Fiat Dino 2000 Spider

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When the commercially unsuccessful 8V was discontinued in 1954 Fiat focussed their attention exclusively on mass production models. An informal arrangement with Abarth was satisfactory for the Fiat board; those customers who wanted high performance Fiats could order speed equipment and even complete cars from Abarth.

In 1965 the FIA announced that new Formula 2 regulations would come into effect from 1967. The principle rule change concerned engines: there would be a 1600cc, six cylinder limit and minimum production requirement of 500 units. The engine blocks had to be used in 500 road-going production cars all built within 12 consecutive months.

After several years out of Formula 2 Enzo Ferrari wanted to promote his Dino brand in this junior series. At the time Formula 2 was far more popular than any modern era feeder category. It routinely attracted Formula 1 drivers and manufacturers and the new 1967 regulations were expected to see an explosion of interest.

Ferrari already had a 1.6-litre 65° V6 in development for the 1965 Dino 166 P. The engine was subsequently enlarged to 2-litres and achieved considerable success in sports car racing and hillclimbs. Enzo Ferrari considered his Dino V6 engine the perfect basis for a 1600cc F2 powerplant. However, Ferrari did not have the production capacity to make the 500 V6-powered road cars in a 12-month period. He turned to Fiat and in March 1965 the two companies signed an agreement that would see Fiat produce the V6 engine in sufficient numbers to allow its adoption in a new Dino-badged Ferrari Formula 2 car.

One of the prototype Dino engines was sent to Fiat whose engineers stripped it down and reconfigured it to suit mass production methods. Fiat and Ferrari then set about designing new cars to take the engine. Fiat produced two models: the Dino Spider (with bodywork by Pininfarina) and the Dino Coupe (with bodywork by Bertone). Ferrari created the Dino GT (another Pininfarina design). All three models were initially built with the V6 Dino block enlarged to two-litres.

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Production of the Fiat Dino Spider’s engine, chassis and mechanical components began in early October 1966 at the firm’s new Rivalta factory south of Turin. The bodyshells were constructed, painted and trimmed at Pininfarina’s Grugliasco plant 10km away. They were subsequently delivered to Rivalta for final assembly.

The Fiat Dino Spider was unveiled in early November at the Turin Salon. At the same show Ferrari displayed a prototype Dino GT while the Bertone-bodied Fiat Dino Coupe wouldn’t break cover until the Geneva Salon in March 1967.

A front-engined rear-wheel drive roadster, the Fiat Dino Spider featured an all-steel unibody construction with a wheelbase of 2280mm (270mm shorter than the Bertone Coupe). Independent front suspension was via double wishbones with coil sprung hydraulic shocks and an anti-roll bar. At the back was a rigid rear axle lifted from the Fiat 2300 S with semi-elliptic springs and twin hydraulic shocks each side.

Ventilated Girling disc brakes were fitted all round and ran off a dual circuit system with vacuum servo assistance. Cromodora cast magnesium wheels measured 14 x 6.5-inches and were retained by a triple-eared hub nut. The wheels were originally shod with either Michelin XAS or Pirelli CN36 tyres.

A 66-litre fuel tank was installed under the boot floor.

The Dino line of engines was named after Enzo Ferrari’s son, Alfredino, who had died in 1956. The original design was credited to Vittorio Jano and its conversion for mass production was handled by Aurelio Lampredi. The same engine used in the Fiat Dinos was fitted to the Ferrari Dino and all these motors were manufactured on the same production line.

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A 65° V6 with dual overhead camshafts for each bank of cylinders, the Tipo 135 B 000 unit installed in the Fiat Dino Spider had an alloy block and head with cast iron wet cylinder liners, cast iron valve seats and hemispherical combustion chambers. It displaced 1987cc thanks to a bore and stroke of 86mm and 57mm respectively. Compression was set at 9.0:1 and three twin choke Weber 40 DCN carburettors were fitted. In this configuration the engine produced 160bhp at 7200rpm and 126lb ft of torque at 6000rpm.

Transmission was via an all-synchromesh five-speed manual gearbox, single plate clutch and limited-slip differential.

Visually the Fiat Dino Spider’s most distinctive feature was its dual headlights mounted in each corner of the nose aperture. Pininfarina had previewed a similar styling trick 12 months earlier when the Ferrari Dino Berlinetta Speciale was displayed at the Paris Salon in October 1965.

Bulbous wings were particularly pronounced at the front and a Kamm tail was adopted at the back. Slim full width bumpers were chrome-plated to match the sill strip, window frames, door handles, badges and hub nuts. The egg-crate front grille was brushed alloy.

A manually-operated canvas roof was simple to erect and when lowered lay flush with the rear deck. Body panels were fabricated from steel with the exception of the boot lid which was aluminium.

Despite being well laid out the interior came in for criticism. Low quality materials and switchgear sourced from cheaper Fiat models were something of a disappointment.

The dash was upholstered in black vinyl along with the door panels, seat bolsters and tonneau. Seat centres were black basket-weave material. A black plastic steering had three alloy spokes and all the instruments were located in a binnacle directly behind. The primary dials (tachometer and speedometer) were flanked by secondary gauges for oil temperature, oil pressure, fuel level and water temperature. The windows were manually operated and there were two small seats in the back.

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At 1240kg the Fiat Dino Spider was 140kg lighter than the Bertone-bodied Coupe. It had a top speed of 130mph and could sprint from 0-62mph in 8 seconds.

Optional extras included a radio, metallic paint, leather upholstery and a vinyl covered hardtop with stainless steel roll bar.

In February 1967 the plastic steering wheel was changed for a wood-rimmed item. At the same time matching wood veneer inserts were applied to the dash, instrument binnacle and centre console.

In 1968 Magnetti Marelli Dinoplex C electronic ignition came fitted as standard (the first time such a system had been used on a production car). It was commissioned by Fiat specifically for the Dino engine to overcome plug fouling in slow moving traffic.

Production ended in December 1968 after 1163 Fiat Dino 2000 Spiders had been built all of which were left-hand drive. It would re-start in September 1969 when an uprated 2.4-litre version was released.

During production four special-bodied Fiat Dinos were built by Pininfarina. Two featured the basic Spider-type design but in Coupe format. The first (red) example was built in late 1966 with a short ‘Hardtop’ style roof. The second (blue) example arrived in 1967 and had a fastback roofline not dissimilar to the Bertone-bodied production model.

At the Paris Salon in October 1967 Pininfarina presented the Fiat Dino Parigi. This white car had a completely new Shooting-break body with retractable headlights and elaborate glass panels. It was built on a chassis with an extended 2290mm wheelbase (10mm longer than the standard Spider).

Five months later the Fiat Dino Ginevra was unveiled at the Geneva Salon (March 1968). This new red car was almost certainly built on the long wheelbase Parigi platform. It featured a revised front end (once again with retractable headlights) but a more conventional fastback tail.

Text copyright: Supercar Nostalgia
Photo copyright: Fiat -
https://www.fiat.com

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