The Colossus of Rhodes. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Great Pyramid of Giza. These are considered to be among the wonders of the world; examples of mankind’s ingenuity and artistry that transcended and redefined genres with their brilliance and beauty. We can probably add the Fiat Dino Coupe to that list too; perhaps one of the more underrated Italian classics on the scene today, this glorious machine boasts every desirable detail offered by its contemporary Ferraris and Maseratis (indeed, it even shares its engine with the Ferrari Dino 246 GT, there’s a clue in the name), and it also has a unique hook. You see, when most people watch The Italian Job, they’re cheering on Charlie Croker’s Minis… but not us. We’re always rooting for the bad guys, because the mafiosi cruise through the mountain roads in a Fiat Dino Coupe, and it just looks so effortlessly cool.
Perhaps the coolest boast of all that this car can make is that the Dino models came into being specifically for Enzo Ferrari to homologate the V6 engine for Formula 2 racing. In order to produce enough road cars to meet the criteria, the new motor was fitted to two different Fiat body-styles, a coupe and a spider, as well as Ferrari’s own mid-engined GTs. The slinky Fiat spider was penned by Pininfarina, the crisp coupe was designed by Bertone, and from 1969-73 the engine’s displacement was enlarged to 2.4-litres. In addition to the bigger motor, the Fiat Dino 2400 Coupe also received vastly improved independent rear suspension, a new dogleg ZF gearbox with revised ratios, and larger brakes. This, then, was the archetypal grand tourer: a supremely stylish and luxuriously appointed four-seater with a homologated race engine. By any measurable standard, this rare and desirable car should be on everybody’s wish-list.
A key part of the joy of a car like this is unpicking the history, as you just know there are decades of adventure and mystery tied up in its past. With this Dino, we can see from the V5 that it was first registered in the UK in 2016, although the trail far from goes cold there. An official letter from Fiat HQ confirms that this 2400 Coupe was built at the Rivalta factory in Turin in September 1971. Furthermore, in the history file we find a kraftfahrzeugbrief – a vehicle title document from Germany, showing that the car was registered in the city of Iserlohn from March 1972, with the service stamps showing it remaining in the country until at least 1979.
Perhaps the most compelling part of the story is what’s happened to the Dino in the last few years. Owned by a UK-based collector, the car was taken to Autofficina in Surrey with the brief to fully restore the car to period-perfect specification. There’s an invoice in the file, dated May 2020, for bodywork and mechanical work totalling £25,000. What’s more, this wasn’t a restoration to prepare the car for sale, it was a restoration for the collector to keep, the vital difference being that absolutely no stone was left unturned: everything on this car is wonderfully presented and exactly as it should be. The only reason that the owner has now decided to sell is that he unexpectedly happened upon the opportunity to buy his dream Ferrari, and there isn’t space for both. So, with reluctance, this magnificent 2400 Coupe is presented to the market. A beautifully restored example, and quite possibly the best available in the UK.
All of the original handbooks and manuals are present in the file, as are a collection of published books outlining the history of the model. The V5 is present, outlining the date of entry to the UK as well as the current owner’s status as the sole UK keeper of the car. The aforementioned kraftfahrzeugbrief provides a fascinating insight into the Dino’s early history, and the official letter from Fiat’s Homologation Department is a helpful thing to have in confirming its identity.
Along with the Autofficina invoice for the restoration work, there are number of other recent invoices from 2015/16 detailing specific pieces which were sourced for the car – such as the correct Fiat emblems, rubbers and trims, a rebuild kit for the wiper motor, horn button, number plate light, pedal rubbers and much more besides. Compelling reading for the keen enthusiast!
Conceived as a luxurious grand tourer, the Dino’s interior is a glorious expression of 1970s flair, refracted with sumptuous opulence through Bertone’s own filter. The restoration work on this car has been keenly focused on preservation, with the car’s original appointments brought up to scratch in sympathetic style – the overall effect is not that of a brand new car, but of a car which has been carefully maintained and looked after. The seats are wonderfully supportive and show no signs of undue wear, no separating stitching, no sagging, they’re as just-right as Goldilocks’ porridge. Similar colour too, and the matching carpets, headlining, doorcards and trim are in equally splendid condition. The design of the dash is a marvel to behold, and every one of those oh-so-retro gauges is working just as it should behind the fabulous steering wheel. All of the switchgear and electrics are in good working order, and there’s no signs of sun damage or patination to the wood trim or dash-top. The correct Bertone dash badge is in place, and there’s an old-school Philips radio-cassette tucked behind the gearstick.
Inside the boot everything is solid and complete, with the correct space-saver spare and period Michelin tyre beneath the boot floor.
Well, just look at it – it’s a masterpiece, isn’t it? An unutterably splendid example of Bertone’s holistic approach to style and functionality, it’s one of the all-time classic silhouettes. The restoration work has been incredibly thorough, and the end result is little short of spectacular. As the car effortlessly wafts to our photoshoot location, every head turns, every face cracks a smile, every teenager frantically struggles to get their cameraphone out in time… it truly is art in motion. Heck, it’s art standing still.
The new paintwork – finished in Ferrari Azzurro Blue – is beautifully applied and really sparkles in the sun. The quality finish also serves to highlight just how well the body has been cared for: we couldn’t find a single crease, car park ding, scrape or fault in the metalwork, and all of the panels are perfectly aligned. As you’d expect, there are no signs of corrosion as the whole body has very recently been down to the metal to have everything finessed. The window glass is excellent, with new rubber seals, and all the correct chrome trim is in place. The light lenses are intact, the bumpers free from scuffs or wear, and no trim pieces absent. The wheels are in excellent condition and are shod with appropriate and new Michelin XDX tyres. Naturally we can’t sell you a time machine so that you can buzz back to 1971 and see what this car was like new, but looking at it today is probably the next best thing.
The running gear and chassis of this car are, as you’d no doubt expect, outstanding. Everything’s been gone through in the course of the restoration to ensure that it’s all original-spec and working as it should. The engine has received careful attention by a team of specialists, making sure that everything is right inside and out with only correct parts used; the engine runs very sweetly indeed, firing up without issue and idling correctly. It pulls with verve and vigour through the revs, and it’s not the highly-strung unit its race-bred credentials might suggest – no, it’s a smooth and refined cruiser, hiding its lunacy in the upper rev range and behaving with Jeeves-like manners around town. The gearbox is a precise and tight unit, and there are no unwanted noises from the diff, prop, or any bearings – it all just sounds right. The steering, suspension and brakes are equally free from histrionics – as with the rest of the car, it’s all very recently been sorted out.
We’re almost reticent to be too enthusiastic about this car, simply because we really want to keep it for ourselves. But given that we can’t find a suitably generous job number for such a purchase, let us be frank: this car is outstanding. The Dino Coupe as a model is a rare groove in itself, but finding one like this feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the restoration work has been a no-holds-barred effort to make the car the best it can possibly be, and having covered very few miles since the resto was completed, this Fiat represents a unique proposition – an original-spec example in which everything has been sorted. It looks magnificent, it’s wonderful to drive, and it will ensure animated conversation and widespread adoration wherever you go. Forget your early-seventies Ferraris and what-have-you – the Dino 2400 Coupe truly is the connoisseur’s choice.
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