, insurance, MAF and customs. Difficult at both ends.
“To comply a vehicle on the roads here in New Zealand, regulations more suited to modern Japanese imports have to be surmounted – from seat belts to brake rotors to windscreens. This is our headache, not the customer’s. Having jumped through the hoops of finding the vehicle, shipping it, getting it here into New Zealand and getting it on-road legal, we have the great pleasure of delivering it, or of course storing it for a sunny day.”

The Pool
Mark is good mates with Mike Lowe, Phil Sutton, and Mal Simmonds. All are Dunlop Targa competitors, and owners of most of the Fiat Dinos in New Zealand, so between them they have an immense pool of knowledge, parts and expertise on these rare thoroughbreds. We have featured Mal Simmonds’ and Phil Sutton’s Bertone coupés in NZ Classic Car before, so much of the Fiat Dino story has been told in these pages (NZCC, August 1998 and October 2004). This, however, is the first time we have been lucky enough to sample Pininfarina’s curvaceous Spider version, a totally different body style to Bertone’s coupé. Pininfarina’s coachwork gives the Fiat a mini-Ferrari look, set off with the same Cromodora elektron-alloy wheels as Ferrari’s mid-engined Dino.
The Dino has a place in history, being the first production car with Magneti Marelli electronic ignition
The Spider’s hood was immaculate and very easy to raise and lower, a blessing in the conditions we had. The light tan leather interior couldn’t be a better match for the shiny black exterior, and Pininfarina’s detailing was, as usual, superb. The dashboard and much of the interior fittings were the same as the coupés, as was the wailing engine note. The Spider has a 270mm shorter wheelbase, was 373mm shorter and 240kg lighter than the coupé – but both use the same running gear which, in turn, was altered quite significantly during each car’s production life.
The early (1967-’68) 1987cc Dinos had an aluminium block, wet liners, alloy heads, dohc per bank and three twin-choke Weber DCN carburettors. The cam chains are driven, not by the nose of the crank, but from an idler driven by the crankshaft using almost square-cut gears, giving the characteristic wail quite different to most V6 engines.

The Dino has a place in history, being the first production car with Magneti Marelli electronic ignition (Dinoplex), a points-triggered CDI system so prone to failure that a factory emergenza button switched the system back to a conventional points ignition.
‘Ferrari’ Dino 206/246GT owners will be quite satisfied their mid-engined beauty has a genuine Ferrari power unit, and Fiat Dino owners will tell you their engine is Ferrari V6. The truth of the matter is that the engine block and head castings on the Dino V6, which powered both the Fiat and Ferrari Dino road cars, have Fiat, not Ferrari, markings, and every V6 component is listed with a Fiat part number! So, although the Fiat Dinos are normally referred to as having Ferrari engines, to be strictly accurate the ‘Ferrari’ Dino was fitted with a Fiat engine! Similarly, the wheels used by Ferrari on its Dino have Fiat part numbers!
Certainly, Ferrari distanced itself from the small mid-engined V6 sports car which never officially wore the prancing horse badge. You could say that ‘Dino’ was a marque in its own right, translated into the less attractive English vernacular meaning ‘Little Freddy’. The arrangement whereby Fiat financed the production of the V6 called for a new name, and Dino was chosen as the V6 owes its original conception to Enzo Ferrari’s son, Alfredino. Enzo and his lad had many discussions about using a V6.
Known affectionately as ‘Dino’, Little Fred died in June 1957, but not before Vittorio Jano’s 1955 V6 was named in his honour. The 1498cc Dino 196 V6 was fired up at Maranello in 1956, and placed in the Type 156 racer in 1957. The road car engine in our black convertible Fiat owes much to that original race engine, albeit after much development from Vittorio Jano, Aurelio Lampredi and Franco Rocchi.

Power games
Like many of our very favourite classic cars, this one would not have existed but for the international motor sport class rules of the period. Unlike most homologation specials, it was only the engine that needed to be built in the required numbers for Formula Two rules, not the car. However, Ferrari was quite incapable of making, let alone selling, the required number of cars with engines of the specification required by the CSI’s Formula 2.
The new ‘Dino’ family consisted of the beautiful mid-engined Dino 206, 246 and the Fiat Dino Spider and coupé
Ferrari went cap in hand to Giovanni Agnelli of Fiat – who had filtered funds through to Maranello since the ’50s. His scheme was to provide the 2.0-litre quad-cam Type 196 racing V6, Fiat would assist in the engine’s road-car development, and both companies would use the new V6 as the basis for producing their own Dino cars. The original idea was to market both Ferrari and Fiat Dinos as a separate marque – simply badged as Dino.
Ferrari followed this through, separating the Dinos from his top-shelf status symbols. Fiat, however, wanted the reflected glory of the Ferrari association, and badged its product as the Fiat Dino. The new ‘Dino’ family consisted of the beautiful mid-engined Dino 206 and 246 (now almost universally called the Ferrari Dino), and the equally stylish Fiat Dino Spider and coupé. The 246 powerplant was also later used in the Lancia Stratos.
Fiat and Ferrari had 18 months to produce the 500 V6s required for racing in F2, and it would require considerable modification for use in a volume production road car. Ferrari’s Franco Rocchi cut the rough diamond, producing a 65-degree V6 with aluminium cylinder head and block, wet-liners, twin overhead camshafts per bank and a six-throw, four-main bearing crank machined from billet steel. Capacity was 1987cc, breathing through three twin-choke Weber carburettors, and the new engine was rated at 119kW (160bhp, DIN) at 7200rpm.

Pininfarina was contracted to style and produce convertibles for the Dino, while Fiat provided a mixture of Fiat 1500 front suspension and Fiat 2300 live rear axle on semi-elliptics to suspend it. Dual shock absorbers were specified to stop the V6 power and Borg Warner LSD giving axle tramp. The Dino V6 was mated to a Fiat five-speed manual gearbox.
In November 1966, the first production Dino Spider from Fiat’s Rivalta factory appeared at the Turin Motor Show. Early Spiders can be recognised by having ‘knock-off’ wheels rather than the five-stud fixings used for coupés and later Spiders.
The biggest changes came when the Dinos were enlarged to 2.4 litres in 1969. The Maranello (1969-1972) engines were larger, at 2418cc, the block was changed to cast-iron and the triple DCNs were replaced with triple DCNF Webers. Other changes on the 2.4 Fiat Dinos included replacing the early Fiat 2300S-derived gearbox with the stronger ZF gearbox with dogleg first gear, and replacing the live rear axle of the 2.0 cars with independent rear suspension. These changes contributed to a weight increase of 110-120kg over the 2.0 cars, a 12 per cent increase in power and a 25 per cent increase in torque, making the 2.4 a much more driveable car.
Much use was now made of Fiat 124, 125 and 130 components, including new independent rear suspension. In this form the Fiat Dinos remained in production until 1972 – the coupé outlasting the Spider by five months. These later cars were known as Fiat Dino 2400, and were assembled at Maranello by Ferrari from 1969 to 1972.

Production of the 2400 Spider began with serial number 1159, and this black one is 1194, built in 1970, one of 179 built that year.
1970 Fiat Dino Spider 2400 – (Chassis #1194)
Engines: 65° V-6 cast iron block
Capacity: 2418cc
Bore/stroke: 92.5 x 60mm
C/R: 9:1
Valves: Quad-cam
Carburettors: Triple Weber 40DCNF
Max power: 140kW (188bhp SAE) at 6600rpm
Max torque: 222Nm (164lb/ft SAE) at 4600rpm    Transmission    Five-speed manual ZF, LSD
Suspension: Independent front and rear
Steering: Worm and roller
Brakes: Ventilated discs
Wheels: Cromodora cast electron
Tyres: Michelin XAS or Pirelli CN36
Length: 4134mm
Width: 1710mm
Height: 1270mm
Wheelbase: 2280mm
Weight: 1240kg (unladen)
Max speed: 210kph94.83mph (152.6kph)
0-100kph: 9.0secs(440ci)
Production (1969-’73): 424

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