Dino Days: The story of one man’s obsession with buying back his old Ferrari
Despite a lifelong passion for owning, driving and selling classic cars, one man's obsession with a Dino saw him hunt down his long-lost love
Leon Poultney is a writer, driver, rider and lover of all things automotive, who writes for the likes of Wired, T3, Stuff, The Sun and DriveTribe.
The great thing about the car community is, despite its global reach, it feels positively minuscule at times. A chance meeting in a cafe resulted in a friend-of-a-friend putting us in touch with local classic car obsessive Phill Brigstock, who had a story to tell.
It turned out that Phill was just putting the finishing touches on his book 'Dino Days' and wanted us to help bring it to life with a little promotional video. We soon found out that the book goes into great detail about Dino the man and Dino the car, but also offers an insight into one particular Rosso Red 246GT, affectionately known as 646 DRY.
Phill's Dino has seen no less than 18 'careful owners' in its time. Shot by Leon Poultney
"I initially bought the Dino in 1992 and the first thing I did was enter it into a concours event with the Ferrari owner's club and it won first in its class. I knew I had something special.
"But like so many of my friends, when my children came along five years later, I had to free up some cash and the Dino had to go. It felt like an immediate mistake and I always regretted it.
"Out of all of the cars I've had, it was the only one that bugged me after it was gone," he explains.
This is a car that's meant to be driven and it hits the road at every opportunity. Shot by Leon Poultney
Amazingly, a chance peruse of a classic car auction some ten years later revealed that Phill's Dino was back on the market and he immediately had to get it back. "It cost me six times what I sold it for in 1997 but that is how classic car prices have gone and I am that stupid," he adds.
From the original deal, which involved a pawnbroker and an architect, to a once-in-a-lifetime road trip to the Dino's spiritual home in Maranello, this 246GT (with the brilliantly apt chassis number of 07246), like so many classic cars, comes with a lifetime of stories.
Winding empty Tarmac. Dino heaven. Shot by Leon Poultney
But even to this day, the Dino feels extremely special and the sound of the 2.4-litre V6, the mastermind of Enzo's first son, is enough to have your hairs standing on end as it climbs through the revs.
We wouldn't be able to enjoy that sonorous note if it wasn't for Alfredino's new, small capacity engine for the Formula 2 class of 1957. Along with some of the biggest engineering names at Ferrari (including Alfa Romeo racing legend Vittorio Jano), this small side project ensemble decided that a a six-cylinder engine, arranged in a V formation, would be the best bet.
Surprisingly comfortable seats for 1973. Shot by Leon Poultney
With help from Fiat, this would also become the engine that powered Ferrari's upcoming line of smaller, more affordable sports cars, which it hoped would help the Italian marque do battle with the likes of Porsche on the forecourts. Back in the day, you could rent a Dino from Avis.
But some believe that Enzo gave the six-cylinder road cars a Dino designation in order to delineate the “baby” V6 cars from the purebred 12-cylinder cars, and thereby separate these smaller vehicles from Ferrari's famous line of 'proper;' V12s, but Phill disagrees.
The Rosso Red paint still beams to this day. Shot by Leon Poultney
"I’m convinced that Enzo would not have applied the Dino name to anything that he considered inferior and I believe Enzo was hugely proud of his lost son and the cars and engines that carry his name.
"It is this all-powerful love that elevates the early Dino models, the 206 and 246GT especially, from being yet another red sports car," he adds.
With 18 careful owners over a 45-year period, Phill's model has clearly had lots of time and money lavished upon it, but this isn't just a vehicle that sits in a garage and gather dust.
The VW Amarok makes the tiny Dino look like a toy car by comparison. Shot by Leon Poultney
In order to add colour to his book, Phill embarked on an epic road trip down to Maranello in 646 DRY, meeting other Dino owners along the way and finding out the individual stories attached to each model.
An awesome undertaking for a classic like this, but slip into the low-slung passenger seat of a Dino and it is remarkable how well the car rides and handles on UK roads.
Naturally, a lack of air conditioning and other mod cons make long distances interesting, but the unmistakable howl of the V6 should be enough of a soundtrack to keep anyone sane as the miles clock up.
Curves for days. Every surface of the Dino is a piece of artwork. Shot by Leon Poultney
Our time with Phill and the Dino was short. A single day is not enough to digest all of the stories that come with classic car ownership. But that's the beauty of old motors, they actively encourage tales be told and very few are as mysterious and beautiful as the Dino.
For those of you keen to find out more about life with a Dino, or life with classic cars in general, we urge you to go and check out Dino Days, which is available at The Great British Bookshop.