FCA’s Sergio Marchionne appears to be saying no to a new-generation Ferrari ‘Dino’. Well he was last week anyway…
Much like the current resident of the American White House, FCA’s Chief Knitwear Officer appears to think nothing of holding entirely bipolar positions on policy, seemingly at will. Over the years, the Turin binman has led us a merry polka and yet here we are, akin to the beleaguered Washington press corps, Pavlovian to our slavering chops. Because one thing of which we can be certain is that whatever either the leader of the free World or the Italian-Canadian yarnmiester pronounces upon will be slavishly reported upon, disseminated and pored over, which is of course the point of the exercise.
Experience really ought to have taught us the pointlessness in taking any of Sergio’s pronouncements seriously. For more a decade at least, we’ve been hearing that the new ‘Dino’ is imminent, but has thus far steadfastly eluded corporeal form. In 2015, for example, following the palace coup which ousted Maranello incumbent, Luca de Montezemolo, Marchionne told journalists that it “wasn’t a matter of if, but when” a new Dino-badged Ferrari would appear – news that was greeted by the enthusiast press with predictable hyperbole.
Some two years later and without the merest whiff of a concrete model programme in hand, the FCA boss and angora enthusiast, while regaling investors and analysts on the Prancing Horse’s forthcoming plans, surprised his audience by appearing to pour cold water on the idea of a cheaper ‘Dino’ model, while leaving broad hints that it’s more likely they’ll go-ahead with the high-riding Ferrari-badged off-road vehicle he previously swore Maranello would never build.
There’s probably as much sense in getting into the whys and wherefores as there is in trying to second-guess the current Ferrari chief, but it’s been obvious to anyone who follows the industry that once the likes of Aston Martin and Lamborghini took the leap into SUVs, Maranello too would move to grab a piece of that high-riding action. Add in a stated Marchionne ambition of growing Ferrari volumes above the recent 10,000 cars a year ceiling, and a 4×4 of some description was always going to be a racing certainty.
Meanwhile as news of the putative Dino’s (putative) demise is bewailed by enthusiasts of a more traditional bent, a few observations. It’s worth remembering that even if it lacks the badging, the current mid-engined 488 model can trace its lineage back to the 1967 Dino, even if it’s now something of a bloated facsimile. Another point to bear in mind is the naivety in imagining Marchionne would sanction a Ferrari-branded model at a lower than existing price point.
Why? Quite simply because Maranello’s primary purpose is that of parting customers from very large sums of money. Couple to that the difficulty in creating a watertight business case for a cheaper car line which would cost at least as much to develop as more expensive models (to say nothing of the potential profitability of a V12-engined 4×4) and it’s obvious that only one of these programmes is going to fly.
Now of course the one thing you can say with relative certainty is that whatever the Marchionne game plan for the Cavallino Rampante might be, (should one indeed exist) it will be as much subject to Serge’s capricious whim as the ongoing state of Ferrari’s balance sheet.
Nevertheless, I make two confident predictions. First, that the putative ‘Dino’ will continue to plot its binary and entirely fictitious path through the fevered imaginations of the automotive press and second, that while the next generation of mid-engined Ferraris may well be powered by downsized V6s, the chances of a new Ferrari Dino in any recognisable form is virtually nil.
Having said that, it’s equally possible Sergio will make liars of us all, by naming their forthcoming 4×4 after Enzo’s ill-fated son and heir. After all, the original Dino was such a break from Maranello tradition, it carried no Ferrari badging at all. Unlikely? Perhaps, but with Marchionne at the helm, anything’s possible.