Giosuè Boetto Cohen
The engine and agility of the Dino 206 S were loved by its drivers, admired by its adversaries. One specimen's rollercoaster history saw it return home after half a century, to be restored by the many knowing hands at Ferrari Classiche
It is June 5, 1966 at the end of the Nürburgring 1,000km race. The two Dino – Scarfiotti-Bandini’s number 11 and Rodriguez-Ginther’s number 12 - have made the podium, behind the Chaparral of Jo Bonnier and Phil Hill. Despite the latter's V8 boasting a full 200cv more than Maranello's V6, the US-made engine is able to carve out an advantage of just 41.6 seconds over the second-placed Scuderia Ferrari in what is a seven-hour race.
After the ceremony, Scuderia Ferrari sporting director Eugenio Dragoni notices the general astonishment amongst the other teams. “Does anyone want to do an engine check then?” he challenges. “Because if not, I’ll have to do it myself.” A check reveals 86x57mm or 331.10 per cylinder, total displacement 1,986.60. The figures add up.
It proved to be a pivotal moment in the racing history of the Dino 206 S. From 1966 to 1968 the Dino was recognised as a competitive car, resilient, with a dependable, powerful engine. And it was beautiful.
The 206 S featured in this story - chassis number 026 - originally emerged from Maranello in early ’67.
The story goes that a group of artisans from the Drogo bodyshop brought their own tools to shape its aluminium skin.
All 026's mechanical parts were disassembled to complete their fine tuning before it was shipped to Geneva’s Scuderia Filipinetti. In March of that same year the Klass-Muller driving partnership was forced to retire it from the Sebring 12 Hours race in the USA with a broken suspension. Back from Florida, after an engine update it appeared at Nürburgring, where Guichet-Muller suffered an in-car fire during qualifying in which both engine and cockpit were damaged.
At this point 026 retreated into the prestigious Bardinon collection where it would stay, immobile, for over a decade.
The early 1980s saw it bought by an Italian collector and return home. A restoration enabled it to take part in vintage-car competitions.
From 1997 until 2008, 026 was transferred to the USA, before then eventually finding yet another new home in Ontario, Canada.
In 2015 a 2.3 million dollar Gooding auction bid at Pebble Beach, California, saw her fall into the hands of her current owner.
In 2019 the circle was complete when she arrived back at the Ferrari Classiche workshop for a full restoration, completed this Summer.
From the very first inspection it was clear that she needed a complete nuts-and-bolts disassembly. The body had a few trouble spots, with some badly worn out surfaces prompting partial reconstruction.
But the engine and gearbox were in good shape. The engine is a V6 with two-valves per cylinder with the Lucas indirect fuel injection. Despite sharing its basic architecture (65-degree V6) the Dino racing engine is thus quite different from its brethren mounted on Ferrari and Fiat’s GT models. Beside the extra valves, those cylinder heads were modified with dual camshafts, and two spark plugs, these connected to two separate ignition coils but with a single distributor. All of which made for far higher revs (9,000rpm) and up to 40-50 per cent more power.
As in other models of its time, the 206 chassis is itself part of the oil and water-cooling system, with its tubular frame connecting the engine to the front radiators.
The interior was refurbished.
This May, 026’s engine was fired up for the first time, a delicate procedure calling for a starter to rev up the engine with the electrical circuit switched off to avoid risking damage.
The V6 had already been bench tested to measure its power curve.
At the end of this Summer, after final test drives on the Fiorano circuit, 026 was handed over to its owners.