Ferrari Dino 208 GT4, the importance of the name

The Gran Turismo of the revolution: new architecture, unprecedented engine, change of stylistic signature, these are the main innovations introduced by this car that immediately sparked discussions among fans with conflicting opinions.

The experience of the Dino, the small one from Ferrari with a six-cylinder engine, leaves a legacy of moderate sales success and a pleasant car to drive, appreciated for its agility.

An adventure of this kind deserves a second chapter in the glorious history of the Prancing Horse and therefore Ferrari, for its renewed Dino, and completely disrupts the cards at stake while maintaining the innovative and experimental spirit for the small sports car.

Year 1973, the berlinetta is called Dino 308 GT4, easily translated as three thousand cubic centimeters of displacement, eight relating to the number of cylinders, Gran Turismo 4, where the final figure indicates the number of passengers.

Also in this case there are some market needs that push the Ferrari man to abandon some of his strong points of the automotive creed, to take new paths.

The oil crisis of the early 1970s marks a deep recession in the sports car sector but also offers new opportunities: in fact, in this historical period a niche of mid-engined Gran Turismo was born, able to combine comfort and performance.

The protagonists of this new stylistic current are two Emilian supercars: the Maserati Merak and the Lamborghini Urraco, both born in 1972. The Sant’Agata Bolognese car is the real rival of the Dino 308 GT4, and an interesting parallel is created with the berlinetta.

To begin with, the designer's hand is the same, Marcello Gandini, the brilliant designer of Bertone. This is the first novelty: the design of the car is entrusted to the Turin bodywork and not to Pininfarina, as has been the case for about twenty years now.

The reason for this choice by Ferrari will never be fully clarified: however, in this historical phase Bertone is the hottest coachbuilder, capable of discovering young talents such as Gandini and Giugiaro (not surprisingly the Maserati Merak designer). Furthermore, a not insignificant detail, Fiat, which recently acquired Ferrari, is on good terms with the Turin coachbuilder, thus favoring this new collaboration.

The task for Gandini is not the simplest: the latter must create a mid-engined Gran Turismo, capable of accommodating four people, on a 2.550 millimeters chassis.

The arduous challenge can still be defined as a success: wedge-shaped and aggressive line, embellished with expert design touches such as the boomerang-shaped air intakes on the rear pillars, give the exterior an aggressive, taut but balanced appearance.

The front grille is rectangular and narrow, and the headlights are retractable, with double parabola. The side with development is wedge-shaped, while at the rear the circular headlights, three on each side, are surrounded by a quadrangular reflector mask.

Small differences distinguish the US version.

The interiors can be defined sober and minimalist: all the information is concentrated in a panel placed in front of the driver, with two large circular instruments of greater size and five smaller diameter dials for additional information. Two at the ends of the panel and three positioned in the center, between the speedometer and tachometer. Almost Spartan but full of charm steering wheel, with three-spoke steering wheel in brushed aluminum and leather-covered crown.

Four seats, with the central sofa distinguished by two shells to accommodate the rear passengers. The latter are more makeshift places, not suitable for long journeys.

A very different character than traditional Ferraris, which have become a legend of motoring thanks to the perfect mix of proportion, softness and tone of its shapes. It is therefore not surprising that the more traditional customers of the Cavallino have not welcomed this new stylistic current. At the same time, many appreciate the modern and timeless cut of this little Ferrari.

Furthermore, the design of the Dino 308 GT4 is a direct child of the Urraco, and precisely a proposal of the tail, rejected by Lamborghini, is successfully proposed to Ferrari for the new Dino: legend has it that Enzo Ferrari understands the situation too late, and from at this moment the working relationships with Bertone cease forever. Therefore, the Modenese manufacturer returns to rely exclusively on Pininfarina, without abandoning the historic association.

The frame, type F 106 AL 100, is characterized by the even numbering, typical of racing Ferraris and the previous generation Dino, and combined with a chassis totally in line with the tradition of the Prancing Horse make it a manifesto of the Ferrari DNA.

Tubular steel frame, four independent wheels withwishbones, coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bars at both the front and rear, in addition to the four disc brakes, make up the new model.

Another important novelty is the eight-cylinder engine, used for the first time by the Maranello company in a production car. The heart is a three-liter displacement, to be precise a 2.926 cubic centimeters, capable of delivering 255 horsepower in the first European versions, while the configuration envisaged for the United States reaches 205 horsepower due to the first anti-pollution regulations.

Internal reference code F 106 AL 000, has a V configuration with a 90° opening, with double overhead camshafts per bank. Bore and stroke are identical in size to which of the contemporary twelve cylinders made in Maranello, respectively, they are 81 and 71 millimeters long.

Mounted transversely, the engine is powered by four twin-barrel carburettors located in the center of the V, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. It should be noted that the exact configurations vary according to the sales area due to anti-pollution regulations, so it is possible to find differences. These are precisely the reasons, together with tax penalties, that push Ferrari to create an exclusive version for Italy, the Dino 208 GT4.

In essence, this is a weakened two-liter configuration, with 180 horsepower. The displacement reduction is obtained with a simple modification: the bore now measures 66.8 millimeters compared to the original 81, but the adjustment work is much finer: new cylinder head, different pistons, specific manifolds and valves, compression ratio increased. The engine becomes the most powerful two-liter on the market, worthy of being Ferrari and able to push the car up to 215 km/h.

Excellent engine, good habitability, agility and driving pleasure, pleasant roar, are all characteristics of a true Ferrari. However, the choice of the Dino brand turns out to be unfortunate: despite the good sales numbers, the car seems held back by the absence of the Prancing Horse on the hood: for American enthusiasts the Dino brand is unknown, while in Europe and in Italy it is perceived like a second-rate Ferrari, limiting the success of the car itself.

In 1976 it was decided to intervene to change the situation: US dealers were given the opportunity to replace the Dino brand with Ferrari ones, because they were unable to sell the twelve cylinders that are no longer validable in the United States.

The commercial move also creates interest in Europe, with enthusiasts looking for badges to replace on their cars, convincing Ferrari to officially change the name. The Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 was born, so to speak, and so it will be until the end of the car's life cycle in 1980.

In seven years 2.826 examples of 308 GT4 are built while the Italian 208 GT4 are 840. About half of the production is made in the first two years of marketing, under the Dino brand, while they are


Coupé, 2+2 seats

Rear engine, transverse

Rear-wheel Drive

Size and Weights

Length 4300 mm

Width 1800 mm

Height 1180 mm

Front track 1460 mm

Rear track 1460 mm

Wheelbase 2550 mm

Unladen mass 1150 Kg

80 liters tank


Displacement 2926.90 cm³

Type 106, 90° V8

Bore and stroke 81 by 71 mm

Compression ratio 8.8: 1

Unit displacement 365.86 cm³

Double shaft distribution, two valves for cylinder

Powering four Weber 40 DCNF carburettors


Power 188 kW/255 hp at 7.700 rpm

Specific Power 87 hp/liter (64 Kw/liter) and 97 Nm/liter

Torque 284 Nm at 5.000 rpm

Mono ignition, two distributors

Wet sump lubrication

Single plate clutch

Five-speed gearbox + RM


Tubular steel

Front independent suspension, wishbones, coaxial coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar

Independent rear suspension, wishbones, coaxial coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers, stabilizer bar

Steering pinion and rack

Self-ventilated front disc brakes

Self-ventilated rear disc brakes

205/70 front tires

Rear tires 205/70

Rims 14 "

Performance declared

Speed ​​250 Km/h

Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.0 seconds, and from 0 to 400 meters in 14.4 seconds

Luca Saitta

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