If you were there the day the Dino 246 L Series was revealed to the world, this car might seem familiar.
The Ferrari Dino 246 is a car not quite recognized by the brand, despite the decision to introduce the Ferrari 296 GTB as a spiritual successor. Regardless, the six-cylinder classic is still a sought-after product by many enthusiasts of the brand. That's why this recently restored GT L Series model by Bell Sport and Classic makes for quite the feel-good story.
The 246 GT bearing chassis number 00436 arrived at the facilities of Bell Sport and Classic back in 2017. The firm confirmed that it was the seventh example of 357 GT L Series units ever produced and had been owned by enthusiasts from Germany, France, Canada, and the US. In its 48 year lifespan, it had only covered 53,000 miles of driving but the condition was not the greatest.
Deep-set rust was found within the inner wings while the front and rear valances were deformed. Scoops located on the door panels were skewed in both height and angle while the wheel arch heights were imbalanced. The rear roofline was also drastically skewed. Project leader Peter Ensor says that upon reviewing the example, the team questioned whether this project would be feasible for the company. They took the job on regardless.
Bell Sport and Classic staffer Elliot East explains that these errors were only visible things. Upon taking the car apart, it was discovered that front wings, sills, and rocker panels had been welded over the original bodywork, resulting in more rust to be uncovered once these pieces were removed.
After an initial valuation was conducted, the team took several months to strip the car down to its steel monocoque. This included the careful removal of the aluminum panels, doors, glasswork, and mechanical parts. Bell Sport and Classic realized that this restoration was going to require a heavy amount of time, finances, and resources once it had torn the car down to its frame.
Looking at the brighter side, the firm took this as an opportunity to showcase its expertise in body, interior, and mechanical restorations. The group is so confident in its abilities that it claims the cars leave its workshop in a better state than when it left the manufacturer's factory at the time. In doing so, Ferrari has granted Bell Sport and Classic its Classiche certification which made them a perfect match for the Dino.
After conducting thorough research on the original model's specification, the team got started on the 2.4-liter V6 which was mated to three Weber 40 DCF carburetors. This powertrain was completely stripped together with the five-speed manual gearbox, disc brake system, front and rear coil springs, and double-wishbone suspension.
Bell Sport and Classic restored whichever component was salvageable while the parts that were too corroded were reconstructed to factory specification. With the engine put back together again, the team subjected it to a dynamometer and bench-run for a full day. It was then re-tested before being placed on a rolling road and carefully calibrated to deliver the 191 horsepower output that Ferrari claimed it left the factory with.
With the mechanical components complete, Bell Sport and Classic got started on the bodywork. It clarifies that no shortcuts were taken whatsoever. Ensor explains that even on a section found along the sill underneath the doors, the panel seal was properly restored rather than just being painted over. "That might only be a minor thing to some people, but little things like that are everything to us.", he says.
A large amount of focus was placed on the air intake scoops that are positioned on the doors and flow to the rear. Ensor explains, "Back in the 1960s, the people building these cars at Maranello did not have the technology at their disposal that we do today and so fit and finish were often not what they could have been,". To correct this, hundreds of hours were invested into ensuring that the panels were aligned correctly.
To create a symmetrical design, the team needed to reform the wheel arches and create new sills. The body panels were aligned to an appropriate satisfaction but the doors had to be refabricated so that they could accommodate the new scoops applied to the rear section of the body. To do this, the original scoops were aluminum-welded to a new skin.
The focus of restoring this Dino was to use as many of the original parts as possible. Simply slapping on a new catalog of classic parts does not meet its restoration criteria, even though that is the faster and more economical route to go. The reason for this is to preserve the car's originality as much as possible. Because every part of the car was re-engineered, Ensor explains that the reassembly is often a tiresome task as the fitment needs to be constantly adjusted.
With regards to the rebuild, Ensor explains, "It took two weeks before we were completely satisfied that the doors opened and closed correctly and that the scoops on the doors aligned absolutely perfectly with those on the rear body panels. We spent a similar amount of time fitting the curved rear screen. That's a very tricky job because the screen is actually bigger than the space it is going into. The only way to fit it is to put one side in first and then flex the screen ever so slightly to get the other end in,"
After this, weeks were invested into the repairing and polishing of the front grille and appropriately placing the turn signals into the body. Bell Sport and Classic admits that it even spent a full two days polishing this aluminum shell used for the interior mirror.
Once completed, the Dino was colored in its original Rosso Dino paint which was applied over a factory-standard grey primer. This was followed by a Rosso Corsa undercoat with Rosso Dino final coat. As for upholstery, the classic sports car has had period-correct black leather applied to the seats with contrasting orange toweling inserts. The original dashboard could not be salvaged so a new one was constructed for the restoration.
Tim Kearns, Managing Director of Bell Sport and Classic, says, "Like every project we undertake, bringing the Dino 246 GT back to be life has been a true labor of love and most definitely not a clock-watching exercise. No amount of time, expense, or attention to detail has been spared in ensuring the car is now in even better condition than when it left the factory.
The Dino 246 L Series is such a special car because of how small its production run was. It followed the original 206 GT but sported a larger engine and increased wheelbase as found on the GTS Targa model. After the 357 units were produced, Ferrari introduced an M and E-series model which benefited from a more generous production run.
This particular model was produced in 1969 and took to the stage at the Frankfurt Motor Show before it was shipped to its owner in West Germany. This would have been the first-ever Dino to enter the region. This isn't the first Dino to be restored but we can't deny that it's probably the most pristine. Previous examples of reworked Dino models include a crazy restomod sporting the F40's twin-turbo engine.