While the 1958 Dino 196 S appeared be a clone of the world-famous 250 Testa Rossa, it hid a special surprise under the bonnet. At this point, Ferrari had become well known for their spectacular V12 engines, but the Dino made do with only 6 cylinders. This paved the way for the Dino brand, which would emerge in the 1960s as Ferrari’s attempt to create a line of smaller, more affordable sports cars, aiming squarely at the popular Porsche 911. The 196 S, however, would remain a short-term design experiment.
A Racing-Derived V6
The Dino name comes from Dino Ferrari, Enzo’s son and the designer of these V6 powerplants. The numerical part of the name breaks with Ferrari tradition in that it refers to the total displacement of the engine rather than the unitary displacement of each cylinder. Longitudinal V6 engine was shared with Formula 1 and 2 cars of the day. At just 1.9 litres, the 6-cylinder engine produced a healthy 195 bhp at 7200 rpm. Top speed was rated at 155 miles per hour. Drum brakes and hydraulic shocks sat at all four corners of the car, while an independent front suspension teamed up with a live rear axle for cornering duty. Because of its racing pedigree, the Dino 196 S was entered into the World Sport Prototype Championship.
The Dino 196 S appears to share much of the 250 Testa Rossa’s styling, but it still has plenty of features to set it apart from that famous design. The Medardo Fantuzzi-penned body had its own unique air intake on the 196, along with a slightly smaller overall package. Still, there are worse cars to share a design with than one of the most prized Ferraris of all time.
After racing the Dino themselves, Ferrari sold one of the cars to American importer Luigi Chinetti, who raced the car in various venues up until 1961. While the car enjoyed few on-track successes, it remains a notable model because of its novel approach to making a Ferrari sports car.