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  Ferrari 246 F1 Dino

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1958 - 1960
Numbers built:9
Designed by:Fantuzzi
Predecessor:Ferrari 801
Successor:Ferrari 156 F1 'Sharknose'
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 09, 2006
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn his first ten years as a manufacturer, Enzo Ferrari had built cars with four, six, eight and twelve cylinder engines. This was the result of the wide range of racing classes the young company ventured into. By 1955 the latest interest was the upcoming 1.5 litre Formula 2 category intended to support the Grand Prix weekend where Ferrari already had a strong presence. A variety of configurations was considered, but eventually Enzo's son Alfredo 'Dino' Ferrari and chief engineer Vittorio Jano chose a V6; the company's first. Sadly Dino Ferrari's premature death in the summer of 1956 prevented him to see the new single seater racer completed. A grief stricken Enzo decreed that all upcoming V6-engined Ferraris would be called 'Dino' to honour his late son.

Dino Ferrari is often credited for the actual design of the original V6 engine as well, but this was for the most part the work of Vittorio Jano, who had joined Ferrari after the Lancia buy-out. In fact the overall design was not too dissimilar to the Lancia V8, which he had designed two years earlier. Like the V12 engine, a V6 in theory works best with a sixty degree V-angle, but at that angle the twin overhead camshaft heads left little room for the Carburetors. Jano ingeniously modified the crankshaft to allow for a slightly wider V of 65 degrees. Breathing through three double Webers, the small displacement engine produced a staggering 175 bhp on regular fuel; not the potent alcohol mixture the big Formula 1 cars ran on. The drivetrain was installed in a relatively straightforward chassis consisting of two large diameter lower tubes reinforced by a series of smaller tubes. Suspension was by wishbones at the front and a DeDion axle at the rear, and like Maserati, Ferrari still relied on drum brakes to provide the stopping power.

Dubbed the Ferrari 156 Dino F2, the new single seater made its debut at the Naples Grand Prix in April of 1957. Luigi Musso qualified in third position and he did not manage to improve in the race. He was beaten only by Ferrari's 2.5 litre V8-engined Formula 1 cars. Less than three months later, the 156 Dino scored its maiden victory in the hands of Maurice Trintingant. The Dino's startling performance was quite a contrast to the manufacturer's F1 cars and Enzo soon ordered his engineers to construct a F1 racer for the 1958 season based on the Dino. To bridge the gap the engine was increased in size to just under 1.9 litre and later to 2.2 and 2.4 litre for the last Grands Prix of the season. Musso and Peter Collins showcased the cars potential by finishing 2nd and 4th in a non-championship race at Modena with a displacement of only 1.9 litre.

Ferrari's hopes for 1958 were further reinforced by the announcement that alcohol fuels were banned from the start of the season. The Dino V6 was designed from the ground up to run on regular fuels, but the Vanwall and BRM engines needed to be extensively modified, which everybody expected to take quite some time. For the Formula 1 car, a displacement of 2.417 litre was chosen, which yielded a hefty 270 bhp. The chassis design followed that of the F2 car, although the size of the tubes and wheelbase varied from car to car. Dubbed the 246 F1 Dino, it formed the mainstay of the Scuderia's Formula 1 program and the specifications changed continuously with independent rear suspension and disc brakes as the most notable evolutions. Two different variations of the engine were also tried; one with a slightly larger displacement, closer to the 2.5 litre limit and one with single overhead camshaft engine to produce more torque. Specifically for the Formula Libre race at Monza, a three litre version of the Dino V6 was built, good for 316 bhp.

Ferrari had three cars ready for Musso, Collins and Mike Hawthorn for the traditional South American season opening with the Argentinean Grand Prix counting for the World Championship. Many of the British boycotted the race because they claimed they had received the regulations too late. Stirling Moss however did come down to take the Ferrari team on with a mid-engined Team Walker Cooper. Despite having only a 2 litre four cylinder engine, the plucky British 'special' outran the Ferraris, which finished second and third. Even though the new Ferraris followed up with three consecutive victories in non-Championship races, the Cooper win was a sign of things to come. In fact the only reason the cars were competitive against the British invasion was the superiority of the engine. Both the chassis and the brakes severely let the car down and on the slower tracks the continuous understeer greatly frustrated the drivers. Sadly the Dino took three lives that season including those of Musso and Collins. By winning the French Grand Prix at Reims, achieving many point scoring finishes and fastest laps, Hawthorn managed to score just enough points to beat Moss in World Championship standings. Vanwall clinched the Constructor's Championship.

Even though Ferrari had won the Driver's Championship in 1958, it came at a very high price with three fatalities and Hawthorn announcing his retirement at the end of the season as a result of it. He died a few weeks later in a traffic accident. Unfortunately it did not look much better for the 1959 season, where the Coopers were now a true force thanks to the newly developed 2.5 litre version of the four cylinder Coventry Climax engine. Some of the handling problems were solved by replacing the drum brakes with Dunlop discs and the Englebert tires with superior Dunlop rubber. Only Phil Hill was retained from the 1958 line-up and he was joined by the experienced Jean Behra and Tony Brooks and the promising young Brit Cliff Allison. The season started on a high with Behra and Brooks claiming a one-two on British soil in the non championship race at Aintree. In the championship races Jack Brabham in the Cooper proved to be the ideal package for the low and medium speed tracks. The Ferraris were only competitive at high speed tracks like Reims and Avus where the team achieved a one-two and one-two-three respectively. At the end of the season Tony Brooks was second to Brabham and Ferrari second to Cooper in the two World Championships.

For 1960, Ferrari still had no real answer to Cooper's mid-engined revolution and only got thrown further back with the introduction of mid-engined Lotus and BRM racers. In its third year of development the 246 Dino was further refined with detail changes to the exterior and exhaust headers slightly increasing the performance. Of course it was not enough to keep in touch with World Champion Jack Brabham and his mid-engined posse on twisty tracks, but at the high speed track of Monza the aging warrior excelled once more. Ahead of team mates Willy Mairesse and Richie Ginther, Phil Hill scored the team's only victory of the year; the last ever for a front-engined car. Even more important was the fifth place finish of Ferrari's latest Formula 2 Dino complete with a mid-mounted V6 engine. Ferrari had tried a mid-engined F1 car in some races, but it was underdeveloped and could not even keep up with the team's conventional cars. When the sport's governing body announced the decision to run the 1961 World Championship with a maximum displacement of 1.5 litres, Ferrari immediately discarded that project and set out to develop a new machine from the ground up for the next season. Compared to 1957, the small V6's performance was up to 185 bhp and it was obvious Ferrari was ready for 1961. The British teams were not and Alfredo Ferrari's memory was once more celebrated, this time with a World Driver's and Constructor's Championship.

With the cars obsolete and having no economic value at the end of the season, Ferrari's racing department set about disassembling the surviving cars of the circa nine raced in the previous three years. The useful parts like the engines were retained, but the rest was scrapped. Fortunately at least one car escaped this treatment as it was modified for the Tasman Series and sold to Pat Hoare from New Zeeland. For this application the Dino engine was removed and replaced with a very 'hot' 3-litre V12 engine similar to the ones fitted in the dominant 250 TRs. The chassis was used by Phil Hill for his Italian Grand Prix win, but renumbered from its original '0007' to '0788'; the number on the engine. Hoare raced his Ferrari Special with considerable success until 1963 when rule changes left it obsolete. He modified the chassis for road use and fitted a rather poorly executed 250 GTO replica body. Fortunately all the removed tubes and body panels were retained and in the late seventies it was brought back to its former glory by British historic racer Neil Corner. Powered by the very potent V12 engine, the car was successfully campaigned for many seasons by his son Nigel Corner, until a very heavy accident nearly killed him. Thankfully both survived and while Nigel retired from active duty, the Tasman Special is still frequently raced by its current owner.

In the early 1970s, British Ferrari enthusiast Sir Anthony Bamford acquired several of the surviving 246 Dino engines and decided to have several replicas built around them by David Clarke's Graypaul Motors. Bamford had also acquired '0003' and had it raced in the last years of the decade. The third surviving car is on permanent display in the Biscaretti Museum in Turin. While Bamford's original 246 Dino has not seen track action in over two decades, his 'recreations' are frequent competitors in historic racing, although they are not eligible for all events; in particular the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. This inspired the current owner of 0007/0788 to have his master mechanic George Fowles to fit his car with a correct V6 engine. This combination debuted at Monaco in 2006 and the lighter engine made the car a lot nicer to drive. Currently the car can be equipped with either engine, but the owner liked the V6 so much that left it in for the remainder of the season. It is seen above at the 2006 Goodwood Revival and Monaco Historic Grand Prix in this specification.

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  Article Image gallery (65) Specifications User Comments (1)